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The historical Tapa-e-Tajbeg Palace

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Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi: The Tap-e-Tajbeg Palace is one of the historical buildings built in 1795, in the era of Shah Zaman. Now it has been quietly changed in to a ruin due to civil wars in the capital in 1992. According to some historians Tajbeg is a Turkish word which means ‘the great’, while for others it is a Persian word. King Babur used to use this word. The palace may be reconstructed in the era of Darrius and Kabul kings which was destroyed in the invasion of Moghuls. The Timurids renovated it once again, but it was again destroyed in wars waged by different kingdoms. The palace rebuilt by King Babur was ruined once again.

The new palace with the old name

The Tapa-e-Tajbeg Palace was reconstructed along with other buildings including Artel Bridge and Darulaman Palace in Kabul by 22 German architectures in 1922 while keeping German princess’s palace style “Herrenhäuser” in view.

Shah Mahmoud Mahmoud, an Afghan writer, has said that Tap-e-Tajbeg palace is one of the palaces used as residency by Queen Suraya, Shah Amanullah’s spouse. Famous as “Queen Suraya’s Palace” it was constructed by King Ammanullah within two years from 1957 to 1958. It was constructed in a modern style facilitated with modern sanitation and canalizations system with clean and potable water as well as stream heating system. It was built on top of a hill named “Tajbakhsh” which means ‘kingdom giver’. The palace is two kilometers far from the famous Darulaman Palace.

But King Amanullah and his spouse Queen Suraya could not live in it for more than two years as his kingdom was collapsed by Habeebullah Khan Kalakani.

The gate of the palace was closed and the entire facilities of the palace were transferred to the kingdom palace and it was desolated for several years in the era of King Muhammad Nader Khan. Tapa-e-Tajbeg Palace was changed in to central military headquarter in the era of Muhammad Dawood Khan.

The palace became main building of the Ministry of Defense after April coup supported by the then Soviet Union.

The palace after coup of April

The former Afghan president Hafezullah Ameen used it as a president’s home in 1979. Later, it was used as military headquarter by the Russian troops from 1980 to 1989 due to strategic importance, later on  it was used by the Afghan troops after withdrawal of Russian forces. Razaq Mamoon, an Afghan historian, writes that at last Hafizullah Ameen was killed in the same palace in 1979 by Russia in an invasion as Babrak Karmal came to power with support of the Soviet Union.

Tapa-e-Tajbeg Palace saw destruction when President Dr. Najeebullah’s Defense Minister Shah Nawaz Tani bombarded it to overthrow the government in February 1989.

The palace and many other state-owned historical buildings were destroyed in the civil wars after collapse of Dr. Najeebullah’s government. The palaces which were turned into forts by different jihadi parties are still presenting a gloomy picture of war.

Now Tapa-e-Tajbeg Palace is under the control of Afghan National Army (ANA) but still needs extensive renovation. The Kabul Municipality planned to reconstruct Tap-e-Tajbeg, Darulaman, and Chehelsoton palaces—destroyed in the civil wars by different groups.

Only the first and second floors of the palace are in somehow at good condition. The gates and windows of the palace are damaged as result of firing heavy artillery and machine guns during the civil wars. The circular roads of the castle are totally destroyed. Kabul Municipality has opened an account in Pashtany Bank during an official ceremony in 2011 for reconstruction of the three historic castles, but still no steps have been taken for reconstruction of the Tap-e-Tajbeg Palace.

Former President Hamid Karzai in a message asked the investors and Afghan businessmen to donate for reconstruction of the historical palaces. Karzai donated a part of his monthly salary for reconstruction of historical palace. A number of his cabinet ministers and lawmakers, who participated in the inauguration ceremony which was aimed at attracting donations, provided some money and vowed to donate more for reconstruction of historical palaces in the future.

When Karzai was in power, Kabul Mayor, Muhammad Yonus Nawandesh, had said that he is going to reconstruct the historical palaces following directives of the Council of Ministers.

Abdul Qader Aarezo, an official of the Kabul Municipality, said that a persuasive campaign was started in order to support the project, but still only a few donated and the collected amount is insufficient to reconstruct the palaces.

He said that no practical steps could be taken to renovate the Tap-e-Tajbeg Palace as they lack funds. He added that no organization has promised to support the reconstruction projects.