Thursday, October 13, 2011

Darulaman Palace

Every few weeks, I'm lucky enough to visit places in Kabul that take me past Darulaman Palace. It's about 45 minutes from the Embassy, just past the Parliament building. It was built in the early 1920s by King Amanullah Khan, and there's really no other building like it in the city. I would love to get closer to it to get better pictures, but it's set back very far from the road. I've heard rumors of various schemes to renovate the building and some even include plans to house the Parliament in the palace. However, ten years on it's still a looming hulk of steel and rubble, so I'm not holding my breath.

On all sides of the building, people go about their daily lives and largely ignore the enormous structure. All over Kabul and throughout the country, there are historical structures like this, which, if they're not still housing unexploded mines, are used by children as playgrounds or the homeless as shelters. It can be quite startling, especially if you come from an environment in which such cultural relics would be charging admission.

On the one hand, I would hope that these buildings are heading in the direction of such restoration, but I also pass by the bombed out Russian Cultural Center every week and see that such aspirations can take a drastic turn for the worse...

Even more jarring than the presence of such massive ruins is their close proximity to nomadic settlements. The only piece of this picture that has changed in the past 100 years is the slow destruction of the palace. Hmm.

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