are the old names for Ghazni.) is a city in central Afghanistan
, with an approximate population of 141,000 people. It is the capital of Ghazni Province
, situated on a plateau at 7,280 feet (2,219 m) above sea level. It is linked by highways with Qalat
to the south-west, Kabul
to the northeast and Gardez
to the east.
The population of Ghazni City is multicultural and multi-ethnic, with approximately 50% Tajiks (Sunni Muslims) , 25% [[Pashtuns (Sunni Muslims), 20% Hazaras (Shia Muslims), and a small number (5%) of Hindus.
Ghazni was founded sometime in antiquity
as a small market-town and is mentioned by Ptolemy
. Ghazni City was a thriving Buddhist
center before and during the 7th century AD. In 683 AD
, Arab armies
to the nearby regions.Yaqub Saffari
reigned over the vast region. After the city was rebuilt by Yaqub’s brother, it became the dazzling capital of the Ghaznavid Empire
from 994 to 1160, encompassing much of northern India
and Central Asia
. Many iconoclastic campaigns were launched from Ghazni into India, resulting in large scale destruction of ancient temples, libraries and palaces. The Ghaznavids took Islam to India and returned with fabulous riches taken from both Indian princes and temples. Contemporary visitors and residents at Ghazni wrote with wonder of the ornateness of the buildings, the great libraries, the sumptuousness of the court ceremonies and of the wealth of precious objects owned by Ghazni’s citizens.
The city was sacked in 1151 by the Ghorid Ala'uddin but then made into their secondary capital from 1173. It again flourished but only to be permanently devastated, this time in 1221 by the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by his son Ögedei Khan.
Ghazni City is famous for its minarets built on a stellar plan. They date from the middle of the twelfth century and are the surviving element of the mosque of Bahramshah. Their sides are decorated with geometric patterns. Upper sections of the minarets have been damaged or destroyed. The most important mausoleum located in Ghazni City is that of Sultan Mahmud's. Others include the Tombs of poets and scientists, for example the Tomb of Al Biruni. The only ruins in Old Ghazni retaining a semblance of architectural form are two towers, about 43 m (140 ft) high and some 365 m (1,200 ft) apart. According to inscriptions, the towers were constructed by Mahmud of Ghazni and his son.
In the 1960s a 15-meter female Buddha was discovered lying on its back and surrounded by empty pillars that once held rows of smaller male Buddhas. Parts of the female Buddha have been stolen. In the 1980s a mud brick shelter was created to protect the sculpture, but the wood supports were stolen for firewood and the shelter partially collapsed.
During the First Anglo-Afghan War, the city was stormed and taken over by the British forces on July 23, 1839 in the Battle of Ghazni. The Civil war in Afghanistan and the continued conflict between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance during the 1990s put the relics of Ghazni in jeopardy.
Ghazni’s strategic position, both economically and militarily, assured its revival, albeit without its dazzling former grandeur. Through the centuries the city figures prominently as the all important key to the possession of Kabul.
Ghazni City is located in an area of extreme drought.
Recently, one of the gates on a fifty-year-old dam on the Jikhai River
broke, bringing up concerns among the inhabitants of Ghazni city about the water supply. The dam serves as a good source of irrigation water to Ghazni City and the surrounding agricultural areas. Nearby dams have a history of flooding and causing severe damage and death. Efforts have begun to remedy this situation.
Places to see
- Minarets of Ghazni
- Palace of Sultan Mas'ud III
- Tomb of Sebuktigin
- Mausoleum of Sultan Mahmud
- Mausoleum of Sanai
- Museum of Islamic Art
- Tapa Sardar Excavations
Notables from Ghazna
References and footnotes