India helps Afghanistan Renovate Kabul's Bala Hissar Fort

This is the second project where India has helped renovate Afghanistans heritage precincts through the Aga Khan Development Network
 Bala Hissar Fort on Afghan banknotes from 2002
Bala Hissar Fort on Afghan banknotes from 2002

India has pitched in with financial support for the renovation of Kabul&rsquos Bala Hissar Fort, which is said to date back to the fifth or sixth century and has seen many wars.

The memorandum of understanding regarding the project titled &lsquoConsolidation and Conservation of Heritage Remains at the Bala Hissar, Kabul&rsquo, was signed recently between Indian Ambassador Vinay Kumar and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Diplomatic Representative for Afghanistan in the presence of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, according to media reports.

Forts played a crucial role in the governance of Afghanistan and owing to its location on a hillock commanding a view of the surrounding areas, Bala Hissar of Kabul was considered a key fort of the region. 

Writes Brigadier CW Woodburn in a monograph titled &lsquoThe Bala Hissar of Kabul &ndash Revealing a Fortress Palace in Afghanistan&rsquo (part of a series of Professional Papers published by the Institution of Royal Engineers, UK), &ldquoFortified from perhaps the 6th century, the fortress reached its peak under Mughal rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its palace was rebuilt by an Afghan king in the late 18th century and British troops were stationed in the fort during each of the 19th century Anglo-Afghan wars. After 1880, the upper Bala Hissar was used as an arsenal and prison the lower part became a ruin, within which new military installations were later built. The site was extensively damaged during fighting in the 1990s but it remains in military use.&rdquo

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During the signing of the MoU, President Ghani said that the pride that one associates with such historical structures can be conveyed to the future generations by renovating and preserving the structures, according to local media reports.

Earlier, India had helped Afghanistan to restore the 19th century Stor Palace (also known as the Qasre Storay) through the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).

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