By Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi: Historical monuments and artifacts depict cultural background of a nation, that’s why countries allocate sufficient amount for the preservation of historical sites.
However, on one hand the Afghan government lacks the resources need and on the other hand interest as well. No doubt in the past 13 years work has been done in this regard but compared to the number of heritage sites it was nothing. As the new government is focused on political issues the sites are no more on the attention-lens. There are just options available for the concerned authorities—to roll up sleeves and rehabilitate the ancient sites or let the cultural riches become a myth.
Kunduz is another province in the list which is going to loss almost all the historical sites. Historical importance of Kunduz province is undeniable. It is one of the most ancient and historical provinces of Afghanistan which evolved with passage of time. In past Kunduz was known as Apaska and Kuhandiz. Kunduz has also immense geo-strategic importance. It was used as military base by Alexander during 330 (BC). After attacking Bessus he announced himself as king of Apaska, current day Kunduz. During the reign of the Hephthalites in 2000 B.C. it was the capital of Takharistan. Kunduz served as vital trade route linking south to the north. Indicating historical importance of Kunduz city, Ferdosi Tosi mentioned the city five times in Shahnamah.
The city was destroyed and rebuilt in different times. Being part of Bakhtar it enjoyed important position, especially being at crossroad of the historical Silk Route.
At least 19 small and big ancient sites have been registered in Kunduz including Bala Hisar, Kalla Minaret, Chehl Dokhtaran, Haji Shaheed Masque Saqibai Maque, Ziarat Khaja Mash had, Rouza-e-Imam Sahib, MehrNegar Castle in Imam Sahib District, Tapa-e- Mutasil Doura-e-Kundu, Tepa Jarzar, pilgrimage of Hazrat Sultan Baba, Tepa-e-Zhobin in Ali Ali Abad District, Magas Tepa, Kohna Qala-e-Khan Abad and Qala-e-Zal.
These sites are now at the mercy of time as the government has turned a blind eye to these historical places which were once symbol of pride and glory. Land grabbers are posing serious threats in this connection.
Officials in the Ministry of Information and Culture confirm that monuments in Kunduz are on the verge of extinction.
Most of the 19 historical monuments in Kunduz were usurped by the influential groups while the security agencies did not took any step or cooperated with the cultural directorate when asked for support, said Chief of Information and Culture Department.
Shir Ali Qasemi told Afghanistan Times that most of the historical sites were turned into residential houses by the influential people and ordinary citizens who were living under open sky.
“The police department did not properly cooperate with the information and culture department for protection of the monuments despite sending 13 official letters to them. We lack the special police force in the province which is responsible for protection of the historical monuments. Only one policeman was appointed for protection of historical places who cannot resist or prevent the powerful people from grabbing the lands on which these heritages stand,” he lamented.
Director of the maintenance and protection department for monuments in Kunduz, Shah Khesraw Safi, said the well-known Bala Hisaar fort is in the crosshair of land usurpers. The ditch around Bala Hisaar was filled with garbage by locals.
The fort is surrounded by houses, shops, oil stations, which are built against the master plan. Police is powerless against the mafias who are threatening the heritage. Another factor is involvement of police force in the war against militants.
Other important monuments such as Sar-e-Dawra near the city had also been usurped, he said.
The government has renovated only the Imam Sahib Shrine at a total cost of Afs23 million. Khwaja Mashhad Shrine which was partly ruined and Saqi-Baiee and Haji Shaheed mosques were protected by the citizens.
Najeebullah Siddiqi, the former director of monuments maintenance department said that citizens were also among the grabbers as they had no houses while the powerful figures use the usurped lands for commercial purposes.
Following is the list of historical monuments in Kunduz.
Kohna-e-Qala (old castle)/ Bala Hisaar Kunduz: According to Tabari history book, Bala Hisaar was built 3,500 years ago by one of the Persian Kings who was the descendents of Faraidoon. The castle has four gates, two small and big fences and located in a big ditch of water, which has been surrounded by walls. The Kunduz Bala Hisaar covers 87 acres area, located 3 kilometers to the north of the city. There are different stories concerning it. Bala Hisaar Kunduz was rebuilt in the reign of Sultan HussainBaiqra by Amir Khisrawshah governor and was appointed as the center of Takharistan.
In the reign of Amir Shir Ali Khan and Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, Bala Hisaar Kunduz was ruled by Miran Uzbaki such as Sultan Murad Khan, Amir Ataligh Beg and Amir Shah Murad Khan. Miranrule was up to Ghazi Amanullah Khan reign and then collapsed and Kunduz was changed into a separate governor ruling area with its center transferred to Khanabad.
In the reign of Khisrow, the king of Ariana, the present Balkh and many others such as Sawaran Bokhdi, Khanadan Royen Tananan, Shah Maqatel Kunduzi and Khazan family ruled over BalaHisaar and was set on fire by militants of Genhgiz in the 7thcentury.
Tapa (hill) and Ziarat Chehl dokhtaran: Theshrine is located one kilometer to the southeast of KallaMimar. Agriculturallandsandhouses are situated to the north and residential houses to thesouthwhile QalarTepais located to theWest. The monument has cultural value.
Tapa (hill) Zir Daura/Buzkashi square: The hill located five kilometers to the southeast of Kunduz where Buzkashi Square located in the middle of the Tapa.
Tapa (hill) Zhobin Ali Abad: The historical area is nearly located at a 30 kilometers distance to the southwest of Kunduz Center and Baghlan River.
Kohana-e-Qala Khan Abad: The historical castle is located nearly five kilometers to the northeast of the district and covered 1.50 acres land. The Kohna Qala or the old castle dating back to Bakhtariera.
Tapa (hill) Jergzar, Gul Tapa, Tapa Much and Magas Tapa:It is also among the ancient sites but there is no information about its history and there many historical tapa (hills) in Chahar Dara district.
Qala-e- Zal and its historical tapa (hills):It is located nearly 45 kilometers to the southwest of Imam Sahib District.
Bala Hisaar and Kohna Qala in the Imam Sahib District: Located 500 meters far from the center, it presents the Alexander or Bakhtariera.
Saha-e- Robat (Robat Area): The area is located at a distance of half a kilometer from Imam Sahib District, which covers nearly 2.50 acres land and surrounded by residential houses.
Rouza and Imam Sahib Mosque: According to a survey conducted by a technical team of historical monument directorate, Rouza-e-Imam Sahib covers more than 15 acres of land.
It is said when Islam came to Afghanistan, Muslims started fighting with the then government and Hazrat Yahya, the head of military of the Muslims was killed. Then the Muslims decided to take the head of Hazrat Yahya to Baghdad but the person, who was taking the head, was killed by enemies in the District of Imam Sahib. When the Muslim came to the area, they buried the head and body in the area. Since then, a ceremony (Janda Bala) takes places in the area every year.