Tourism in Afghanistan was at its glorious best in the 1970s. Over 90,000 tourists visited Afghanistan from all over the world to see the unique beauty of the country and experience the treat of one of the most hospitable people. Today, despite decades of war, Kabul remains a fascinating city that embraces both the old and the new. With the presence of the international community and the ongoing redevelopment projects, Kabul has been given a touch of modern architecture that gives the city hope of a peaceful and prosperous future.
Afghanistan has a history of more than six thousand years, with many historical sights and attractions, among these are the more than two thousand years old famous Buddha Statues, the tomb of Hazrat-e Ali (the son in law of Prophet Mohammed PBUH and the fourth caliph of Islam) in Mazar-e Sharif, the beautiful city of Balkh (also known as the mother of all cities) and the lakes of Band-e Amir in Bamyan province.
Afghanistan has also been of great strategic importance for invading armies, from Genghis Khan to Alexander the Great. All these armies have left astonishing trails behind, trails that have been forgotten due to decades of war but are yet to be discovered. The Government is working to rebuild the war torn infrastructure of Afghanistan, a major project to develop transport links and a nationwide telecommunication link between Kabul and the other provinces has been established.
Furthermore, to assist the Tourism Industry of Afghanistan, the Government strongly encourages and offers its full support to the private sector to invest into the Tourism Industry. With ever increasing global tourism, the Afghan Tourist Industry has tremendous potential to become profitable. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan is willing to support any attempt that will further develop the tourism industry of Afghanistan.
Afghan Tour Organization was founded along Afghan media in 1958 in Kabul city. This organization got the membership of the World Tourism Organization which was made out of 102 member countries.
Afghan Tourism Organization along side Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Maldev, and Nepal served as an active member of south Asia Tourism commission.
This country could provide the essential facilities to improve and develop tourism in Afghanistan. These attempts caused a rise in the revenue of Afghanistan, and introduced the history culture, civilization, historical relics and monuments of Afghanistan to the rest of the world.
Afghan Tourist Organization, next to Afghan gallery on Aasmae Watt, is a policy making organization, and is controlled by the ministry of Information and culture. Afghan Tour Organization has totally 73 personnel.
Afghan Tour Organization Core Functions:
To Coordinate Afghan Tour ActivitiesIntegrate and offer proper services to TouristsMaintain communication with World Tourism OrganizationCarry out marketing campaign to get Tourist to the countyPublish and disseminate Afghan Tourist Publication such as Brochures, and other publicationsTo register Tourist accommodation areas and Private Tourist Agencies
Kabul, capital of Afghanistan since 1776, is a fast growing city where tall modern buildings nuzzle against bustling bazaars, wide avenues are field with colorful flowing turbans, gaily striped chapans and a multitude of handsome faces.
The city is ringed with mountains gleaming emerald green in spring and glistening white in winter. In summer, they have an ever changing beauty turning from deep purple to brilliant pink under the rising and setting sun. Two craggy ranges crowned with ancient bastions divide the city and the Kabul River flower through a narrow pass between them meander through the heart of the city. Travelers have written glowingly of Kabul for centuries and modern visitors continue to be captivated by it’s charm.
MAJOR PLACES OF INTREST:BALA HISAR:
Rising above the plain, the citadel served for centuries as the seat of Afghanistan. It witnessed most of the exciting events of the country’s history until 1880 when it was destroyed during the second anglo – Afghan War.
Amir Aburrahman (1880 – 1901) built this citadel to replace the Bala Hissar places. OLD CITY: The ancient wall of Kabul being at Bala Hissar. They are 7 meters high, 3 meters thick and assistance to the Hephthalite period(5th Century).
The tomb of Timor Shah, son of Ahmad Shah Durrani, who moved the capital form Kandahar to Kabul, was built in 1817.A charming landmark of the city is the mausoleum of Amir Abdur Rahman, one of Afghanistan’s most dynamic rulers. It stands in Zarnegar Park, in the center of the city as a fine example of 19th Century architecture remaining in Kabul.
A graceful, many domed palace glimmers on a hill to the north of the city. Built as a summer residence, it now houses a distinguished restaurant specializing in traditional Afghan Food.
Laid out by Babur, the founder of the Mogul Dynasty, in the middle of the 16th Century, the gardens include a summer pavilion added by Amir Abdur Rahman, a commemorative mosque built by Emperor Shah Jahan and the tomb of Babur himself. Babur died in Agra in 1530 but he so loved these gardens that he asked to be buried here, a wish was fulfilled by his Afghan wife “Bibi Mobaraka”.NATIONAL MUSEUM:
Located in Darulaman, contains an impressive collection of artifacts illustrating Afghanistan’s past from prehistory to modern times.
Kabul’s many colorful bazaars attracting a large number of visitors for shopping and sightseeing.
Kabul has many interesting mosques. The most famous ones in the center of the city are:Masjide Pule KheshtiMasjide Shahe du shamshiraMasjide Sherpur (Blue Mosque)Masjide Eid GahMasjide Sayed Majnun Shah
Istalif lies north of Kabul in the Koh Daman – a valley ringed by barren hills dotted with villages nestled within green orchards. It is one the largest, most ancient and loveliest of them all. Istalif is famous for its green and blue pottery and its picturesque bazar. A visit to this place combines beautiful scenery with an introduction to Afghan village life.
KABUL GORGE: Afghanistan is a country of impressive gorges and Kabul Gorge (Tange Gharu) is its most spectacular. A large piquet house stands at the top of the gorge from where one can savor the fantastic scenery at leisure. 3 km of switch back road leads down to the foot giving a full experience of its ruggedness.
GULDARA STUPA: An interesting historic site of the 4th Century standing on a platform having a square base with Corinthian columns; statues once occupied the niches. The walls present a fine example of Kushan workmanship known as diaper masonry. The stupa was originally plastered and painted ochre-yellow with red designs.PAGHMAN: Paghman is the most favored summer resort of Kabul. The imposing victory arch, standing in the central square, was built by King Amanullah in commemoration of the War of independence in 1919. The road passes by the Baghe Umumi (Public Garden) where tea and snacks are served. Returning to Kabul, one may pass by Kargha Lake with Spozhmay (Moonlight) restaurant and the Kabul Golf Course.
an important market town, particularly famous for embroidered sheepskin coats, was the dazzling capital of Ghaznavid Empire from 994 – 1160 encompassing muchof northern India, Persia and Central Asia. Many campaigns into India were launched from here resulting in the spread of Islam to the East. This glorious city was ruined tothe ground by Arab invaders in 869, by the Ghorid Sultan Alauddin in 1151 and Genghis Khan in 1221. The city did not recover its former grandeur, however, it enjoys a strategic position in the country’s economy.
MAJOR PLACES OF INTEREST:THE CITADEL:
One of the most imposing fortresses to be seen in Afghanistan, destroyed during the First Anglo-Afghan War, rebuilt but never to its previous splendor
PALANCE OF SULTAN MASOOD III:
The very center of the Ghaznavid Court, a caste complex including a throne room, government offices, soldiers’ quarters, a mosque with its minarets and pockets of gardens in addition to the royal apartment.
The two remaining Minarets, built by Sultan Masood III (1099 – 1114) and Bahram Shah (1118 – 1152), now only a fraction of their original height, served as models for the spectacular tower of Jam which in turn inspired the Qutob Minar in Delhi. The intricate decoration is in raised brick, without color and includes epigraphic friezes in square Kufic and Noshki script, in addition to panels of floral and geometric designs. That of sultan Masood is more elaborate.
OTHER INTERESTING SITES: .
Mausoleum of Sultan Mahmood, Museum of Islamic Art, Tapa Sardar Stupa, The tomb of Fateh Khan Barakzai.
|Kandahar, the birthplace and first capital of modern Afghanistan, founded by Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747, is today the second largest city of Afghanistan, located on the Asian Highway halfway between Kabul and Herat. The area is rich in ancient history. Here, Alexander the Great founded Alexandria of Arachosia and the region was repeatedly fought over by the Saffavids and Moghuls. It was the independent minded Afghan of Kandahar, first under the leadership of Mir Wais and then of Ahmad Shah Durrani, who hastened the decline of both empires and annexed much of their territories to the young Afghan Kingdom in the 18th Century.|
MAJOR PLACES OF INTEREST:MAUSOLEUMOF AHMAD SHAH DURRANI
MAUSOLEUM OFMIR WAIS
KHERQA E SHARIF:
This shrine containing the cloak of the Prophet Mohammad is the most sacred one in Afghanistan. This relic was brought to Kandahar by Ahmad Shah Durrani. CHEL ZINA: This interesting monument consists of 40 stairs leading to a camber carved into rock. Inside is an inscription stating that it was built by Babur the founder of the Moghul Empire, and listing the domains of the Emperor.
OTHER INTERESTING SITES:
Zor Shar (Old City), Shrine of Haratji Baba, Shrine of Baba Wali, Charsuq (bazar of 4 arcades).
is the capital of Helmand province, built around Helmand Arghandab Valley Authority which seeks to transform the deserts of the region into fertile fields as green as the were centuries ago before conquerors and anarchy consigned them to their present bareness.
Ancient Bost, now lies south of the modern administrative center. Bost is recognized in the Zoroaster hymn of AVESTA, in Achaemenid town lists and in 1st Century accounts. These references, however, are vague but there is not doubt that the citadel was taken by Arabconquerors around 661 A.D. In the 9th Century, the city grew to become the second city of the southwest. An Arab traveler in the middle of the 11th Century describes the city as: “… onethe principle cities in the province of Seistan, except Zaranj, no city is larger. The inhabitants are polite and generous … It is a city well supplied with provision, fruits and dates.” From the 11th until the middle of the 12th Century Bost prospered as teh winter capital of the Ghaznavids, was burned and looted in the 1151 by the Ghorids and then completely demolished by Genghis Khan in 1220.
Today the remains of the great palace of Masood still give the visitor and an idea of the splendor of the court of what was then the greatest Empire of the East. The most remarkable monument is the magnificently decorated arch which has span of 80 feet.
|The history ofHerat has been one of repeated destruction and reconstruction. Conqueror after conqueror, from the timeof Alexander the great built the fort which is still standing in the center of the city. From 1040 to 1175 the city was ruled by the Seljuks who defeated the Ghaznavids and destroyed the fortress. Herat was then captured by the Ghorids until the city fell under the control of the Khwarazm empire. In 1221, Herat was taken by Mongols and Tuli, the son of Genghis Khan, ruled for a time, but the citizens revolted and killed the Mongol garrison. Extremely angered, Genghis Khan rode upon the city with 80,000 troops and besieged it for six months, leaving only forty people living. In 1245 Herat was given to the Kart Maliks. Tamerlane destroyed Herat in 1381, however, his son, Shah Rukh, rebuilt it and started the cultural renaissance which made it the center of learning and culture. During the Timurid rule, the famous poet of Herat, Jami and the miniaturist, Behzad were born, Queen Gawhar Shad’s Mussalla wasbuilt and Guzargah restored. For the second time the city flourished. In 1718 the Afghan clan, Hotaki, struggled for Herat’s independence which continued wntil 1880, when finally the city became an integral part of Afghanistan.|
MAJOR PLACES OF INTEREST:THE CITADEL:
This fort, originally built by Alexander the great, suffered repeated attacks over the history, but still dominates the landscape of Herat. Held by the Ghaznavids, the Seljuks, the Ghorids, the Mongols, the Timurids, the Safavids and others, the citadel is a reminder of the times of kings, conquerors and great pageantry.
This great mosque, in the center of the city has been a place of worship since the time of Zoroaster. Rebuilt several times, the mosque now stands in perfect splendor since its most recent restoration which is nearing completion.
The tomb of the famous 11th Century poet and mystic Khwaja Abdullah Ansari was restored by Shah Rukh in 1428. Inside the courtyard lies the tomb of Amir Dost Mohammad Khan.
GAWHAR SHAD’S MAUSOLEUM:
built for GawharShad, wife of Shah Rukh, youngest son of Tamerlane. The brightly colored, ribbed domes were very popular with the Timurids.
One of the greatest 15th Century poets, Maulana Nuruddin Abdurrahmane Jame, born in 1414 achieved widespread fame in his time. He died in Herat in 1492 and buried in a grave unadorned, save for a pistachio tree which has sprung from the tomb itself.
Today, only six of the original twelve minarets remain of Queen Gawhar Shad’s great Musallacomplex, built in the late 1400s. It was the Queen’s contribution to the Timurids empire during a period of cultural accomplishments. It consisted of a madrassa or place of learning and musalla or place of worship. These magnificent buildings flanded by the minarets had been described at one time as the most imposing and eloquent structured to be seen in all Asia
Herat’s bazars are full of fascination and colorand were once an important trading center at the caravan route from Europe to china. Today, items of interest to visitors include the famous handwoven Herati carpets and the beautiful and rustic blue glass produced by the traditional glass blowers of the city.
|The Road to Balkh|
|The road to Balkh crosses the Hindukush via Salang Pass through the highest tunnel in the world(3363 m). A drive over this pass offers, besides scenic beauty, a thrilling experience of high altitude.En rout about 240 km from Kabul ( 12 km from Pule Khumri) lies Surkh Kotal, site of a great religious temple, founded 130 AD. by Kanishka the great, King of the Kushans. It is one of Afghanistan’s most important archeological sites, which was finally burned by the Hephthalites, nomadic rivals and ultimate successor to the Kushans.|
70 km further north lies Aibak, the capital of the Samangan province. 2 km nearby is an important Buddhist site, dating to the 4th Century, locally known as Takhte Rustam (Rustam’s Throne). Rustam, the hero of Firdausi’s great epic, the Shahnama (Book of Kings), written in Ghazni around 1010, married the beautiful daughter of the king of Samangan, Tahmina. The stupa cave crowns the hill in front of the monastery which was most probably destroyed by Hephthalites, around 460 AD. 60 km north lies Tashkorghan (khulm) with one of the last traditional Central Asian Covered Bazars left in Afghanistan. A stroll through this bazar is a fascinating ethnographic adventure. The large domed Tim Bazar is of special interest. So are, the Bala Hissar, the charming palace of Amir Abdur Rahman (Baghe Jahan Numa) and the tomb of Qilich Ali Beg, the most notable ruler of khulm (1786-1817).
| Balkh today only a small town, is very famous for its glorious past Zoroaster preached here sometime between 1000 and 600.Rites celebrated at the shrine to Anahita, godess of the oxus, attracted thousands during the 5th century and Alexander the great chose it for his base in the 4th century B.C. under the Kushans, when Buddhist was practiced throughout Afghanistan, many holy temples flourished in Balkh. The Arabs called Balkh the mother of cities. By the 9th century, during the rule of the Samanid Dynasty, about 40 Friday Mosques stood within the city. |
MAJOR PLACES OF INTEREST
The Madressa (college) of sayid Subhan Quli Khan.The ruins of the ancient city including the old city walls.The shrine and Mosque of Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa.The tomb of Rabia Balkhi.The Masjide no Gumbad (Mosque of the nine Domes). This exquisitely ornamented mosque, also referred to Haji Piyada, is the earliest Islamic monument yet identified in Afghanistan.Balkhi is the home of Rabia Balkhi, the first woman poet of Islamic period and of Mauwlana Jalaluddin Balkhi (Rumi), perhaps the most distinguished sufi poet. His Mansawi is considered as the greatest poem ever written in Persian language. Balkh’s glorious history closed in 1220 when the mounted men of Genghis Khan rode through and left it utterly devastated. The city, nevertheless, lying on an important trade route recovered under the enlightened rule of Shah Rukh and his Queen Gawhar Shad, of Heart.
|Mazar e Sharif|
| Mazar e Sharif, capital of Balkh province is a major trading center famous for Karakul, a great variety of traditional Turkman carpets and high-quality, long-staple cotton. The city is named for the magnificent shrine of Hazrat e Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammad (SAW), the fourth Caliph of Islam. Hazart e Ali was assassinated in 661 and buried in Kufa, near Baghdad. Local tradition, however, relates that his followers fearing enemies may take revenge on the body, placed his remains on a white she-camel which wandered until she fell exhausted. On this spot the body was buried. All knowledge of the final resting place was lost until its existence was revealed and great Seljuk Sultan Sanjar, ordered a shrine built here in 1136. Genghis Khan destroyed this building and again the grave laid unmarked until the second revolution during the reign of the Timur Sultan Hussain Baiqra. He ordered an elaborate shrine constructed in 1481. None of the 15th century decoration remains but modern restoration has returned the building to its original beauty. Thousands of white pigeons make their home there. |
Something especial about this shrine, whatever color pigeon joins this shrine it will miraculously turn into white periodically!
Amir Shir Ali Khan lays buried here with other members of Amir Dost Mohammad’s Family. The largest tomb is that of the Amir’s illustrious son, Mohammad Akbar Khan, who played a prominent role during the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1838-1842.Mazar e Sharif is visited by countless pilgrims throughout the year and particularly on Nawroz (21 March) when the great Janda (religious banner) is raised to announce the beginning of spring and the coming of the new year which is the most elaborately celebrated festival in Afghanistan.
|Jalalabad lies 150 km east of Kabul, passing Kabul Gorge, Naghlu, Sarobi and Darunta lakes. The capital of Ningrahar province is an oasis ringed by mountains. Places, large gardens and tree-lined avenues speak of its long history as a favored winter capital. Today hundreds of small villas indicate its popularity as a resort town. among many festivities taking place in this city, the most famous and outstanding are the Mushaira or poet’s festival dedicated to Jalalabad’s orange blossoms and Waissak, a religious Hindu festival.Seraj-ul-Emart, the residence of Amir Habibullah and king Amanullah was destroyed in 1929: the gardens however, retain vestiges of the past and offer a peaceful afternoon’s stroll. The Mausoleum of both rulers is enclosed by a garden facing Seraj-ul-Emart.Jalalabad is a junction and favored stopover for travelers to Nuristan and Khyber pass.11 km south of the city lies Hadda, one of the most sacred sports of Buddhist world dating from the 2nd to the 7th Century AD. Countless pilgrims came from every corner of the earth to worship at its many holy temples, maintained by thousands of monks and priests living in large monastery complexes. Ever during his lifetime, Buddha visited Hadda.This important archaeological site is still under excavation with much of it turned into an open air museum.|
|Nooristan refers to the area of Laghman and Ningrahar inhabited by approximately. 600.000 Nooristani. The area covers approximately 5,000 square miles with five main and numerous side valleys, each inhibited by a separate tribe speaking its own language, which, in many cases are mutually unintelligible and are grouped under the name Dardic, within the Indo- European language family. There are many physical and cultural differences between the people of Nooristan and those living around them, but the language is one.The fact that they prefer stools and chairs to a rug on the floor is another obvious difference. Nooristani music is quite distinct, as are their instruments, among which the harp is certainly the most noticeable. Alexander the great invited the young men to join his army for the Indian campaign. They proved their fighting quality with distinction. Many so-called “Greek” motifs and customs found in the Nooristani culture may well date from this experience.Throughout the centuries that followed, the people of these mountains successfully defied conquest and conversion even as Buddhism and Hinduism were replaced by Islam on the plains below. The Muslims labeled them Kafers because they worshipped a wide pantheon of nature spirits and practiced other customs incompatible with the Muslim religion.In 1895 the army of Amir Abdur Rahman finally succeeded in subduing the Kafers and converting them to Islam. When his victorious army arrived in Kabul, Amir announced that henceforth Kaferestan (land of the Infidels) was to be known as Nooristan (land of Light).A large part of Nooristan is inaccessible to all but those on foot for the trails are so difficult and precipitous, the foot-wide bridges 30 feet and more above angry frothing waters, are so dizzying that horses simply cannot maneuver them.Perhaps the most dramatic account of the hazards of traveling in Nooristan is told by the great Tamerlane. To subdue this little pocket of dissidents would be nothing for him, the world conqueror. Confidence soon turned to despair as he recounts the hardship the terrain inflicted upon him. At one point he was being lowered down the cliffs in a basket, a maneuver not befitting his image. Equally distressing was the attempt to death against the rocks. Tamerlane ends the account of his Nooristani campaign with a prayer of thanks for the deliverance from inhospitable Kaferestan.Almost all Nooristani villages are built on the tops of high peaks, the houses spill the mountainside, one on top of the other, the roof of one serving as the front porch and playground of the house above. Children play vigorous games on these roofs, hanging precariously over drops of many hundreds of feet, but rarely, so say their parents, do they plunge into the depths below.|
|Bamiyan with its archeological remains is the most conspicuous tourist sit of Afghanistan. The village lies about 2500m above sea level, 240 km west of Kabul attracts thousand of visitors annually. The exquisite beauty of this valley is embraced by the snow capped range ofthe Kohe Baba Mountains in the south and in the north by the steep cliffs in which massive images of Buddha are carved. The pastel colors of its surroundings give visitors an impression of the magnificence and serenity of nature. The area of Bamiyan developed under Kanishka the great to become a major commercial and religious center and the smaller statue of Buddha (38 m high) was builtduring his reign. Two centuries later the colossal Buddha statue (55m high) was carved. Thousands of ornamented caves, from the entire Buddhist world poured into Bamiyan to admire its spectacular and sacred sites. Bamiyan fell to the Islamic conquerors in the 9th century.|
The Islamic city of Bamiyan was destroyed by GenghisKhan in 1221 in revenge of the death of his grandson Mutugen. The ruins of the citadel called city of noise, still give evidence of its magnitude before Mongol devastation.
This mass of ruins was once a principle fortress, protecting the entrance to the city of Bamiyan during the reigns of the Shansabani Kings in the 12th and 13th century. It also fell victim to Genghis Khan’s vengeance.
This beautiful lush green valley embracedby picturesque mountains of fascinating formations and glooming ever colors, with a sparkling clear stream, full of trout leading in into a breathing chasm, is an unforgettable for every visitor.
|Band e Amir|
|Visitors to Afghanistan have marveled at the country’s natural beauty. The formidable Hindu Kush the vest Turkistan plains, and the seclusion of the southern deserts have impressed travelers from Alexander the great to Marco Polo. It is the unspoiled natural beauty that forms the visitor’s first and most enduring impression lakes of Bande Amir are perhaps the most out standing situated in the mountainous Hazarajat at an altitude of approximately 3000 m, 75 km from Bamiyan, these majestic blue lakes are of legendary beauty|
|How to get to Afghanistan|
|Tourist from across the world can visit Afghanistan using air transportation. They can fly to Kabul International Airline and arrange the tour from Kabul. They can either fly or use vehicles to visit the most famous place in this country. They can arrange their tours from Kabul to the following provinces of this country.KandaharHeratBamianBalkhGhazniNangarhar|
Tourists can visit the following places in Afghanistan:
Qargha lake west of KabulTaq-e-zafar in Paghman districtNational MuseumBal-e-Hisar ( a military fort)Kabul old city ( Shorbazaar)
From Kabul to Bamian ( 260 KM)
They can visit: the damaged sculpture of Buda Band-e-Amir ( Amir Dam)
Zahak cityFrom Kabul to Balkh ( 490 km)
They can visit:Salang passTakht-e-rostam in samangan ( Rostam’s bed)Burj-e-Ayaran ( Temple)Rabia Balkhi graveKhuja Parsa-e-waliChashma-e-shefa ( a spring that heals you)Hazrat-e-Ali shrine ( the fourth caliph of Mohammad PBUH)
From Kabul to Herat ( 1050 km)
They can visit:Herat templesHerat historical mosqueGawharshad Bigom graveKhawja Galtan-e-WaliPark-e-MilatKhawaja Abdullah Ansari ShrineHerat military fort
From Kabul to Kunduz ( 360 km)
They can visit:Aikhanom historical place
From Heral to Ghor: (70km)
They can visit:Jam temple
From Kabul to Nangarhar( 150km)
They can visit:Can cross the silk roadSara AL Emara gardenTora Bora ( once where there were terror training centers)From Kabul to Nuristan and Kunar (340km)
They can visit:Historical places of this provinceOld towns representing the time of Buda
From Kabul to Ghazni ( 150km)
They can visit:Historical templesSultan Mahmood Ghaznawi’s GraveMuseumSabektagin’s grave Many more natural sights