Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Darulaman Palace

Last Saturday I visited Darulaman Palace, or the King’s Palace, which sits on a rise about 10 miles outside of Kabul.

It was built in 1923 by the reformist king, Amir Amanullah Khan, who reigned from 1919 to 1929.

After leading his country in a successful ' political maneuver' which led to independence from Britain, he tried to institute many social and political changes, including discouraging the veiling and seclusion of women, and introducing secular education for boys and girls. He also adopted the solar calendar, created a court system, did away with subsidies and privileges for tribal chiefs and the royal family, reorganized the entire tax system, and introduced the Afghani as the unit of currency.

Unfortunately his reforms were contrary to conservative Islam, particularly with regard to removing the veil and the opening of co-educational schools. The clergy aligned themselves with tribal leaders whose power he had undermined through his efforts to modernize the administrative and political system and create a strong central government.

Amanullah Khan was overthrown in 1929. The new king, Nader Khan (proclaimed in 1930) proceeded to abolish the reforms instituted by his predecessor and women returned to the veil. (Habibi, A. H., Afghanistan: An abridged history, Fenestra Books, 2003)

The palace was gutted by fire in 1969, but restored and subsequently it housed the Kabul Museum and then the Defense Ministry. It was set on fire during the Soviet coup in 1978 and then further destroyed when warring Afghan factions fought for control of Kabul in the 1990’s.

Today parts of the standing building are used by NATO forces.
The original Palace (courtesy of Spach)

And today.

A hardy succulent

A dead succulent, but curious.

Safe....from what?

No passage.

View from the hilltop

Remnants of the gardens Gardens now grazing grounds for sheep.

The Taj Beg or Queen’s Palace stands on a hill behind the Darulaman Palace. It, too, has been destroyed.


  1. Penny -- All of this is quite unbelievable...and barely underway...I'm reading your blog to Steve...Great photos...I'm taking some excerpts to share with the reunion-ites this weekend...We will raise our glasses to you (We also share that fondness for alcohol!) :-) Judy M.