Afghanistan, July 10, 2019 A portrait gallery – where older women usually flatly refused, older men acquiesced and younger people were happy to pose, as were the children.
Samangan, Afghanistan July 8, 2019 Some hundred kilometers southeast of Mazar-i-Sharif is the provincial town of Samangan. A nondescript town now, but it was once a flourishing Buddhist center with a monastery and an unusual stupa built in the Kushan period of 4th to 5th centuries. Predictably, it was on my wish list to visit … More The Throne that is no Throne
Balkh, Afghanistan July 7, 2019 Green Mosque The Green mosque, colloquially called Haji Parsa is supposedly one of its highlights, but it is a battered sight. The damage suffered during the civil war shows in the jagged edges rearing against the sky. It was commissioned in the 15th century by Queen Gowhar Shad, wife of … More Famed Mosques of Balkh
Balkh, Afghanistan July 6, 2019 On the plains between the western edge of the Hindu Kush and northern shores of Amy Darya or Oxus, is a plain that was once the kingdom of Bactria. Looking at the scruffy, rough-at-the-edges areas of Balkh, you would hardly think this was once a grand city and the capital … More In the Kingdom of Bactria
Bamiyan, Afghanistan July 2, 2019 The long ridge is visible just about from almost everywhere in town. Pockmarked with caves, it is famous for once having housed the largest standing Buddha statues in the world. But they are no more. In 2001 when the Taliban occupied this district, they tried using rifles and artillery shells … More The Buddhas of Bamiyan
On the road from Kabul to Bamiyan Afghanistan July 1, 2019 Before arriving in the country, I had read that road travel in Afghanistan is to be avoided. Many roads are within Taliban-held territory and road blocks are a common tactic to kidnapping foreigners. Nor are foreigners the only targets; well-known or affluent Afghanis are … More Incognito in a Burqa
Herat, Afghanistan June 28, 2019 Persepolis in Shiraz has detailed carved reliefs of the peoples of Herat in stylized Scythian dress. I remember them well. They are also found carved on the tombs of Naqsh-e-Rustam and in the inscription of Darius. Herat may well have a history that goes back further but by the time … More A Glimpse of Herat
Kabul, Afghanistan June 27, 2019 The snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush lay below as the plane flew in from Islamabad. I was glued to the window as we crossed into Afghanistan. This is a mountainous country, with soaring peaks. It is a harsh land and arid except for the patches of green that follow … More In a State of Shock