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Afghanistan honeymoon

Years of tyranny and war have harmed the country, but Afghanistan is a fine tourist destination known for its dramatic mountain scenery and the unparalleled hospitality of its people.

The country is covered with valleys and the beautiful mountain ranges dominate the landscape of Afghanistan. Home to plentiful countryside and the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range, travelers came for the clear mountain air and to see attractions like the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan. It contains some incredible treasures of the world. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan comprises of Mazar-e Sharif and Northeastern Afghanistan is the home of the most sacred site, Samangan. It is famous for caves and shrines of Takht-e Rostam, a hidden Buddhist gem.

By Hadi Zaher (en:User:Hadi1121) (English Wikipedia) [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cities in Afghanistan

Cities in Afghanistan offer a lot of hospitality, tasty cuisine, good hiking and more. No doubt tyranny and war have harmed Afghanistan cities. Yet Afghan cities are nice places to visit. Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan, Balkh, Kandhar, Ghazni and Lashkargah are the prime cities of Afghanistan. All these cities narrate stories of the glorious past of Afghanistan.

Balkh

Balkh, small provincial town of today, was once a splendid city in Afghanistan. Mazar e Sharif is one of the oldest historical monuments in the city. The city is recognized as the birth place of Prophet Zoraster. Formerly the city thrived as Bactria in the ruling period of Alexander the Great. The city brimmed with Buddha monasteries and stupas before the disaster inflicted by the Taliban. Now the city hosts the ruins of its glorious past.

Bamiyan

Bamyan, the capital of Bamyan Province is the central town in Afghanistan. Bamiyan is renowned for the giant Buddha idols it hosted. It is one of the most picturesque areas in the region. Remains of Buddha are the foot prints of history, attracting hoards of visitors to Afghanistan.

Ghazni

Ghazni, a city close to Kabul now remains a feeble shadow of the former glory of the city. Ghazni has a long and eventful journey of wars and destruction like other cities of Afghanistan. Ghazni was the capital of Ghaznavid empire and a central location of South Asia.

Herat

Second largest city in Afghanistan, Herat is located on the banks of the Harirud river. Friday Mosque and Musalla are the primary attractions of Herat since ancient times. Herat is known for its home-based industries. The city also boasts of having a women only university.

Kabul

Kabul is the capital of the war torn country, Afghanistan. There is lot to see, although many parts are destroyed. The monuments still surviving tell us about the golden past of the city as well as the episodes of war and ravage here. People who think there is no life in Kabul should visit Kabul once and explore life in Kabul, adorned with culture.

Kandahar

Kandahar is the second largest city of Afghanistan. The city was the capital of Afghanistan before it was shifted to Kabul. The most important historical monument in the city is the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Durrani. Kandahar is not only a city of historical importance but it is an important business hub in the present Afghanistan. The charming village of Sher Surkh, Kandahar Museum, Chilzina and a small market are the other attractions in the city.

Places to Visit

Any traveler in Afghanistan has several places to explore. Here is brief account of the important places to visit in Afghanistan.

Band-e-Amir

The five lakes of Band-e Amir are a beautiful location of Afghanistan. The cluster of five lakes is collectively known as Band-e- Amir. Band-e-Amir lake is also called the lake of jewels. The Band-e-Amir lakes are formed naturally with extraordinary geological formations. The color of the water is deep blue.

By Hadi Zaher (en:User:Hadi1121) (English Wikipedia) [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kabul Museum

Once considered a valuable record of Central Asian history, Kabul Museum, also known as Afghanistan National Museum, was home to some of the finest collections in Central Asia. The Museum was built in 1920. Many objects from Kushan, early Buddhism and early Islam were hosted in the Museum. Some early manuscripts, miniatures, weapons and art objects belonging to former royal families were also kept here.

Kabul museum was one of the richest cultural repository of the world but the historical treasures of the museum were destroyed and looted by the Taliban. The upper galleries of the museum were destroyed completely. The artifacts in the museum were looted later. Looted artifacts were sold illegally in the world market at high prices. In 1994, the United Nations initiated to stop the looting by repairing the doors, and bricking up the windows. But at that time 90% of the museum artifacts were looted. The museum is being renovated with the help of foreign countries.

Khyber Pass

Khyber Pass has been an important site in Afghanistan. Khaybar has been an important link between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Throughout history it served as an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia. Most foreign invaders in India entered through Khyber Pass. Crossing Khyber Pass, one of the most important passes in history, is quite adventurous.

Minaret of Jam

The Minaret of Jam, a magnificent minar, is one of the buildings listed in the UNESCO's world heritage list. The Minaret of Jam is also called Minaret of Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad bin Sam. The Minaret of Jam is quite isolated in itself, located in a remote valley next to the Hari Rud river.

Panjshir Valley

The Panjshir has always been most people's first choice in Afghanistan. When Afghanistan was on the tourist trail Panjshir valley was one of the most visited tourist destinations. Due to its proximity to Kabul and its astonishing natural beauty, Panjshir became people's first destination in the country. It is located 150km north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush.

Tora Bora

Tora Bora, which can literally be translated as Black Dust, is a cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. The complex is found in the White Mountains locally known as Safed Koh. Tora Bora is approximately 50km west of the Khyber Pass. The US forces battled with Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Tora Bora, during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Culture of Afghanistan

The culture of Afghanistan has been influenced by many aspects. For centuries Afghanistan has been used by invaders as their gateway to India and other central Asian countries. Afghanistan has been the part of several mighty and culturally empires, which left their legacy in the region. Rich and long cultural heritage has been left in Afghanistan by Greeks, Persians and Indians.

Islam had its impact on Afghanistan culture. Islamic threads were left in the art, music, architecture and poetry of Afghanistan. Due to constant battles and wars the cultural assets of Afghanistan have blemished in recent days. Afghans are expert in embellishing their daily life articles with fine arts and calligraphy.

Buzkashi
Buzkashi is one of the ancient games played in Afghanistan. Buzkashi literally means "goat killing" and the name was derived from hunting of mountain goats by champions on horseback. The game originated from the time of Ghengis Khan, one of the rulers of medieval Afghanistan. Provinces of Maimana, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kataghan are the most popular destinations for Buzkashi. Due to religious beliefs women are not allowed to watch the game. There are mainly two types of Buzkashi played, Tudabarai & Qarajai.

Festivals
Afghans are lovers of social life with an abundance of music and festivals. An Islamic country as it is festivals in Afghanistan are of Muslim origin. Eid al Fitr (end of Ramadan) is the most important festival of Afghanistan. The whole month of Ramadan is considered as the month of sacrifice and purity. Muharram commemorates the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain. Eid al-Adha (Eid-e-Qurban) is also one of the holy days of Afghans. New year day is celebrated as Nau Roz on the first day of spring according to Afghan solar calendar. Mawlud-un Nabi and Lailat-ul Qadr are also common festivals of Afghanistan.

Food
Afghan cuisine is enriched with spices and rich aroma. Afghani cuisine is mainly influenced by that of Persia, India and Mongolia. Main ingredients are spices from India; mint, meat cookery, subzi from Persia and the noodles/ pasta from Mongolia. Afghani cuisine is flavored with garam masala, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, chilies, leeks, coriander, parsley, mint and black pepper. Pulao and Qabli puloao are famous dishes from Afghanistan. Vegetarian dishes are not so popular in Afghanistan. Due to environmental factors people take food rich in fat and protein.

Ethnic Groups
Society of Afghanistan consists of number of ethnic groups, chief of whom are Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. These ethnic groups practice different ways of living, despite collectively inhabiting in the region for hundreds of years. Their lifestyle is defined by unwritten code, and they choose their leaders, known as Begs or Khans to rule over them. Pashtuns or Pakhtuns or Pathans or Persian Afghans are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, constituting about two-fifths of the Afghan population.

Inter Ethnic Relations
Afghan ethnic groups have had complex relationships. Several groups share complicated and tense relations. Afghan governments have mostly been dominated by the Pashtuns, with members of other tribes in secondary positions. This fuels resentment in them. Often, zones of ethnic groups overlap and become cause of tensions.

Source: afghanistan.saarctourism.org

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