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Afghanistan

GHAZNI (GHAZNA)

  • Ghazni enters the history books in 683 AD with the Arab invasions. The armies of Cyrus and Darius in the 6th century BC and that of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC passed through Ghazni.

  • The Ghazni area became part of the Kushan Empire (1st-2nd century AD) until its weakness favored the emergence of petty states throughout Afghanistan. One of these was known as Zabulistan in the 6th century, included the area of Ghazni. Excavations by Italian archeologists have revealed a fairly well preserved Buddhist Stupa at Tapa-i-Sardar.

  • In the middle of the 7th century, the Chinese pilgrim Hsuen-Tsung, speaks of visiting Ho-his-na (gha or kha-zi-ne) which can easily be identified with Ghazni. He tells of the existence of several hundred monasteries with a thousand priests and some ten stupas built by Ashoka Raja.

  • Ghazni emerged as the capital of an empire bearing its name, which reached its peak under Sultan Mahmood the Great (990-1130) who by his conquests carried Islam from Ghazni to India. His mausoleum can be visited in Ghazni.

  • In 1151 AD, the Ghorid King Alauddin (from Ghor in central Afghanistan) burned the city to the ground and was followed by Chengiz (Gengis) Khan's destruction of the city in 1221 AD.

  • Little is to be seen in Ghazni today except two road side minarets from the 12th century, now only a portion of their original height, which still stand as proud and beautiful markers of the ancient city. Excavations have also uncovered the Palace of Sultan Masud III (1099-1114) with fine marble facade.

  • The 15th century witnessed a gradual recovery of the south from the devastation of the Mongols, and the city experienced a cultural renaissance during the Timurid period, of whose architecture the Mausoleum of Sultan Abudul Razaq, now restored and turned into a museum is a magnificent example.

  • As a major strategic defense post for the capital at Kabul, 90 miles away, Ghazni figured prominently in the Anglo-Afghan wars of the 19th century. Even today the remarkable walls of its citadel can be seen on a high hill which completely dominates the valley. Ghazni also has shopping specialties in its bazzars of nomad jewelry and postinchas (sheep skin coats).