Photo Diary: Afghanistan Tour (Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan, Band-e Amir, Mazar-I-Sharif and Other)

Photo Diary: Afghanistan Tour (Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan, Band-e Amir, Mazar-I-Sharif and Other)
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In today's article, we will take you on a virtual journey to a misunderstood land where ancient civilizations have left their mark on rugged mountains and sweeping valleys. Afghanistan, a land often overshadowed by conflict, unveils a strikingly different side to those who dare to look beyond the headlines. It's a place of profound beauty and cultural richness, a stark contrast to its war-torn reputation. Our latest trip in May 2024 took a small group of adventurous travellers  through this complex and beautiful country. Our travellers and tour leaders captured on camera  moments of daily life, local traditions, and stunning natural landscapes. By sharing these photographs today, we hope to also share a glimpse of the warmth and hospitality we encountered, as well as the timeless scenery that frames the daily lives of its people. So, let's dive in!

The Architecture

Afghanistan's architecture reflects its rich history and diverse cultural influences. From grand mosques with intricate designs to ancient mausoleums that tell stories of the past, Afghanistan's architectural heritage offers a glimpse into its complex history and enduring spirit. 

Shrine of Hazrat Ali in Mazar-Sherif, Afghanistan

Shrine of Hazrat Ali, Mazar-i-Sharif

 In Mazar-i-Sharif, you will find the majestic Shrine of Hazrat Ali, also known as the Blue Mosque. It is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture with a shimmering blue-tiled façade and intricate mosaics, and is believed to be the final resting place of Ali ibn Abi Talib. The mosque's serene courtyards and ornate prayer halls attract pilgrims and visitors, providing a peaceful sanctuary in the city.

 Shah-e Dо Shamshira Mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan

Shah-e Dо Shamshira Mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan

The Shah-e Du Shamshira Mosque in Kabul is notable for its unique two-story design that blends Islamic and Italian Baroque architectural styles. Built in the early 20th century, its bright yellow exterior and detailed interior make it a striking historical landmark near the Kabul River.

 The Great Mosque of Herat, Аfghanistan

The Great Mosque of Herat, Аfghanistan

 The Great Mosque of Herat

In the historic city of Herat, the Central Blue Mosque, also known as The Great Mosque of Herat, stands as a symbol of the region's artistic and architectural achievements. Originally constructed in the 15th century by the Timurid ruler Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqarah, this mosque features expansive courtyards, beautiful minarets, and intricate tilework that showcases the finest of Timurid craftsmanship.

 Gawhar Shad Mausoleum, Herat, Afghanistan

 Gawhar Shad Mausoleum, Herat

The Gawhar Shad Mausoleum is a tribute to one of the most influential women in Afghan history. Gawhar Shad, the wife of the Timurid ruler Shah Rukh, was a patron of architecture and the arts. Her mausoleum, with its striking dome and intricate tilework, reflects the grandeur of the Timurid era.

The Landscapes

Afghanistan's scenery is remarkably diverse, offering a range of breathtaking landscapes. The rugged Hindu Kush mountains dominate the skyline with their snow-capped peaks and deep valleys. Expansive deserts feature rolling sand dunes and stark, arid beauty. Fertile valleys provide lush greenery and flowing rivers, while the central highlands offer sweeping plateaus. Additionally, serene lakes and winding rivers cut through the terrain, adding to the country's scenic vistas.

Afghanistan Scenery Mountains

 Life in Afghanistan, Mountain Scenery

 Mountain Range in Afghanistan

 The People

Equally striking as the natural beauty of Afghanistan is the warmth and hospitality of its people. Afghans are known for their genuine friendliness and eagerness to welcome visitors, often inviting tourists into their homes for tea or a meal. This hospitality is deeply rooted in their culture, where guests are treated with utmost respect and generosity. Locals show a natural curiosity towards tourists, eager to share stories about their lives and learn about different cultures. Despite the challenges they face, the Afghan people remain open-hearted and resilient, leaving a lasting impression on those who have the opportunity to experience their kindness firsthand.

A man in Afghanistan

 A man in Afghanistan waving at tourists

 Everyday life in Afghanistan

 The History

 Afghanistan's rich history spans millennia as a crossroads of civilizations from the Indus Valley to the Silk Road. Influenced deeply by Islam since the 7th century, it flourished under various empires like the Achaemenids, Greeks, and Timurids, leaving enduring legacies in art, architecture, and literature. Today, remnants of these great civilizations can be seen amid the country's tumultuous modern history, marked by periods of monarchy, Soviet intervention, civil war, and Taliban rule, reflecting Afghanistan's enduring cultural heritage amidst contemporary challenges.

 Herat Citadel in Afghanistan

Citadel in Herat, Afghanistan

 Herat Citadel

 The Herat Citadel is a historic fortress located in Herat, Afghanistan. Dating back to 330 BC, it was originally built by Alexander the Great. The citadel has been restored multiple times over the centuries and now serves as a significant cultural and historical landmark in the region. Its strategic position and robust architecture reflect its importance in various historical conflicts and governance.

 Malan Bridge, Herat, Afghanistan

 Malan Bridge, Herat

 The Melan Bridge, located in Herat, Afghanistan, is an ancient structure believed to date back to the Timurid period in the 15th century. It spans the Hari River and is renowned for its historical significance and architectural design. The bridge has been an essential crossing point and a testament to the engineering skills of the time.

 Haji Piyada Mosque or  Noh Gonbad Mosque in Balkh Province of Afghanistan

Haji Piyada Mosque

The Haji Piyada Mosque, also known as Noh Gumbad Mosque, is located near Balkh in northern Afghanistan and is considered the oldest known Islamic structure in the country. Built in the 9th century, it features intricate stucco decorations and nine domes, although many have collapsed over time. The mosque's architecture reflects early Islamic influences. Conservation efforts are ongoing to preserve this ancient and important site.

 The Food

 Afghan food is a tasty mix of flavors and spices that you can find all over the country, especially from street vendors. If you're wandering around, try bolani—it's a delicious stuffed flatbread with potatoes, lentils, or greens. Another must-try is mantu, which are steamed dumplings filled with spiced meat and onions. Kabuli pulao, the national dish, is a flavorful rice dish with raisins, carrots, and lamb that's super popular in local spots. Don't miss out on the kebabs, either—they're grilled to perfection and served with naan and chutney. For dessert, grab some jalebi or sheer yakh, a creamy Afghan ice cream.

 Local food in Afghanistan from street vendor

Traditional street food in Afghanistan

Local street food in Afghanistan

Street Vendor in Afghanistan selling local fruit on a local market

Learn more about our trips to Afghanistan here.

Click here to read helpful practical information and frequently asked questions about travelling to Afghanistan. 

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