Ghazni, Afghanistan

It lies beside the Ghazni River on a high plateau at an elevation of 2,225 meter. Afghanistan's only remaining walled town, it is dominated by a 45 metre high citadel built in the 13th century. Around the nearby village of Rowzeh-e Sultan, on the old road to Kabul, 130 km northeast), are the ruins of ancient Ghazna, including two 43-metre towers and the tomb of Mahmud of Ghazna (971-1030), the most powerful emir (or sultan) of the Ghaznavid dynasty.

Capital of Ghazni province with a population of 35,900 on the Lora River. Located on the Kabul-Kandahar trade route, Ghazni is a market for sheep, wool, camel hair cloth, corn, and fruit. The famed Afghan sheepskin coats are made in the city. The city, named Ghazna in ancient times, was flourishing by the 7th cent. but reached its peak (962&endash;c.1155) under the Turkish Ghaznavid dynasty. Mahmud of Ghazni built a magnificent mosque, the Celestial Bride, there. The kings of Ghor sacked Ghazni in 1149 but later (1173) made it their secondary capital. Mahmud's tomb and two high Ghazni victory columns outside the city escaped destruction. Ghazni's strong fortress was taken by the British in 1839 and 1842 during the Afghan Wars. The main city on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, it became a strategic military target during the Russian-Afghan War. The walled, old city of Ghazni, with its numerous bazaars, contains the ruins of ancient Ghazni. Ghazni is now a chief commercial and industrial centre of Afghanistan, dealing in livestock, furs, silk, and agricultural products.

Ghazni's early history is obscure; it has probably existed at least since the 7th century. Early in the 11th century, under Mahmud of Ghazna, the town became the capital of the vast empire of the Ghaznavids, Afghanistan's first Muslim dynasty. The dynasty lost much of its power later in the same century, and Ghazni was sacked in 1150-51 by the Ghurids. The town was fought over by various peoples before the Mongols secured it by 1221. They ruled the area until Timur (Tamerlane), the Turkic conqueror, arrived in the 14th century, and his descendants ruled it until 1504, when the Indian Mughals took Ghazni and Kabul. In 1747, under Ahmad Shah Durrani, Ghazni became part of the new Afghan kingdom.

 

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