|— City —|
|- Mayor||Ghulam Haidar Hamidi|
|Elevation||1,000 m (3,281 ft)|
|Central Statistics Office of Afghanistan|
|Time zone||Afghanistan Standard Time (UTC+4:30)|
Kandahār or Qandahār (Pashto/Persian: کندهار or قندهار) (Greek: Alexandria Arachosia) is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 450,000. It is the capital of Kandahar province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m (3,297 feet) above sea level. The Arghandab River runs along the west of the city. "Kandahar" is the latest modified form of the ancient name Gandhara.
Kandahar is a major trading center for sheep, wool, cotton, silk, felt, food grains, fresh and dried fruit, and tobacco. The region produces fine fruits, especially pomegranates and grapes, and the city has plants for canning, drying, and packing fruit. Kandahar has an international airport and extensive road links with Farah and Herat to the west, Ghazni and Kabul to the northeast, Tarin Kowt to the north, and Quetta in Pakistan to the south.
Many empires have long fought over the city, due to its strategic location along the trade routes of Southern and Central Asia. In 1748, Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Afghan Empire, made Kandahar the capital of Afghanistan. From 1996 to 2001, Kandahar served as the capital of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Since 2002, the city is slowly being rebuilt while it deals with the Taliban insurgency at the same time.
Bilingual Edict of Ashoka (in Greek and Aramaic), found in Kandahar. Circa 250 BC.
It is believed that Kandahar may have derived from Alexandria (Iskandriya in various local languages). A temple to the deified Alexander as well as an inscription in Greek and Aramaic by the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who lived a few decades later, have been discovered in Kandahar.
An alternative etymology derives the name of the city from Gandhara, the name of an ancient Hindu kingdom from the Vedic period and its capital city located between the Hindukush and Sulaiman Mountains (basically identical to the modern extend of the Pashtun-inhabited territories in Pakistan and Afghanistan), although Kandahar in modern times and the ancient Gandhara are not geographically identical.
Another compelling etymology offered is that the word "kand" or "qand" in Persian and Pashto (the local languages) means "sugarcandy" and "har" means necklace. The name of the city (قند هار/Qandahar) means "sugar-necklace". And the ancient word- Gandh derived from Gandhar also means a sweet nice smell. This probably has to do with the city being known for producing fine grapes, pomegranates, apricots, melons and other sweet fruits.
Another etymology derives the name of the city as combination of two PIE words, even used in Indo-Pakistan now by nomadic Bagga and Sansi tribes, kand = wall and har = mountain or stone leading to understand a city made of stones or fortress with stone wall.
Yet another etymology derives the name of the city from the name of the Indo-Parthian King Gondophares: he founded it under the name Gundopharron.
History of Kandahar
History of Kandahar
Ariana · Khorasan,
Prehistory of Kandahar,
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree, the University of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution, and others suggest that the region around Kandahar is one of the oldest human settlements known so far.
...Early peasant farming villages came into existence in Afghanistan ca. 5000 B.C., or 7000 years ago. Deh Morasi Ghundai, the first prehistoric site to be excavated in Afghanistan, lies 27 km (17 mi.) southwest of Kandahar (Dupree, 1951). Another Bronze Age village mound site with multiroomed mud-brick buildings dating from the same period sits nearby at Said Qala (J. Shaffer, 1970). Second millennium B.C. Bronze Age pottery, copper and bronze horse trappings and stone seals were found in the lowermost levels in the nearby cave called Shamshir Ghar (Dupree, 1950). In the Seistan, southwest of these Kandahar sites, two teams of American archaeologists discovered sites relating to the 2nd millennium B.C. (G. Dales, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1969, 1971; W, Trousdale, Smithsonian Institution, 1971 – 76). Stylistically the finds from Deh Morasi and Said Qala tie in with those of pre-Indus Valley sites and with those of comparable age on the Iranian Plateau and in Central Asia, indicating cultural contacts during this very early age...
—Nancy H. Dupree, 1971
Alexandria in Arachosia
The ancient Arachosia and the Pactyan people during the Achaemenid Empire in 500 B.C.
Kandahar was founded in 330 BC by Alexander the Great, near the site of the ancient city of Mundigak (established around 3000 BC). Previously, the city was the provincial capital of Arachosia and was ruled by the Achaemenid Empire. The main inhabitants of Arachosia were the Pactyans, an ancient Iranian tribe, who may be among the ancestors of today's Pashtuns. Kandahar was named Alexandria, a popular name given to many cities that Alexander found during his conquests.
The city has been a frequent target for conquest because of its strategic location in Southern Asia, controlling the main trade route linking the Indian subcontinent with the Middle East, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. It later became part of the Indian Mauryan Empire under Chandragupta Maurya, after the departure of Alexander. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka erected a pillar there with a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic. The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom occupied Kandahar after the Mauryans, but then lost the city to the Indo-Scythians,.
Islamic conquest in Kandahar,
Further information: Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
In the 7th century AD, Arab armies conquered the region with the new religion of Islam but were unable to succeed in fully converting the population. In 870 AD, Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, a local ruler of the Saffarid dynasty conquered Kandahar and the rest of the nearby regions in the name of Islam.
...Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam came out of the west to defeat the Sasanians in 642 AD and then they marched with confidence to the east. On the western periphery of the Afghan area the princes of Herat and Seistan gave way to rule by Arab governors but in the east, in the mountains, cities submitted only to rise in revolt and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed. The harshness and avariciousness of Arab rule produced such unrest, however, that once the waning power of the Caliphate became apparent, native rulers once again established themselves independent. Among these the Saffarids of Seistan shone briefly in the Afghan area. The fanatic founder of this dynasty, the coppersmith’s apprentice Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, came forth from his capital at Zaranj in 870 AD and marched through Bost, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul, Bamiyan, Balkh and Herat, conquering in the name of Islam.
—Nancy H. Dupree, 1971
Kandahar (Candahar) during the Safavid dynasty and Mughal period
It is believed that the Zunbil dynasty, who were related to the Shahi dynasty of Kabul, were probably the rulers of the Kandahar region from the 7th century until the late 9th century AD.
The Zunbils ruled in the Kandahar area for nearly 250 years until the late 9th century AD.
Kandahar was taken by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century followed by the Ghurids of Ghor, and in the 13th century it was invaded by Genghis Khan and his Mongol armies. It became part of the Timurid Empire from the 14th century to the 15th century, which was founded by Timur (Tamerlane). Pir Muhammad, a grandson of Tamerlane, held the seat of government in Kandahar from about 1383 until his death in 1407. Following Pir Mohammad's death, the city was ruled by other Timurids. In the late 15th century Kandahar was entrusted to the Arghuns, who eventually achieved independence from the Timurids.
Tamerlane's descendant, Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, annexed Kandahar in the 16th century. Babur's son, Humayun, lost it to the Shah of Persia. Humayun's son, Akbar, regained control of Kandahar but by the early 18th century subsequent Mughal emperors lost the territory once again to the Persian Safavids.
Further information: Hotaki dynasty and Durrani Empire
Mirwais Hotak, a local Afghan (Pashtun) from the Ghilzai clan, revolted and killed Gurgin Khan, the Georgian governor who ruled in the name of the Safavid Persians. Mirwais then defeated a subsequent expedition by Gurgin's nephew, Kay Khusraw, and successfully resisted attempts by the Persian government to convert the local people from Sunni to the Shia version of Islam. Mirwais remained in power until his death in 1715 and was succeeded by his son, Mir Mahmud Hotaki.
Ahmad Shah Durrani being crowned as Emir of Afghanistan in October 1747.
In 1722, Mir Mahmud led an army of Afghans to Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid Persia and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Hotaki dynasty was eventually removed from power by a new ruler, Nader Shah Afshar, who invaded Kandahar in 1738 and destroyed the last stronghold of the Ghilzais. Expelling the surviving inhabitant, Nader Shah built a new town west of the ancient city, naming it after himself, "Naderabad". Today, this part of the city is called Topekhana and where the city's Persian residents can be found. Nader Shah's rule ended in June 1747, after being murdered by the Persians.
Ahmad Shah Durrani, an ethnic Pashtun and chief of the Abdali tribe, gained control of Kandahar and made it the capital of his new Afghan Empire in October 1747. Previously, Ahmad Shah served as a military commander and personal bodyguard of Nader Shah Afshar. His empire included present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, northeastern Iran, and the Punjab region of India. In October 1772, Ahmad Shah retired in Kandahar and died later from a natural cause. The (now) "Old City" was laid out by Ahmad Shah and is dominated by his mausoleum, which is adjacent to the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed on a main road in the center of the city. Between 1773-76, his eldest son Timur Shah Durrani transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul, where the Durrani legacy continued.
Courtyard of Kandahar's governor in 1881.
On 28th Muharram 1242 Hijri (September 2, 1826) Syed Ahmad Shaheed's forces reached Kandahar en route to Peshawar. Their purpose was to wage jihad against the Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh and aid their fellow Pashtuns and co-religionist in Pakistan. Within a few days more than 400 Kandharians presented themselves for the jihad, out of whom 270 were selected. Sayed Deen Muhammad Kandharai was appointed their leader.
British and Indian forces from British India occupied the city in 1839, during the first Anglo-Afghan war. They were forced to withdraw approximately three years later, in 1842. The British and Indian forces returned in 1878 during the second Anglo-Afghan war. They emerged from the city in July 1880 to confront Ayub Khan, but were heavily defeated at the Battle of Maiwand. They were again forced to withdraw a few years later, despite winning a battle near the city (see Battle of Kandahar). Kandahar remained peaceful for the next 100 years.
In the 1960s, Kandahar International Airport was built, with the help of the United States Agency for International Development, 10 miles (16 kilometers) south-east of the city. It was used by the Red Army during their ten-year occupation of the country. As of 2001, the airport is used by the US and NATO forces as a military base.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989), Kandahar was under Soviet command and witnessed heavy fighting. Soviet troops surrounded the city, and subjected it to a heavy artillery and air bombardment in which many civilians lost their lives. After the Soviet withdrawal and the fall of Najibullah's government in 1992, Kandahar fell into the hands of a local mujahideen commander, Gul Agha Sherzai.
In August 1994 the Taliban captured Kandahar and soon after the city was turned into their capital. In one incident the Taliban rescued a boy from two commanders who were fighting over him and after freeing him the people decided to support them. In December 1999, a hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 plane by Pakistani militants loyal to Harkat-ul-Mujahideen landed at Kandahar Airport and kept the passengers hostage as part of a demand to release 3 Pakistani militants held in Indian custody. The demand was met while Rupin Katyal was killed by the terrorists.
U.S. Army troops pass by the starting point of the Army Ten-Miler run at Kandahar Airfield on October 4, 2009. More than 900 runners from 14 coalition forces participated in the run.
In October 2001, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United States Navy began hitting targets inside the city by precision-guided cruise missiles that were fired from the Persian Gulf. These targets were the airport and buildings that were occupied by the Taliban, including Arab families who had arrived several years earlier and were residing in the area. About a month later, Taliban began surrendering to a private militia that had been formed by Gul Agha Sherzai and Hamid Karzai. Kandahar once again fell into the hands of Sherzai, who had control over the area before the rise of the Taliban, and was credited with permitting the same corruption that first fueled the growth of the Taliban. Sherzai was transferred in 2003 and replaced by Yousef Pashtun until Asadullah Khalid took the post in 2005. The current Governor of the province is Tooryalai Wesa.
Tribal and religious leaders gather following a shura held by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Afghan National Police are in control of the basic law and order situation in the city. The military of Afghanistan, supported by US-NATO forces, has gradually expanded its authority and presence throughout most of the country. The 205th Corps of the Afghan National Army has a base at Kandahar and provides military assistance to the south of the country. The Canadian Forces maintain their military command headquarters at Kandahar, heading the Regional Command South of the NATO led International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar Province. The Taliban also have spies inside the city reporting on events.
In recent years the Canadian and U.S. forces are rushing to quickly expand the Afghan police force for the prevention of a Taliban comeback in Kandahar, the militants' "spiritual birthplace" and a strategic key to ward off the Taliban insurgency, as a part of a larger effort that also aimed to deliver services such as electricity and clean drinking water that the Taliban could not provide — encouraging support for the government in a city that was once the Taliban's headquarters. In Spring 2010, the province and the city of Kandahar became a target of American operations following Operation Moshtarak in the neighbouring Helmand province. In March 2010, U.S. and NATO commanders released details of plans for the biggest offensive of the war against the Taliban insurgency.
On 22 May 2010 Kandahar Air Field became subject of a combined rocket and ground attack by the Taliban, following similar attacks on Kabul and Bagram in the preceding weeks. Although this attack did not lead to many casualties on the side of the Coalition Forces, it did show that the Taliban are still capable of launching multiple, coordinated operations in Afghanistan. On 13 June 2010, a shura was held by Afghan President Hamid Karzai with tribal and religious leaders of the Kandahar region. The meeting highlighted the need for support of NATO-led forces in order to stabilize parts of the province,.
Climate of Kandahar,
|Climate data for Kandahar|
|Average high °C (°F)||12|
|Average low °C (°F)||-1|
|Precipitation cm (inches)||7.9|
Kandahar has an arid, continental climate characterized by little precipitation and high variation between summer and winter temperatures. Summers start in mid-May, last until late-September, and are extremely dry. They peak in July with average temperatures of around 38oC (100oF). They are followed by a dry autumn from early-October to late-November with average temperatures sliding from 18oC (64oF) to 9C (48oF).
Winter starts in December and sees most of the precipitation in the form of rain. Temperatures average around 5-8oC (42 - 46oF), although lows can drop well below freezing. They end in early-March and are followed by a pleasant spring till late-April with temperatures in the 15oC (60oF) range,.
Highway 1 (Afghanistan)
Street leading to the Kabul-Kandahar Highway
Kandahar International Airport has been used by the NATO forces to deliver troops and humanitarian supplies since late 2001. Repairs and upgrades also occurred during that period; the airport re-opened for civilian use in late 2006.
Commuters of the city use the public bus system (Milli Bus), and yellow taxicabs are common. Private vehicle use is increasing, partially due to road and highway improvements. Large dealerships are importing cars from Dubai, UAE.
Kandahar is connected to Kabul by the Kabul-Kandahar Highway and to Herat by the Kandahar-Herat Highway. There is a bus station located at the start of the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, where a number of private buses are available to take people to most major cities of the country. Kandahar is also connected by road to Quetta in neighboring Pakistan. Due to the ongoing war the route to Kabul has become increasingly dangerous as insurgent attacks on convoys and destruction of bridges make it an unreliable link between the two cities,.
Education in Kandahar,
The computer class at Kandahar University.
The city has public schools in every district for both males and females. However, many conservative parents do not allow females in their family to get high school or higher education. There are at least 2 universities, one is Ahmad Shah Lycée and the other is Kandahar University,.
Communications in Kandahar,
Telecommunication services in the city are provided by InstaTelecom, Afghan Wireless, Roshan, Etisalat and Areeba mobile companies. In November 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a US 64.5 million dollar agreement with a company (ZTE Corporation) for the establishment of a countrywide fiber optical cable network. This will improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services not just in Kandahar but throughout the country.
Besides foreign channels, Afghanistan's local television channels include:
Ariana Afghanistan TV
Recent developments of Kandahar,
The model plan of a 20,000 home development project called Kandahar Valley.
Due to almost 30 years of destruction and no development, Kandahar (along with the rest of the country) is going through a nationwide reconstruction period. As of 2002, large amounts of money have been pouring in for construction purposes. New modern-style buildings are slowly replacing the older ones. Kandahar's major highways were repaired and completed including the highway to Kabul. However, work on smaller roads in some parts around the city is still in progress.
Kandahar's residents have access to clean drinking water and 24 hour electricity. Although not every part of the city may receive it, plans and works are underway to extend these services to every home.
Up to 20,000 single-family homes and associated infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer systems, and community buildings, including schools, are under construction on empty land in Kandahar.
About 6 miles (10 km) east of Kandahar, a huge industrial park is under construction with modern facilities. The park will have professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons.
A railroad track from the Pakistani town of Chaman to Kandahar is planned for the future. The feasibility study was completed in or about early 2006, allowing for the next step to lay-down the rail track. The work on the rail track will take approximately 2 years to complete.
Places of interest
The tomb of Ahmad Shah Durrani is located in the city center, which also houses Durrani's brass helmet and other personal items. In front of Durrani's mausoleums is the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed, containing one of the most valued relics in the Islamic world, which was given by the Emir of Bokhara (Murad Beg) to Ahmad Shah Durrani. The Sacred Cloak is kept locked away, taken out only at times of great crisis. Mullah Omar took it out in November 1996 and displayed it to a crowd of ulema of religious scholars to have himself declared Amir al-Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful). Prior to that it was taken out when the city was struck by a cholera epidemic in the 1930s.
Ruins of old Kandahar Citadel that was destroyed by the Persian army in 1738.
The village of Sher Surkh is located southeast of the city, in the suburbs of the old city of Nadirabad. Kandahar Museum is located at the western end of the third block of buildings lining the main road east of Eidgah Durwaza (gate). It has many paintings by the now famous Ghiyassuddin, painted while he was a young teacher in Kandahar. He is acknowledged among Afghanistan’s leading artists.
Just to the north of the city, off its northeast corner at the end of buria (matting) bazaar, there is a shrine dedicated to a saint who lived in Kandahar more than 300 years ago. The grave of Hazratji Baba, 23 feet (7.0 m) long to signify his greatness, but otherwise covered solely by rock chips, is undecorated save for tall pennants at its head. A monument to Islamic martyrs stands in the center of Kandahar’s main square, called Da Shahidanu Chawk, which was built in the 1940s.
The Chilzina is a rock-cut chamber above the plain at the end of the rugged chain of mountains forming the western defence of Kandahar’s Old City. Forty steps, about, lead to the chamber which is guarded by two chained lions, defaced, and inscribed with an account of Moghul conquest. The rugged cliffs from which the Chilzina was hewn form the natural western bastion of the Old City of Kandahar which was destroyed in 1738 by Nadir Shah Afshar of Persia.
A short distance from Chilzina, going west on the main highway, a bright blue dome appears on the right. This is the mausoleum of Mir Wais Khan, the Ghilzai chieftain who declared Kandahar’s independence from the Persians in 1709. The shrine of Baba Wali, its terraces shaded by pomegranate groves beside the Arghandab River, is also very popular for picnics and afternoon outings.
Night view of Kandahar International Airport in 2007.
The Shrine of Baba Wali at Arghandab Valley, on the outskirt of the city.
Branch of Azizi Bank in the city
Kandahar International Airport
Kandahar Valley (under construction)
Shāri Noe (New City), alternately Shahre Naw or Shar-i-Nau
Mirwais Mina, alternately Mena
Zoar Shār (Old City)
Baba Saab (picnic area & weekend spot)
Bāghi Pull (picnic area & weekend spot)
Chilzina View (Moghul Emperor Babur's inscription site)
Mosques and Shrines
Friday Mosque or Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed
Jama-e Mubārak or Mosque of the Hair of the Prophet
Shrine of Baba Wali
Mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Durrani
Mausoleum of Mirwais Khan Hotak
Shkar Pur Bazaar
Afghan National Army Regional Hospital
The population of Kandahar numbers approximately 468,200. Pashtuns form the overwhelming majority of the city, comprising ca. 70%. Tajiks are the second largest group, comprising ca. 20% of the population. Hazaras, Baluchs, and Uzbeks form sizable minorities.
Notable people from Kandahar
Mirwais Khan Hotak
Mir Mahmud Hotaki
Hamid Karzai, from Karz
Gul Agha Sherzai
Said Tayeb Jawad
Dost Mohammad Khan
Dupree, Nancy Hatch (1977) [1st Edition: 1970]. An Historical Guide to Afghanistan (2nd Edition, Revised and Enlarged ed.). Afghan Tourist Organization.
Hill, John E. 2004. The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu. Draft annotated English translation.
Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation.
Thapar, Romila (1963): Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas. Oxford University Press. 3rd impression, New Delhi, 1980.
Frye, Richard N. (1963). The Heritage of Persia. World Publishing company, Cleveland, Ohio. Mentor Book edition, 1966.
Toynbee, Arnold J. (1961). Between Oxus and Jumna. London. Oxford University Press.
Vogelsang, W. (1985). "Early historical Arachosia in South-east Afghanistan; Meeting-place between East and West." Iranica antiqua, 20 (1985), pp. 55–99.
Wood, Michael (1997). In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23192-9