Ghazni (Persian: غزنى) is one of the
thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the east of the country. Its
capital is Ghazni City. The province lies on the important Kabul to Kandahar
road, and has historically functioned as an important trade center between
those two major cities. The province has pashtun majority.
Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist center before and during the 7th Century AD.
In 683 AD, Arab armies brought Islam to the area and attempted to conquer
the capital of Ghazni but the local tribes fiercely resisted. Its resistance
was so famed that Yaqub Saffari from Zaranj made an example of Ghazni when
he ranged the vast region conquering in the name of Islam. The city was
completely destroyed by the Saffarids in 869.
After the rebuilding of the city by Yaqub’s brother, it became the dazzling
capital of the Ghaznavid Empire from 994 to 1160, encompassing much of
northern India, Persia and Central Asia. Many iconoclastic campaigns were
launched from Ghazni into India. The
Ghaznavids took Islam to India and returned with fabulous riches taken from
both prince and temple god. Contemporary visitors and residents at Ghazni
write 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.
It's capital was razed in 1151 by the Ghorid Alauddin. It again flourished
but only to be permanently devastated, this time in 1221 by Genghis Khan and
his Mongol armies.
Ghazni is also 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 is that of Sultan Mahmud's.
Others include the tombs of poets and scientists, for
example Al Biruni and
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 Ghazni's capital city was stormed and
taken over by the British forces on July 23, 1839 in the Battle of Ghazni.
The Afghan Civil War and the continued conflict between the Taliban and the
Afghan Northern Alliance during the 1990s put the relics of Ghazni in
jeopardy. The Taliban placed Fazl Uddin in charge of protecting the
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
Some Sikhs and Hindus too live in Ghazni province. During the Taliban regime
they fled the country, but with the current administration they have
returned to Ghazni city.
After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, there is a
Provincial reconstruction base and a Nato forces base. These western forces
are hunting Taliban militants and al-Qaida, who are still active in the area
causing deaths to Afghan government employees and local civilian population
of the province as well.