Bagh-e Babur (the Garden of Babur)

The great conqueror Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty, so loved Kabul and gardens that he brought the two together.

Babur was born of a line of rulers and conquerors: his father's side descended from Timur, and his mother's from Genghis Khan. In 1504, At the age of 22, he conquered Kabul. Babur often spent time in gardens and even used Bagh-e Babur to launch military campaigns, celebrate victories, hold royal audiences, dispense punishments, read poetry and entertain guests.

Babur had many reasons to love Kabul and even when he was ruling from India, thoughts of Kabul and its gardens were always with him. Kabul was the first major city that Babur acquired and kept; its climate and beauty appealed greatly to him. An inscription on his tomb says this about Kabul: "If there is a paradise on this earth, it is this, it is this, it is this."

Bagh-e Babur was constructed on the slopes of the Sher Darwaza hills. Water, inspiring images of paradise, was diverted to run above the Chardehi plain. The garden also included flowers, fruit trees and, later, fountains and buildings for various uses.

The significance and beauty of this particular garden led to Babur's request to be buried there; it also led to Charles Atkinson to capture it in his colored engraving shown here.

By the time of Atkinson's visit in 1842, some structures in the park had already fallen into disrepair. Another Charles, Charles Mason, remarked that the tombs were damaged. This damage worsened in the earthquake of 1842. Afterwards, other people began to put their own touches on the site, further changing it from the original. When war hit in 1992, much had changed, broken due to time, or was destroyed.

In March 2002, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) signed a memorandum of agreement for a rehabilitation program for Bagh-e Babur. This program's goal was to restore the garden as well as the landscape and important buildings around. Throughout the rehabilitation of the garden, it has remained open to the public.

Bagh-e Barbur is an enclosed area of more than 11 hectares. Inside lie graves, a marble mosque and a Queen's Palace, from different periods in the park's history.

The Queen's Palace (pictured) was likely the first permanent residential building in the garden when it was built in the 1890's. Over the years, it served many purposes and, in 1992, war took its effects destroying most of the structure. Reconstruction was started in 1996 with excellent results. Though new techniques were used to facilitate the restoration, as with the garden as a whole, the goal has been to restore the Palace to its original splendor and to incorporate those parts that have been salvageable. Similar efforts are being undertaken with the rest of the garden's structures.

Already a sight to behold at this point, the park when finished will be inspiring. From the lower entrance at the base of the Chardehi River, a visitor will see the garden ascend through the arched gate or the Shahjahani gateway. Rising more than 20 meters along the hillside, terraced gardens are already springing to life. Each terrace is in itself a small garden built along a central waterway that feeds pools and fountains. Each of these gardens is home to various trees and bushes recalling the gardens in the time of Babur.