Afghanistan 2012 Day 18: Tashqurghan, Kholm, Takht-e Rostam and Samagan.

Mazar to Kabul-tt (1)

Mazar to Kabul, Dawn

We were up at 4am to start our 428 kilometre drive back to Kabul. Our new driver was young, fast and a very aggressive driver.

 

 

 

Mazar to Kabul-tt (23)

Kholm

Our first stop was Kholm (alt: Khulm, / Tashqurghan) to view the appalling remains of what was once the largest domed, ancient covered market in Asia, destroyed deliberately by the Soviets in 1986. It’s now a vacant shell of old mud walls, crumbling, revealing layers of pottery sherds incorporated into the walls to give extra strength. It’s so sad.

Takht e Rashon Stupa caves tt (1)

Takht e Rashon Stupa caves

Next stop was Takht-e Rostam at Samagan for the stupa and Buddhist caves. The 4 caves are badly damaged but we could just make out the carved lotus flowers under centuries worth of soot on the domed ceilings.

 

 

Takht e Rashon Stupa-0040

Takht e Rashon Stupa

The stupa is unique because it was carved out of the rock (similar to the Ethiopian Churches at Lalibela) and is set 28 metres below ground level.

 

 

 

 

View from Takht e Rashon Stupa tt (1)

Samagan

The top of the hill gave fantastic views over the plain towards Samagan but we couldn’t visit because it was too dangerous. Two weeks ago a roadside bomb took out several tankers, a car and a local dignitary.

 

 

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