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Kabul, BALA HISSAR, Afghanistan

Skillful wayfarerSkillful wayfarerSkillful wayfarer Zelle Acrouba
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The ancient citadel and home of some of Afghanistan’s most important kings is now off limits and extremely dangerous owing to unexploded bombs and landmines. However this magnificent building dating, it is believed, in parts from the 5th century has played a role in every twist and turn in the city’s often violent history. Bala Hissar sits to the south of the modern city centre at the tail end of the Kuh-e-Sherdarwaza Mountain. The famous Walls of Kabul, which are a staggering 20 feet high and 12 feet thick, start at the natural fortress and follow the mountain ridge in a sweeping curve down to the river. Bala Hissar was originally divided into two parts. The lower fortress where the stables, barracks and three royal palaces were contained and the upper fortress called Bala Hissar which housed the armoury and the infamous Black Pit, the dungeon of Kabul were situated. However the arrival of the British in Kabul marked the end of the citadel. From 1839 onwards the British used it on and off as their barracks until the massacre of the British Mission by mutinous Afghan troops in 1879. General Roberts was dispatched to Kabul to quell the situation and took the citadel. Shortly afterwards an explosion in the powder magazine partly destroyed upper Bala Hissar. General Roberts decided to finish the job off and ordered the destruction of the rest. Perhaps, however the last word lies with the founder of the Mogul empire, the Emperor Babur who captured the fort at the start of his conquering career and went on to write of the magnificent building: “The citadel is of surprising height, and enjoys an excellent climate, overlooking the large lake, and three meadows which present a very beautiful prospect when the plains are green.” Today the fortress is home to the 55th division of Kabul. The big green gates are adorned with photos of Karzai and Massoud. Visitors are not allowed in. More on www.kabulguide.net

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I went there in 2010, there isn't much left of the place. Its filled with trash, not much left of the walls. Most of the lower buildings are collapsed. I wanted to see the 'black pit' but didn't know where to look. There are old destroyed tanks and remnants of the russians everywhere. Didn't get to walk around the entire outside perimeter for obvious reasons.

DAP, 2010-05-23 14:34:15
I was there the other day and the mines have been removed now, however it is still not readily accessable as it is currently home to an Afghan Army training school.

Craig, 2009-03-21 11:46:47
The British contingent in Kabul was massacared in 1842, not 1879. I don't believe the Bala Hissar was ever used by the British during the first Anglo-Afghan campaign (1839-42).

Steven T, 2006-04-29 16:41:15









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