By: Ahmadullah Safi
A hill located on southern part of Kabul city which has been called as Balahisar, has been constructed in ancient time for supervision and defense purposes.
One upper part of Sherdaarwaza, was in separated part of Kabul city. Since many years, signs of Koshanieds rule were discovered there who were ruling Afghanistan since the first AD century. In the 5th AD century, a fort was built there and one hundred years later a compound was built around it and its remnants are seen today on its western side from 7th to 15th AD centuries.
In the wake of Temor Lane invasion, Mongol rule was setup here.
In the early 16th century Ologh Beg the king of Kabul died and his niece Zahirduddin Babor occupied Kabul thrown by force in 1504 AD and left it to occupy India. Grandson of Babur Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar who was separated in childhood from his father Humayoun, remained in Kabul with his uncle.
When Humayoun lost the thrown of India, he advanced toward Kabul but his brother Kameran Mirza rioted against him and imprisoned innocent Akbar in Balahisar to prevent artillery fire of Humayoun.
At the end of 16th century, an Uzbek Sardar besieged Balahisar and for six months heavy fighting was going on there. All gates and walls were attacked. When Akbar made Lahore as capital of Monogol in 1585 AD simultaneously and ever since the Mongol governors were settled there.
Jehangir s/o Akbar went to Kabul for the first time in 1607 AD. He didn’t like the building of Balahisar and ordered its destruction and rebuilding. When Shah Jehan for the first time along his father went to Kabul, a garden and a beautiful palace was constructed at his order. In 1626 AD Jehangir had gone to Kabul for the last time and in that time Shah Jehan had ordered rebuilding of Balahisar walls using gypsum and there was no water supply network. On the eastern part a well was dug there as another well was used as jail.
Two years later Uzbek warlord Nazr Mohammad rioted against Mongols, attacked Kabul and Mongol Royal Army was besieged in Balahisar. Shah Jehan sent his son Orangzeb to end this riot. During his rule, Orangzeb ordered construction of certain buildings and minarets.
In 1738 AD Nader Shah Afshar advanced toward Kabul in the wake of occupation of Kandahar. Governor of Kabul had requested Delhi financial aids to pay his troops.
But this aid was not available and he went to Peshawar. After a short besiege, Nader Afshar occupied Balahisar and stayed there for a short time and later went to Peshawar and Delhi, plundered all properties of India and retuned to Kabul. During the rule of Ahmad Shah Abdali Balahisar was at the hand of Iranian troops. He occupied Kabul and waited there in Balahisar.
In 1773 AD Temor Shah Durani relocated capital from Kandahar to Kabul and in subsequent twenty years separate buildings were constructed in Balahisar.
The internal palace of Balahisar was built along his rule.
All bothers of Zaman Shah who were in Kabul were jailed there. Balahisar was divided in upper and lower sections. Zaman Shah was not here in Kabul for long time and paid no attention to Balahisar but his bother Shah Shuja paid slight attention and like his father spent summer in Kabul. In 1809 AD Shuja was removed from power and no attention was paid to this fort.
In 1826 AD Dost Mohammad Khan became ruler of Afghanistan but he didn’t live in Balahisar. One of the Britishers Alexander Barnas had written that Amir doesn’t live in Balahisar. His brother had built a building there which was the highest and was called “a European Cap” from which the landscapes around Balahisar were seen and no one was allowed to go up there because the families chamber was at the bottom.
But later in 1939 AD this building was destroyed, the upper part of Balahisar was small and more people could not live there but the lower part had a capacity of 500 people.
In 1839 Bernas returned to Kabul and in lower part of Balahisar all building which had a big garden, was given to him for his accommodation next year a Russian delegation visited Kabul and accommodate there. In 1839 the first Anglo-Afghan was out broke and British ambassador William Mc Naten who was close to Shuja, was stationed in this building. The British troops entered into Balahisar but the king was not happy and gave them another place to station.
According to a British, it was a big mistake that we left Balahisar. In 1842 Shah Shuja was besieged there and later was killed. In 1842 the British troops occupied Balahisar for a short time, destroyed the big bazaar of Kabul and in Oct 1842 exited from the palace but didn’t destroyed it.
In 1842, Amir Dost Mohammad Khan became King of Afghanistan again and ruled for 23 years.
After his death, his brothers were occupied with each other and finally in 1869 Sher Ali Khan was announced as new Amir and ruled 10 years.
During his rule, on north-eastern part of Balahisar one new palace and several residential quarters were built and were decorated with carpets and British style chairs and desks also built those for British embassy. New chambers and weapons depots were also constructed there.
In 1880 when Abdurrahman Khan become ruler of Afghanistan, he take preparations for withdrawal of British troops. The British commander wanted to destroy Balahisar but it was prevented.
On the north, a gate was established which was later called as “Lahori Gate”.
If Balahisar had a tongue, no doubt it would have narrated countless small events.
“Walls remain but mankind migrate”.