By: Karima Malikzada
Samangan is one of historic provinces located along the 5,000 historic Silk Road in the north part of Afghanistan. In the province, Takht-e-Rustam (Haibak), literal meaning the throne of Rustam, named after Rustam, a king in Persian mythology, is a hilltop settlement. It is dated to the 4th and 5th centuries of the Kushano-Sassanian period, which is corroborated by archaeological, architectural and numismatic evidence, but unfortunately this historic site has been destroyed due to rain and snowfalls. Currently, steps have been taken to renovate this historic site.
According to provincial director of information and culture for Samangan Aziz Rahman Qatra, the stone-made stupa of Takht-e-Rustam is located in 2KM of Aibak, the provincial capital of Samangan, and considered as one of the rarest historic monuments in the country and world. It is said this historic monument was built almost 2,500 years ago during Kushano period, but its current condition is not good and has ruined due to rainfalls and natural causes.
In an interview with The Kabul Times correspondent, Qatra said fortunately work on renovation of the stone-made stupa has been started by the ministry of information and culture. In a ceremony held on the occasion of Cultural Week, deputy minister of culture and art for information and culture opened the renovation work for the stupa.
“Based on the project, a wall with 4,600m length and 3m height will be constructed and completed in 18 months,” Qatra said, adding that by completion of the wall this historic monument will be further protected.
In addition to construction of the wall, a room for distribution of ticket to tourists and guard room will be constructed within the respective stupa.
According to provincial director of information and culture, nearly 38 million AFG has been allocated for the project and will be provided by the ministry of information and culture.
Pointing to Takht-e-Rostam, provincial director of information and culture for Samangan said inside of the mountain foothill, there are eight caves similar to stupa and corridor with different sizes have been trimmed and the site was known as the palace of Tahmina, daughter of Samangan’s king. Her wedding ceremony was held there and married to Rustam, the king.
Qatra said that hundreds of tourists paid visit to the historic site every year particularly during the spring season and Nawroz festival, adding that residents of Samangan in particular Aibak city held Nawroz festival in there.
It is worth mentioning that Takht-e-Rustam is the location of a stupa-monastery complex which is fully carved into the mountain rock. The monastery of the major Buddhist tradition of Theravada Buddhism, has five chambers, two are sanctuaries and one is a domed ceiling with an intricate lotus leaf beautification.
In the adjacent hill is the stupa, which has a harmika, with several caves at its base. Above one of the caves, there is square building with two conference halls, one is 22 metres square and the other is circular. In one of these caves, Archaeological excavations have revealed a cache of Ghaznavid coins.