This article has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainl y for its historical value.
The central and most important province of Afghanistan, bounded on the north by Afghan-Turkistan, on the east by the district of Jalalabad, and on the south and west by the pro- vinces of Kandahar and Herat. The general elevation is probably not less than 7,000 feet, while a considerable portion of the province con- sists of a region of lofty mountains. It is crossed in the north by the Hindu Kush. The Band-i-Baba and the Paghman form a great water- shed in its centre, dividing the upper reaches of the Kabul, Helmand, and Hari Rud rivers. The lofty highlands of the Hazarajat form its south-western districts, and in the south and south-east are the uplands of Ghazni.
The northern districts of the province are Kohistan, Panjshir, Bamian, Saighan, and Nijrao. These are peopled by Kohistanis and Tajiks, while in Bamian Hazaras are also numerous. Its western and south- western districts are those of the Hazarajat, including the country of the Besud, the Deh Zangi, and the Deh Kundi tribes of Hazaras. In the south and south-east lie Ghazni, Gardesh, Khost, and Logar.
The predominant inhabitants of these districts are Ghilzais and other Afghan tribes, but Hazaras and Tajiks are also to be found. The winters are extremely rigorous; but the spring, summer, and autumn are, with the exception of July and August, quite European in character.
There are numerous evidences of Persian, Greek, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muhammadan antiquities in the Province. The Surkh Minar, near Kabul city, is no doubt a copy of the capitals of Persepolitan pillars, while Greek influence is evident in the Buddhist monasteries and stupas found along the Kabul valley. The valley is also rich in Graeco-Bactrian coins. In the Koh-i-Daman, north of Kabul, are the sites of several ancient cities, the greatest of which, called Beghram, has furnished thousands of coins, and has been supposed to represent Alexander's Nicaea. Investigations at Jalalabad during the late Afghan campaign resulted in the recovery of many interesting sculptures in stone, slate, and plaster.
Among the most remarkable relics of a bygone age are the colossal figures carved in the cliff at Bamian, north of the Koh-i-Baba, and the adjoining caves. The largest of these figures is 180 feet high. Authorities differ as to their origin, but it seems most probable that they are Buddhist. The surrounding caves answer to the requirements of a Buddhist monastery, and close to the foot of the cliff is a mound resembling a Buddhist stupa, the exploration of which may some day put the question at rest. For history, trade, and industries see Afghanistan and Kabul City.