1902 Encyclopedia > Cabul (Kabul) (city), Afghanistan

Cabul (city), Afghanistan

CABUL, or KIBUL, in modern days the capital of AFGHANISTAN (q. v.) The city stands on the right bank of the river called after it, on the fork made by the junction of the Loghar River, where the productive plain, which extends north to the foot of Hindu Kush, narrows rapidly into the gorges from which the streams issue. The city stands in 34° 30i' N. lat., 69° 6' E. long., at an altitude of 6396 feet above the sea.

Cabul is about 3 miles in circuit; it was formerly walled, but now is not so. The mountains surround it pretty closely except where the plain opens to the N.E. It is triangular in form, the Bala-Hissar or Acropolis, in which the Amir resides, forming the S.E. angle, and rising about 150 feet above the plain. The old wall had seven gates, of which two alone remain, viz., the Lahori and the Sirdar.

The city is divided into six mahalas or quarters, and these again into huchas or sections, which are enclosed and have gates. In tumult these enclosures form small separate fortresses. The streets hardly merit the name, and nowhere could admit wheel carriages; they are narrow passages, frightfully dirty after rain. The houses are of sun-dried brick and wood, seldom more than two stories in height. There are no public buildings of any moment; some mosques are spacious, but none have any magnificence. There are thirteen or fourteen sarais for foreign traders, but they bear no comparison with those of Persia. The public baths lack cleanliness, and the odour of the filth which is used as fuel is most offensive. The greatest ornament of the city was the arcaded and roofed bazaar called Chihdr Chdta, ascribed to Ah Mardan Khan, a noble of the 17th century, who has left behind him many monuments of his munificent public spirit both in Cabul and in Hindustan. Its four arms had an aggregate length of about 600 feet, with a breadth of 30. The display of goods was remark-able, and in the evening it was illuminated. This edifice was destroyed by Sir G. Pollock on evacuating Cabul, as a memento of the treachery of the city. The several crafts, such as saddlers, drapers, braziers, armourers, congregate together, as is usual in the East and to some extent in the south of Europe. Itinerant traders also parade the bazaars, each with his peculiar cry. The old-clothesman of London is represented by the Moghul of Cabul, with his cry of " Old bullion, old clothes!"

Including the Bala Hissar, Cabul contains about 9000 houses, giving a probable population of 50,000 to 60,000. In summer the population is more dense. Without the limits of the old city to the westward is the fortified quarter of Chandol, once a detached village, now a large suburb occupied by the Kizilbashes (see AFGHANISTAN), and con-taining 1500 to 2000 houses. It has independent bazaars, baths, mosques, &c.

The river of Cabul is traditionally said to have several times flooded or swept away the city. There is but one bridge within the city limits, but there are others above and below in the vicinity. The city is well supplied with water, chiefly by canals drawn from the two rivers, and the streets are frequently intersected by covered aqueducts. There are also many wells, water being found at moderate depth throughout the valley.

Though there is some malarious influence in autumn from the marshy ground north of the city, Cabul is on the whole healthy. In addition to good water it has at most seasons a fine atmosphere, and an excellent supply of food. The children are chubby and ruddy. Vast supplies of fruit of fine quality are brought into the markets from the gardens of the Koh-daman and adjoining valleys. And the shops for the sale of fruit, fresh and dried, are a notable feature in the bazaars.

Cemeteries are numerous in the vicinity, including places of Jewish and common burial. One of the graveyards near the shrine called Shah Shahid contains a tomb bearing in Roman characters the following inscription :—" Here lyes the body of Joseph Hicks, the son of Thomas Hicks and Edith, who departed this lyfe the eleventh of October 1666." An annual day in spring is appropriated to visiting the tombs, as in continental Europe. The graves are sprinkled, garlands placed, and small repairs executed.

Many sacred shrines are interspersed among the cemeteries and gardens. The gardens are often on acclivities, formed into terraces, supplied with springs, and abounding in song-birds. Both shrines and gardens are greatly resorted to by the Cabulis, who are passionately fond of this kind of recreation. Most of the roads are bordered by running waters, and shadowed by mulberry, willow, or poplar trees. The tomb of the illustrious Sultan Baber stands about a mile to the west of the city in a singularly charming spot, on a slope spreading before the sun. The grave is marked by two erect slabs of white marble. Near him lie several of his wives and children ; the garden has been formerly enclosed by a marble wall; a clear stream waters the flower-beds. From the hill that rises behind the tomb there is a noble prospect of his beloved city, and of the all-fruitful plain stretching to the north of it.

The geographical position of Cabul, in a tolerably open country intervening between the passes which lead to India on the one side, and those which lead to Turkestan on the other, is highly favourable to trade. Baber exalts the importance of its traffic in his day, saying that the products of Khorasan, Bum (Turkey), Babylonia, and China were all to be found there. People in easy circumstances are numerous. The presence of a court and a considerable military force contributes to the bustle of the place, and imparts animation to many trades. But the people do not excel in any handicraft or manufacture.

Cabul is believed to be the Ortospanum or Ortospana of the geographies of Alexander's march, a name conjectured to be a corruption of Urddhasthdna, " high place." But the actual name is perhaps also found as that of a people in this position (Ptolemy's Kabolitce), if not in the name of a city apparently identical with Ortospana, Carura, in some copies read Cabura. It was invaded by the Arabs as early as the thirty-fifth year of the Hegira, but it was long before the Mahometans effected any lasting settlement. In the early Mahometan histories and geographies we find (according to a favourite Arabic love of jingle) Kabul and Zabul constantly associated. Zabul appears to have been the country about Ghazni. Cabul first became a capital when Baber made himself master of it in 1504, and here he reigned for fifteen years before his invasion of Hindustan. In modem times it became a capital again, under Thnur Shah (see AFGHANISTAN), and so has continued both to the end of the Durrani dynasty, and under the Barakzais, who now reign. (H. Y.)

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Kabul (province), Afghanistan

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