| Kabul | Baghe Padsha Bukhara


Qala-e Fotuh, or Baghe Padshah-e Bukhara, is where the ex-Amir of Bukhara Mohammad Alim Khan spent most of the last 25 years of his life in exile after fleeing his home in 1920. He was invited by Amanullah Khan to travel to Kabul, where he lived from 1921 until his death in 1944. It was from Kabul that Alim Khan tried to regain his throne from the Bolsheviks, under the watchful gaze of his Afghan hosts. For someone who had ruled a city-state renowned for its grandeur, the adjustment to life on the outskirts of Kabul must have been difficult. The pavilions that Alim Khan and his court inhabited were tiny, with most spaces able to seat only three or four people on cushions. A photograph taken by Wilhelm Rieck in 1922 shows Alim Khan seated at a wooden table in one of the pavilions that now stands in ruins the garden, http://www.darulaman.de/fotoalbum/seiten/A1_12_1_jpg.htm. The walls of the space in the photo are decorated with stenciled painted patterns that survive to this day, defaced by graffiti, as does a painted mural over one of the fireplaces, showing a lake bordered by castle-like buildings set between rugged mountains. The scene was perhaps intended to remind Alim Khan and his entourage of distant lands, while an aeroplane that flies over the landscape may have served to remind him of the possibility of a return to Bukhara. Alim Khan’s grave is at Shuhada e Saleheen (see image in separate gallery).

North elevation of Alim Khans residence, 1973 (courtesy of May Schinasi).
North elevation of Alim Khan's residence, 2006.
South elevation of Alim Khan's residence, 2006.
Interior of Alim Khan's residence showing stencilled decoration, 2006.
Detail of surround of fireplace in Alim Khan's residence, 2009.
Painted mural in interior of Alim Khan's residence, 2011.
General view of Qala Fotuh towards north, 2006.
Exterior of damaged mosque at Qala Fotuh, 2006.
Interior of damaged mosque at Qala Fotuh, 2006.
Ruined staff quarters at Qala Fotuh, 2006.
General view of landscape in Baghe Padshah-e Bukhara, 2006.
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