| Kabul | Baghe Bala


The ridge now known as Baghe Bala was part of a garden laid out by the wife of the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Shah Shuja camped in the garden on his return to Kabul in 1839 under British escort. The return of Abdur Rahman in 1890 saw a temporary pavilion erected on the site on the occasion of his accession to the throne, soon after which he commissioned the construction of a palace of his own design. Drawing on central Asian forms and decorative elements, with a series of reflecting pools beside it, this became Abdur Rahman's favourite residence in Kabul and it was where he died in 1901. Having been briefly inhabited by his grandson Sardar Hayatullah while his residence (no known as Qasr-e Bobojan, see separate gallery) was being built, the palace housed a collection of royal property, including manuscripts, ceremonial clothes and arms. It was also used for diplomatic functions during the 1920s, before being converted into a military hospital. In 1928 however the palace was looted and burned by rebel forces under Habibullah Kalakani as they approached the city from the north, eventually overthrowing Amir Amanullah Khan. Restored by Nader Shah, the palace was extensively remodelled in the 1970s (and a swimming-pool added) to enable its use for official receptions. Spared major damage during the conflict of the 1990s, the palace fell into disrepair before work was carried out in 2008. Today it stands unused in the midst of a neglected and overgrown garden.


North elevation of Baghe Bala pavilion, 1922 (Richard Lowell - reproduced with permission)
Postcard of Baghe Bala, 1970s.
South elevation of pavilion at Baghe Bala, 2004.
Baghe Bala. Upper part of west elevation during removal of plaster, 2004.
Interior view of pavilion Baghe Bala, 2004.
Fireplace in pavilion Baghe Bala, 2004.
Undercroft of pavilion at Baghe Bala, 2004.
Qala e Jangi below Baghe Bala, demolished in 2007.
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