Kabul: Lots of refugees turned back and settled down in Kabul, which has doubled its population. Since American invasion the city has become very expensive and the cost of living is still growing. In the center some new buildings have been built or renovated but in the suburbs people live in the poverty. The roads are muddy and dirty, full of litter. Some sights like ruined palaces may be disappointing. The Kabul River, which separates the city into two parts, is dirty and full of rubbish. Some Afghan joke that your hands are more sanitary than the tap water. However, lots of effort has been put to make the city attractive for foreign investors and tourists. Now according to statistics it is one of the fastest developing cities in the world. Public transport is becoming more and more efficient. In 2002 Kabul International Airport was opened for civilian airlines.
The city boasts Kabul City Center a luxury mall with glass elevators and marble floors.
The city is trying to attract tourists with modern hotels. Marriott, Intercontinental and other high-class hotels can be found in Kabul.
Although security is definitely a concern the city is safer than it used to be but well planned visit and working with a local agency for example Afghan Logistics and Tours to ensure a safe trip could be recommended. Asking for guidance where and when to go, or asking local people for permission before taking photos will definitely make your trip less troublesome. Taking pictures of police and soldiers is forbidden.
Bagh-e-Babur (Gardens and Tomb of Babur)
Bagh-e-Babur is the largest and one of the oldest garden in Afghanistan. It covers the area of more than 11 ha and is arranged on 15 terraces from which visitors have a spectacular view on the Kabul River, the city and nearby mountains.
Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, the conqueror from Central Asia and the first emperor of Mongol (Mughal in Persian language) dynasty is believed to rest here. He was a descendent of Timur through his father and Genghis Khan through his mother. In 1504 Kabul was in political chaos. The ruler of A… dynasty died leaving his one year old son as a heir and the temporary usurper did not get support from the local populace. Babur took advantage of the situation and captured the city. Babur was known as an art lover. He was delighted with great philosophers, artists, poets and other wisemen he met in Herat while visiting his distant relatives. He also pursued his interests in gardening. As a passionate gardener he designed at least ten gardens in Kabul. Later in his thirties Babur was also known for wine and opium host parties. He gave up drinking because of health reasons shortly before his death. In 1526 he set off to India, conquered the land and transferred the capital from Kabul to Agra. When his oldest son Humayun got seriously ill, Babur prayed for his recovery asking God to make him sick instead of Humayun. His prayers were granted. Babur picked up the illness and died. His son survived and ruled the country. After his death in Agra (Northern India) his wife transferred his body to Bagh-e-Babur. He had wished to be buried in Kabul but the reasons for choosing this particular garden is unknown.
The garden has been reconstructed many times. Amir Abdur Rahman added a haramseray in the southeast corner and a pavilion on the 9th terrace. Today the seray serves as an exhibition center.
Shah Jahal Mosque in Bagh-e-Babur
Shah Jahal Mosque was built in 1638 by Babur’s great great grandson Shah Jahan in honour to the Emperor Babur. The site attracts both tourisis and pilgrims. Shah Jahal’s passion for building resulted in the world famous structures. He is the founder of Taj Mahal, the Red Fort (a huge fortess-palace complex), Masjid Mosque which is the finest mosque in Delhi, Pearl Mosque and Great Mosque in Agra. According to written accounts Shah Jahal was relatively a tolerant ruler towards his Hindu subjects. He moved the capital from Agra to Delhi creating a city called Shahjahalabad.
Ka Faroshi Bird Market
Ka Faroshi Bird Market is located behind the Pul-e-Khishti mosque. It will take you back to another century and give you unforgettable experience. Twisted and turned alleys are full of variety of birds like partridges, pigeons, canaries, larks kept in domed, round, light cages made of reeds. Some birds are raised for fighting but fighting is more ornamental than cruel. The place is not a touristic one so accompany of a local guide is recommended. Women hardly ever go there.
Pul-e-Khisti Mosque can be easily identified because of its blue dome. Built in 18th century is the largest mosque in Kabul. The mosque is located in a commercial area of the city.
The National Museum
The first museum in Afghanistan was established in 1919 at Bagh-i-Bala (High Garden) palace and housed possessions of former royal families. About ten years later the collection was moved to the present building at Darulaman Road, opposite Darulaman Palace. The museum is quite small, easy to navigate but possesses admirable collection of art and sculpture.