KandaharThis article is about the city in Afghanistan. For the 2001 film, see Kandahar (film). For the Kandahar meteorite of 1959, see meteorite falls.
کندهار View of Arghandab Valley
KandaharProvinceKandaharCoordinates31°37′01″N 65°43′01″E / 31.617, 65.717Population (2006)
Central Statistics Office of AfghanistanArea
1,000 m (3,281 ft) Time zoneUTC+4:30Kabul
Kandahār, also spelled Qandahār, (Pashto: کندهار) is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with population of 450,300 people (2006 estimate). It is the capital of Kandahar province, located in the south part of the country at about 3,297 feet (1,005 m) above sea level. The Arghandab River runs right next to the city.
Kandahar is a major trading center for sheep, wool, cotton, silk, felt, food grains, fresh and dried fruit, and tobacco. The region produces fine fruits, especially pomegranates and grapes, and the city has plants for canning, drying, and packing fruit. Kandahar has an international airport and extensive road links with Farah and Herat to the west, Ghazni and Kabul to the northeast, Tarin Kowt to the north, and Quetta in Pakistan to the south. Kandahar is a Pashto-speaking city, with Pashtuns being the main inhabitants.
Alexander the Great founded Kandahar in the 4th century BC and named it Alexandria. Many empires have long fought over the city, due to its strategic location along the trade routes of Southern and Central Asia. In 1748, Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Durrani Empire, made Kandahar the capital of Afghanistan.
- 1 Name
- 2 History
- 3 Infrastructure
- 4 Places of interest
- 5 Notable people from Kandahar
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Kandahar may have been derived from Gandhara, the name of an ancient Indian kingdom to the north along the modern Kashmir and Afghanistan border, and a former satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire, although Kandahar in modern times and the ancient Gandhara are not the same, geographically.. Another possibility is that it could be derived from the Arabic rendering of Alexander's name. A temple to the deified Alexander as well as an inscription in Greek and Aramaic by the emperor Ashoka, who lived a few decades later, have been discovered in the old citadel.
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree, the University of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution, and others suggest that the region around Kandahar is one of the oldest human settlements known so far. Dupree writes:
...Early peasant farming villages came into existence in Afghanistan ca. 5000 B.C., or 7000 years ago. Deh Morasi Ghundai, the first prehistoric site to be excavated in Afghanistan, lies 27 km (17 mi.) southwest of Kandahar (Dupree, 1951). Another Bronze Age village mound site with multiroomed mud-brick buildings dating from the same period sits nearby at Said Qala (J. Shaffer, 1970). Second millennium B.C. Bronze Age pottery, copper and bronze horse trappings and stone seals were found in the lowermost levels in the nearby cave called Shamshir Ghar (Dupree, 1950). In the Seistan, southwest of these Kandahar sites, two teams of American archaeologists discovered sites relating to the 2nd millennium B.C. (G. Dales, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1969, 1971; W, Trousdale, Smithsonian Institution, 1971 – 76). Stylistically the finds from Deh Morasi and Said Qala tie in with those of pre-Indus Valley sites and with those of comparable age on the Iranian Plateau and in Central Asia, indicating cultural contacts during this very early age...Bilingual Edict of Ashoka (in Greek and Aramaic), found in Kandahar. Circa 250 BC, Afghan National Museum.
- Main article: Alexandria in Arachosia
Kandahar was founded in 330 BC by Alexander the Great, near the site of the ancient city of Mundigak (established around 3000 BC). Previously, the city was the provincial capital of Arachosia and was ruled by the Achaemenid Empire. The main inhabitants of Arachosia were the Pactyans, an ancient Iranian tribe, who were probably one of the ancestors of today's Pashtuns. Kandahar was named Alexandria, a popular name given to many cities that Alexander founded or refounded during his conquests.
The city has been a frequent target for conquest because of its strategic location in Southern Asia, controlling the main trade route linking the Indian subcontinent with the Middle East, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. It later became part of the Mauryan Empire after the departure of Alexander. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka erected a pillar there with a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic. The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom occupied Kandahar after the Mauryans, but then lost the city to the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
In the 7th century AD, Arab armies brought the new religion of Islam to the region but were unable to succeed in fully converting the population. In 870 AD, Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, a local ruler of the Saffarid dynasty in Seistan, conquered Kandahar and the rest of the nearby regions in the name of Islam. Dupree writes:
...Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam came out of the west to defeat the Sasanians in 642 AD and then they marched with confidence to the east. On the western periphery of the Afghan area the princes of Herat and Seistan gave way to rule by Arab governors but in the east, in the mountains, cities submitted only to rise in revolt and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed. The harshness and avariciousness of Arab rule produced such unrest, however, that once the waning power of the Caliphate became apparent, native rulers once again established themselves independent. Among these the Saffarids of Seistan shone briefly in the Afghan area. The fanatic founder of this dynasty, the coppersmith’s apprentice Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, came forth from his capital at Zaranj in 870 AD and marched through Bost, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul, Bamiyan, Balkh and Herat, conquering in the name of Islam...
Kandahar was taken by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century. In the 13th century it was invaded by Genghis Khan and his Mongol armies. It became part of the Timurid Empire during the 14th century and 15th century, which was founded by Tamerlane. Pir Muhammad, grandson of Tamerlane, held the seat of government in Kandahar from about 1383 until his death in 1407. Following Pir Mohammad's death, the city was ruled by other Timurids.
Tamerlane's descendant, Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire, annexed Kandahar in the 16th century. Babur's son, Humayun, lost it to the Shah of Persia. Humayun's son, Akbar, regained control of Kandahar but by the early 1700s subsequent Mughal emperors lost the territory once again to the Persians.
Modern historyAhmad Shah Durrani being crowned as the first Emir of Afghanistan in October 1747.
Mirwais Khan Hotak, a local Afghan (Pashtun) from the Ghilzai clan, revolted and killed Gurgin Khan, the Georgian governor who ruled in the name of the Persian Shah. Mirwais Khan succefully defeated the Persians, who were attempting to convert the local people from Sunni to the Shia sect of Islam. Mirwais Khan remained in power until his death in 1715 and was succeeded by his son, Mir Mahmud Hotaki.
In 1722, Mir Mahmud led an army of Afghans to Isfahan (now in Iran), sacked the city and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Hotaki dynasty was eventually removed from power by a new ruler, Nader Shah Afshar, who conquered Kandahar in 1738 but was assassinated nine years later.
Ahmad Shah Durrani, an ethnic Pashtun from the Abdali clan, gained control of Kandahar in 1747 and made it the capital of his new Afghan Empire. Previously, Ahmad Shah served as a military commander and personal bodyguard of Nader Shah. His empire included present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran. In October 1772, Ahmad Shah retired to his home in Maruf, Kandahar, where he died peacefully. The (now) "Old City" was laid out by Ahmad Shah and is dominated by his mausoleum. In 1776, his eldest son Timur Shah Durrani transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul, where the Durrani legacy continued.A view of the Chilzina mountain and adjacent area in 1881.
Kandahar was sometimes a center of jihad and Mujahideen activities, but local Pashtun tribes tended to live by their pre-Islamic code of honor known as Pashtunwali. On 28th Muharram 1242 Hijri (September 2, 1826) Sayed Ahmad Shahid's forces reached Kandahar en route to Peshawar. Their purpose was to wage jihad against the Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh and aid their fellow Pashtuns of the N.W.F.P. Within a few days more than 400 Kandarians presented themselves for the jihad, out of whom 270 were selected. Sayed Deen Muhammad Kandarai was appointed their leader.
British and Indian forces from British India (now Pakistan and India) occupied the city in 1839, during the first Anglo-Afghan war. They were forced to withdraw approximately three years later, in 1842. The British and Indian forces returned in 1878 during the second Anglo-Afghan war in which they were again forced to withdraw a few years later, despite winning a battle near the city (see Battle of Kandahar). Kandahar remained peaceful for the next 100 years.Kandahar International Airport in 1969.
In the 1960s, Kandahar International Airport was built, with the help of the United States Agency for International Development, 10 miles (16 kilometers) south-east of the city. It was used by the Red Army during their ten-year occupation of the country. As of 2001, the airport is used by the US and NATO forces as a military base.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989), Kandahar was under Soviet command and witnessed heavy fighting. Soviet troops surrounded the city, and subjected it to a savage artillery and air bombardment in which many innocent civilians lost their lives. After the Soviet withdrawal and the fall of Najibullah's government in 1992, Kandahar fell into the hands of a local militia leader (Gul Agha Sherzai).
In August 1994, the Taliban captured Kandahar and turned the city into their capital. Since their removal in late 2001, smaller bands have spread throughout the nearby provinces. Kandahar once again came under the control of Gul Agha Sherzai, who had controlled the province and city before the rise of the Taliban, and was credited with permitting the same corruption that first fueled the growth of the Taliban. Sherzai was transferred in 2003 and replaced by Yusuf Pashtun until the current Asadullah Khalid took the post in 2005.
The military of Afghanistan, which is supported by US and NATO forces, has gradually expanded its authority and presence throughout the country. Kandahar is in full control of the new Afghan government, which is led by US-backed President Hamid Karzai. The Canadian Forces maintain their military command headquarters at Kandahar, being the main NATO-led security force in the province.
Kandahar International Airport has been used by the NATO forces to deliver troops and humanitarian supplies since late 2001. Repairs and upgrades also occurred during that period; the airport re-opened for civilian use in late 2006.
Commuters of the city use the public bus system (Millie Bus), and yellow taxicabs are common. Private vehicle use is increasing, partially due to road and highway improvements. Large dealerships are importing cars from Dubai, UAE.
Communications and technology
Telecommunication services in the city are provided by InstaTelecom, Afghan Wireless, Roshan, Etisalat and Areeba mobile companies. In November 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a US 64.5 million dollar agreement with a company (ZTE Corporation) for the establishment of a countrywide fiber optical cable network. This will improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services not just in Kandahar but throughout the country.
Besides foreign channels, Afghanistan's local television channels include:
Reconstruction and developmentsThe model plan of a 20,000 homes development project called Kandahar Valley.
Due to almost 30 years of destruction and no development, Kandahar (along with the rest of the country) is going through a nationwide reconstruction period. As of 2002, large amounts of money have been pouring in for construction purposes. New modern-style buildings are slowly replacing the older ones. Kandahar's major highways were repaired and completed including the highway to Kabul. However, work on smaller roads in some parts around the city is still in progress.
Kandahar's residents have access to clean drinking water and 24 hour electricity. Although not every part of the city may receive it, plans and works are underway to extend these services to every home.
Up to 20,000 single-family homes and associated infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer systems, and community buildings, including schools, are under construction on empty land in Kandahar.
About 6 miles (10km) east of Kandahar, a huge industrial park is under construction with modern facilities. The park will have professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons.
A railroad track from the Pakistani town of Chaman to Kandahar is planned for the near future. The feasibility study was completed in or about early 2006, allowing for the next step to lay-down the rail track. The work on the rail track will take approximately 2 years to complete.
Places of interest
The most important historical monument in Kandahar is the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Durrani, who founded the Durrani Empire. The shrine of the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed, adjoining Ahmad Shah’s mausoleum, is one of the holiest shrines in Afghanistan. The Mosque that contains Hair of Muhammad is located inside the covered bazaar, on the left as you enter from Kabul Bazaar.
The charming village of Sher Surkh is located southeast of the city, in the suburbs of the old city of Nadirabad. Kandahar Museum is located at the western end of the third block of buildings lining the main road east of Eidgah Durwaza (gate). It has many paintings by the now famous Ghiyassuddin, painted while he was a young teacher in Kandahar. He is acknowledged among Afghanistan’s leading artists.
Just to the north of the city, off its northeast corner at the end of buria (matting) bazaar, there is a charming shrine dedicated to a celebrated saint who lived in Kandahar more than 300 years ago. The grave of Hazratji Baba, 23 feet (7.0 m) long to signify his greatness, but otherwise covered solely by rock chips, is undecorated save for tall pennants at its head. A monument to pious martyrs (Shahidan: those who died in battle defending their land) stands in the center of Kandahar’s main square called Da Shahidanu Chawk, which was built in the 1940s.
The Chilzina is a rock-cut chamber above the plain at the end of the rugged chain of mountains forming the western defence of Kandahar’s Old City. Forty steps, about, lead to the chamber which is guarded by two chained lions, defaced, and inscribed with an account of Moghul conquest. The rugged cliffs from which the Chilzina was hewn form the natural western bastion of the Old City of Kandahar which was destroyed in 1738 by Nadir Shah Afshar of Persia.
A short distance from Chilzina, going west on the main highway, a bright blue dome appears on the right. This is the mausoleum of Mir Wais Khan, the Ghilzai chieftain who declared Kandahar’s independence from the Persians in 1709.
The shrine of Baba Wali, its terraces shaded by pomegranate groves beside the Arghandab River, is also very popular for picnics and afternoon outings.Night view of Kandahar International Airport in 2007. The Shrine of Baba Wali in the Arghandab district.
- Arghandab Valley
- Kandahar Valley (under construction)
- Mirwais Mina
- Shāri Noe
- Zoar Shār (Old City)
- Mosques and Shrines
- Friday Mosque
- Jama-e Mubārak or Mosque of the Hair of the Prophet
- Shrine of Baba Wali
- Herat Bazaar
- Kabul Bazaar
- Shah Bazaar
- Shkar Pur Bazaar
Notable people from Kandahar
- Hamid Karzai
- Said Tayeb Jawad
- Nur Jahan
- Mirwais Khan Hotak
- Mir Mahmud Hotaki
- Gul Agha Sherzai
- ^ a b c Alexander the Great: his towns - Alexandria in Arachosia...Link
- ^ Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition) - Kandahar...Link
- ^ Columbia Encyclopedia (Fifth Edition) - The City of Kandahar...Link
- ^ Hobson Jobson Dictionary
- ^ Gandara...Link
- ^ W. Vogelsang, "Gandahar", in The Circle Of Ancient Iranian Studies
- ^ E. Herzfeld, "The Persian Empire: Studies on Geography and Ethnography of the Ancient Near East", ed. G. Walser, Wiesbaden 1968, pp. 279, 293-94, 336-38, 345
- ^ Ashoka's Rock Edicts...Link
- ^ a b Dupree, Nancy Hatch (1971) "Sites in Perspective (Chapter 3)" An Historical Guide To Afghanistan Afghan Tourist Organization, Kabul, OCLC 241390 Copy here is non-attributed.
- ^ Map of the Median Empire from the University of Texas in Austin, showing Pactyans in what is now Kandahar, Afghanistan...Link
- ^ Mentioned in Bopearachchi, "Monnaies Greco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques", p52. Original text in paragraph 19 of Parthian stations
- ^ Maurya dynasty...Link
- ^ Afghanland - Mirwais Khan Hotak...Link
- ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica - The Hotakis (from Afghanistan)...Link
- ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica - The Durrani dynasty...Link
- ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica - Ahmad Shah Durrani...Link
- ^ a b Nancy Hatch Dupree - An Historical Guide To Afghanistan - The South (Chapter 16)...Link
- ^ Conflict Studies Journal at the University of New Brunswick...Link
- ^ Reuters, Link
- ^ Pajhwok Afghan News - AAA begins flights for Kandahar... Link
- ^ Lonely Planet - Tony Wheeler - Afghanistan Practicalities...Link
- ^ Pajhwok Afghan News - Ministry signs contract with Chinese company...Link
- ^ South Asian News Agency, 30 Power Generators to Be Installed in Kandahar
- ^ U.S. Department of State, U.S. Government Agency Grants $3 Million to Build Afghan Homes
- ^ Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Afghanistan Industrial Parks Development Authority
- Dupree, Nancy Hatch [1st Edition: 1970] (1977). An Historical Guide to Afghanistan, 2nd Edition, Revised and Enlarged, Afghan Tourist Organization.
- Hill, John E. 2004. The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu. Draft annotated English translation.
- Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation. 
- Thapar, Romila (1963): Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas. Oxford University Press. 3rd impression, New Delhi, 1980.
- Frye, Richard N. (1963). The Heritage of Persia. World Publishing company, Cleveland, Ohio. Mentor Book edition, 1966.
- Toynbee, Arnold J. (1961). Between Oxus and Jumna. London. Oxford University Press.
- Vogelsang, W. (1985). "Early historical Arachosia in South-east Afghanistan; Meeting-place between East and West." Iranica antiqua, 20 (1985), pp. 55-99.
- Wood, Michael (1997). In the footsteps of Alexander the Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia. BBC, London. First published 1997. Paperback Edition 2001.
External linksWikimedia Commons has media related to: Kandahar
- Old photos of Kandahar
- Photo Gallery of Kandahar
- Historical Guide To Afghanistan - Kandahar
- News about Canadian Forces in Kandahar, via MILNEWS.ca
- Lancia Kandahar
- Alexandria in Arachosia
- ARACHOSIA, province (satrapy)
- Kandahar's cemetery of 'miracles'
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