"The once magnificent city of Kabul" Top 5 Page for this destination Kabul by husain

Kabul Travel Guide: 139 reviews and 289 photos


The 3,000 year old city and capital of this war ravaged country, Kabul lies in a valley in the Hindukush mountains, at an elevation of 1,800 meters.
Located on the ancient silk route, the city has been built- ravaged- rebuilt and destroyed again over the years. Infact, in the early 16th century, it became the capital of the Mughal empire under Babur.
From the time of `the great game' in the 19th century, where the British empire and imperial Russia fought to control it, to the cold war, the Taleban and subsequently the US bombings, Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan has been taken to the verge of ruin.
A once proud and prosperous nation is once again trying to emerge from devastation of past conflicts.
I have managed 3 trips to this incredible part of the world. The latest being April 2006, when i was shooting a film for the World Bank. The changes have been heartening, yet the challenges seem as immense as ever...
(PS- there is some related content and pictures on my Afghanistan page too)

Kabul 2003

One year after my first trip, many changes to the look of the city.
Dozens of cybercafes and mobile phones, shops, some movie theaters that screened bollywood films from India, and various restaurants- chinese, thai, indian, croatian... The traffic looks smoother, and new buildings are coming up in some places. So yes, it was a different looking kabul that i returned to this year, on another television shoot. How much of this has trickled down to help the average afghan is open to debate though.

The resaurants were not the cheapest places to eat, and almost entirely catered to the sizable NGO presence and other foreigners... The huge amounts that the foreign agencies dish out as rent etc, has meant a great spiral in property prices... so much, that afghans are finding it tough to afford a decent house to live in sometimes.

many fresh pictures to add and many tales of course... one cant return from afghanistan without a load of those...

the first visit... 2002

I had seen pictures of this building (Darulaman palace) hanging in the guest house we were staying at... and it looked beautiful. I often wondered where it was, since we hadnt seen it around town inspite of shooting in the city all day long for over a week.
Just two days before we were to pack our bags and catch our flight back to Delhi, Mahajir our interpreter, told us that we could get some good shots at the palace... my eyes lit up. All this while i had been imagining that the palace was someplace out of town and had probably remained largely intact like it looked in the pictures...
This is the sight that i came upon when we finally got there. My heart sank.
The structure is the Darulaman palace, built by King Amannullah in the 1920s. I am told that the road that leads up to it, was once lined with poplar trees. Now, theres a whole lot of buildings along the way, most of them reduced to rubble...

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:the people, the stories, the experience
  • Cons:the security situation...
  • In a nutshell:i am glad i visited
  • Last visit to Kabul: Apr 2006
  • Intro Updated Dec 28, 2008
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Reviews (33)

Comments (50)

  • katalin's Profile Photo
    Feb 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Great page, and pictures, very touching photos of children...

  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
    Dec 21, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    Hi Husain - I'm fascinated by this city (and country). I don't know if I'll ever have to opportunity to visit though. Nice tips and photos - thanks for sharing.

  • Feb 4, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    ate many times at the Thai Restuarant 2004. Was a wonderful surprise. I am trying to find an old friend. Can you help me. His name is Marshall Perry. It was told to me he purchased one of the fine older Russian homes there in Kabul. Please reply.

  • Nov 14, 2006 at 2:55 PM

    The reasons they're all Toyotas (taxis): Pakistan has Toyota factories giving cheap access to spare parts. Most cars stolen in Pak end up in Af. Toyotas have a reputation for being tough as nails.

  • Siddha3th's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2006 at 11:42 PM

    From the 'graveyard of tanks', to the broken down palace at Istalif, to the naughty Afghan kids... just fascinating pages. So nice to come across something as intriguing and vital as this on VT. So long Husain... Siddharth. P.S. - could we swap jobs? :-)

  • Nourin's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2006 at 4:16 AM

    Thanx for the reminder... :-)

  • raonandita's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2006 at 2:06 PM

    great page hussu, you must read the "kite runner" its a beautiful book about kabul youll love it since youve been there.

  • karma_kola's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2006 at 3:34 AM

    waah waah as usual lovely fotos

  • j-san's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2006 at 9:56 AM

    That "On the streets" intro pic is fantastic!

  • Apr 18, 2006 at 7:36 AM

    Your pictures and descriptions make me want to visit Kabul very soon. Very informative.

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