Sun, Aug

The kings’ castle for the Afghan people


Just like a magic palaces, the castle's white walls are reflected in a shimmering pool and is surrounded by a garden of fruit trees.

Jahan Noma An old man stands on the roof of the castle and looks around: He can see clear vistas of Khulm district from this place; that's why people in the area call the castle "Jahan Noma," or "Mirror of the World."

The garden and castle of Jahan Noma was established in 1880 decade by Afghan ruler  Amir Abdur-Rahman. The building has big halls, rooms, bathrooms, stores, observation bridges and even a swimming pool. The main building has two floors and an impressive dome over its main hall.

Generally, the construction style of the building shows a construction system of the era, which is typical of the period it was built and reminiscent of the much older Ghaznavid style. The garden has 74 acres wide and 20 gardeners worked there in the past.

Jahan Noma castle

Agha Mohammad, the 65-year-old gardener of the Jahan Noma castle, has spent most of his life in the garden. His brother, father and grandfather have been responsible for the garden for three generations. He enthusiastically recounts his castle memories, such as when he met the last king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah, and the first president of the country, Mohammad Daud Khan.

"This beautiful palace is our fathers' heritage. We have the responsibility to protect it for our future generations to help them know the history of their country." Agha Mohammad said.

The garden and the castle of Jahan Noma are used as a public park. The place became a military base and damaged during conflict with the Soviet Union and during the civil war. Fortunately, after restoring stability in the area, the Afghan Government and international community started to reconstruct the castle.

Since then, the walls have been reconstructed, according to the head of Balkh Province Information and Culture Department, Saleh Mohammad Khaleeq. Now Afghan engineers and laborers are hard at work reconstructing other parts of the building, with the help of funding from the Dutch government.

The castle and other historic places, as well as a stable security situation in the province has boosted the tourism industry, Mr. Khaleeq says.
"The garden and castle of Jahan Noma have attracted lots of tourists as an example of real Afghan architecture. This helps to develop tourism and to introduce Afghan culture and civilization to the world," he adds.

Balkh cultural officials also announced that after finishing the reconstruction of the castle in 2012, they will use the Jahan Noma Castle as a national cultural museum. 

While Agha Mohammad points out the beauties of the Jahan Noma castle, he confirms that the reconstruction did not cause any damage or alter the castle's past glory. For him, this castle is more than a place. It's a part of his and Afghanistan's national identity. In his words: "The Jahan Noma Castle makes Afghans to love their country and to be proud of it."