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Kolowr Va Dah Sil

Pol-e Khomri

Doshi Banow

Salang Pass (3363m)

Barfak Nilaw

Jabal Saraj



Dakow Ye Payan


Maidan Shahr

Chahar Dehi

Nimla Gardens

Wazir Shekhabad

Padkhvab-e Shaneh

Tora Bora



Gardez Ghazni

Qarah Bagh

Ramak Yaqubi Khowst Mota Khan Tani


The plains of the east are hot and dry in the summer, although Jalalabad catches a lot of humidity which can make it a sticky place from mid-June to early September, with temperatures pushing over 30°C. Win- ters are cool and fall below freezing in the mountains, with snow on the high peaks, including the wooded slopes of Nuristan.


A recently repaved highway runs from Kabul through eastern Afghanistan to Jala- labad and the Pakistan border at Torkham. There are plentiful transport connections along this corridor. Crossing the border into Pakistan is pretty straightforward – an early enough start can see you have break- fast in Kabul and dinner in Peshawar.

JALALABAD دﺎﺑ لﻼﺟ

Jalalabad, Afghanistan’s largest eastern city and the capital of Nangahar province, lies roughly equidistant between Kabul and the

Eastern Afghanistan

Pakistan border at Torkham. It sits in the lee of the Safed Koh Mountains in a fertile plain watered by the Kabul river. Compared to the capital it’s something of a green oasis, warm in winter but hot and sticky in summer. The winter climate meant that Jalalabad was a popular retreat for Afghan rulers since it was founded by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1570. The region’s historical im- portance predates Islam however. Between the 2nd and 7th centuries AD, the Gand- haran culture of the Kushans flourished in the Jalalabad valley and it was a place of pil- grimage rivalling Bamiyan. Nearby, Hadda was a hugely important complex of mon- asteries and caves used as monk’s retreats can be seen on the far side of the river when leaving Jalalabad for Kabul. Islam arrived when Mahmoud of Ghazni tore through to India in the 11th century, and much of the area’s subsequent history was tied precisely to controlling the route to the subcontinent through the Khyber Pass. Jalalabad was a British garrison during

the First Anglo-Afghan War and received the one survivor of the disastrous retreat

Thal Hangu Jand Sadda Kohat Sorobi Mehtarlam


Hadda Gerdi Torkham

Khyber Pass

Charsadda Peshawar Mardan Nowshera Gulbahar Wama Asmar Dir

Khawak Pass (3848m)

Atiti Nuristan




Shah- e Pari

Barg-e Metal Kamdesh Mirkhani

60 miles


Pashshad Totakan Bat Khela

Sakhakot Tangi

from Kabul in 1842 (see boxed text, p32 ). Just over 150 years later, the mujaheddin launched an equally disastrous attack on Jalalabad, their first attempt to capture a major city from the government after the Soviet withdrawal. Over 10,000 people died. From 1992 Jalalabad was ruled by a council of mujaheddin called the Nangahar Shura, but the predominantly Pashtun population meant that the city surrendered to the Tali- ban in 1996 without a fight. Several of the shura leaders returned to power at the close of 2001 and have been heavily implicated in the opium trade for which Nangahar is renowned. Despite this, a provincial ban in 2005 met with popular support and a 96% drop in cultivation. A failure to follow up with alternative liveli- hood programmes meant that the poppies were back in bloom the following year. Many people zip through Jalalabad when passing between Kabul and Peshawar. If you’ve come from Pakistan the city seems like a continuation of the large Pashtun towns of North West Frontier Province, down to the street food and the make of autorickshaws. The heat and humidity can make Jalalabad exhausting in summer and malaria is a serious risk. It’s also essential to take note of the political forecast, as the city sits in the heart of the Pashtun areas.


Jalalabad runs east–west along the south bank of the Kabul river, and is roughly laid out in a grid. The main junction to orien- tate yourself by is Chowk-e Mukharabat. The main road leads west from here past the Spinghar Hotel towards Kabul. The main commercial area runs south of the junction to Chowk-e Bazari and Chowk-e Talashi, from where the main road heads east to the airport and the Pakistan border. AIMS ( produces an ex- cellent downloadable map of Jalalabad.


Moneychangers, internet cafés and PCOs can all be found clustered between Chowk-e Mukharabat and Chowk-e Talashi.

ANSO East (x070 606601)

Jalalabad Public Hospital (Sarakh-e Kabul) Next to Sping- har Hotel, with plenty of pharmacies in the immediate area. Kabul Bank (near Chowk-e Talashi) Police (x079 9048 154)


A rule follows that wherever an Afghan ruler settles, he lays out a ceremonial garden. As a favoured winter residence, Jalalabad has several, in varying degrees of maintenance. Akbar’s original gardens have long been lost to urban development. The remainder lie between Chowk-e Mukharabat and the Spinghar Hotel.

The Seraj-ul Emorat Gardens (Bagh-e Seraj ul-

Emorat) are named for the palace of King Ha- bibullah (‘Building of Light’), built in the confines of the garden in 1910. The palace was reduced to a shell during the 1929 tribal uprising but the gardens remain a pleasant place for a walk. There are plenty of orange trees for which Jalalabad was once famed and the park still hosts the Mushaira Festi- val in mid-April, celebrating the blossoming of the orange trees with poetry, storytelling, music and picnics. Habibullah loved Jalalabad and, ever the moderniser, built the country’s first golf course here. When he was assassinated here in 1919, the course was turned into the grounds for his mausoleum . Built in the same weird neoclassical style of the time, it also houses the tombs of King Amanul- lah and his wife Queen Soraya, doyenne of Afghan feminism. The gardens are opposite Seraj-ul Emorat. Between Seraj-ul Emorat and the Kabul

river is the peaceful Kawkab Garden (Bagh-e Kawkab), planted with roses. A new garden, Bagh-e Abdul Haq, is also being laid out here to commemorate the mujaheddin leader Abdul Haq who was killed by the Taliban in 2001. It sits by the Pul-Behsud bridge which leads north to Kunar province. Sun- set views of the river here are lovely.


Eastern Afghanistan remains unstable. Se- curity is generally good along the Kabul– Jalalabad–Torkham highway, although ex- treme caution should be taken around the traditionally problematic Sarobi area and the approaches into Kabul. Take appropriate security precautions in and around Jalala- bad city.

We advise against travel off the main

highway, due to the large numbers or armed anti-government groups in the region.

JALALABAD •• Orientation 183



Spinghar Mountains






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