Shaker Kargar meets with Hashmatullah Ghafouri, Deputy Minister of Irrigation, Water and Natural Resources
History of the Arg
Arg (Presidential Palace) has long been the residence-place to the kings and presidents of Afghanistan. Currently, the President & his family lives in the Arg.
The Office of President and the Office of First Lady are also located in these palaces, and the President runs the country's affairs from it.
The Office of Chief of Staff to the President, National Security Council and other offices which relates to the Office of President are also located in the Arg. Also, the important meetings of government like, Cabinet Meetings, High Councils and High Commissions are held in the Arg. Consultative Gathering & President Meetings with local & foreign elders and receiving the foreign guests are take place in the Arg too. Meantime, the important national occasions are also celebrated in the palaces of Arg along with the national & international events & conferences.
Now, in the time of National Unity Government (NUG) the number of visitors become more than before, and various people are able to meet with the President.
Arg has the memories of special celebration allied to, Independence, Women, Selection of Kings, and Marriage of the member of King Family, Poetry Party, Scientific Seminars and the Oaths of Presidents.
Arg is the residence and ruling the administration of the country by the president. It is located in the central part of Kabul city.The Arg area is surrounded by Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan, Ariana Square, Ministry of Defense, Murad Khani, Deh Afghanan, Public Library, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sepidar Palace.
The base for Arg construction was started by Amir Abdul Rahman Khan in the year 1300 AH in the area of two hundred acres of land. At the time, there was no buildings & markets around it, but agricultural land and gardens were visible. The decision of Abdur Rahman Khan for building Arg for Kings’ residence & governance a raised after the British destroyed Bala Hissar (High Fort), which was the center for the kingdom sof Afghanistan.
The general supervision of Arg construction was giving to Prince Habibullah Khan and the Arg construction took nearly 30 years’ time, it is construction started during the government of Amir Habibullah and continued till Ghazi Amanullah.
Koti Baghcha, is the first palace which built in the Arg castle in the year 1304 AH, subsequently the rest of Palaces and buildings such as, Haram Sara, Samt-i-Juma or Palace No. 10, Gul Khana Palace, Dulgushah Palace, Salaam Khana Palace, Palace No.1, Palace No. 2, Elhaqia, Chahar Chinar Palace, Sangi Palace, Story Palace, Zainulemarat Palace, Administrative Building, Archive Building, Building of King’s Office, Haram Sara the King’s family resident, rooms for Arg’s Staff, Royal Treasury for keeping cash and expensive assets, Weapon Cache, Place for Guards, Royal jail, Kitchen, Food Warehouse and the rest of building can be named as Palaces which build in the Arg castle.
A big National Archive was also built during the time of Ghazi Amanullah Khan, which was unique in its time. Ghazi Amanullah Khan has giving lots of efforts on the appearance and beautification of Arg’s palaces, during his time, the palaces get furnished and art-pictures were hung out on the walls of the Palaces. Also, seeding & flowers were planted for the greenery and the electricity of Arg was connected from Jabal Saraj (district of Parwan Province).
Existence of several towers in the Arg have added beauty to the Arg. The famous of theses towers are; Flag Tower, Clock Tower, Memorial Tower of the 26 Martyr of Second Anglo-Afghan War and the four Towers of Arg.
It is worth mentioning, by the past of time, some of the buildings and palaces are separated from Arg, so it caused some changes for the geographical area of Arg, such as the National Archive replaced to the Nak Bagh Palace and later on the Zainullemarat palace become the Office of Chancellery and now it called with this name. Currently, there are about 20 palaces and buildings in the Arg and they have more than 280 rooms.
Construction Style of Arg
Most of the Arg’s palaces and buildings are made with the Central Asian Architecture Design and some with the Hindi & British Architecture Design are likewise visible. However, the idea of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan can be seen in most of the buildings too.
In post Amanullah Khan wars & conflicts, sever damages were brought to the Arg, even some of the buildings get fired and some destroyed. In this period some of the Arg’s accessories were lost and some of the historical & art works were damaged. These battles destroyed the Arg’s beauty, but with the coming of Mohammad Zahir Shah’s kingdom, it was a new start for Arg promotion. So, Arg reconstructed and got its beauty back. Further, a new library was made and flowers & seeding were planted. Also, a building in the north side of the Arg was constructed for use of Chaidar Bashi (a waiter who serves tea), Aabdar Bashi ( a waiter who serves water), Jai Namaz Bashi ( a waiter who manage the praying place), warehouse, warehouse keeper, & the rest of staffs.
During Mohammad Dawood Khan’s presidency, some rooms were built at the Dulgushah Palace for the living of his family and his brother Naeim Khan. At this period some parts of the Arg was repaired and painted but no visible changes was brought.
Parts of the Arg was bombarded during April 1357 HA coup and the Clock Tower & other parts of the Arg’s palaces were damaged. During the Noor Mohammad Taraki’s reign, the damage which was brought at time of coup was reconstructed and the process of building Palace No. 2 was started. At the time of Afizullah Amin no works took place, but only those damages repaired which was brought at battle of August 1358 HA, and his office replaced to the Tajbek hill of Darullaman. After him, Dr. Najibullah runs the county’s affairs from the Office of Administrative Affairs and only some diplomatic meetings was conducted in the Gul Khana Palace of Arg.
Due to April 1371 HA war, some parts of the Arg’s buildings were damaged and the Arg library destroyed. Also, at the time of Talaban Regime most of the Arg’s picture was destroyed. A carpet in which the picture of birds was painted on it and was hung out on the stairs of Haram Sara was sprayed color and also the two marble statue of lions were also broken by them.
At the end of Talaban regime, the Arg was a castle of without soul, that in which no sign of governance was visible. But, since 2001 till now, it was the progress age for Arg in the area of construction. The four towers are rebuild based on previous design. The Dulgushah palace, south & north parts of Salaam Khana palace, Sangi palace and the south and north buildings of Flag-Gate are reconstructed and the Koti Baghcha also painted according to its first-time.
Besides the reconstruction of palaces, the Char Chinar Palace along with an administrative building is also built in the Arg castle. On other hand, there was a yellow building on the north part of the general gate of Arg which replaced with a new building. Meantime, a Protocol ground and a standardized kitchen are also built inside the Arg. Also, the damaged walls of the Arg castle repaired and the walls around the Arg are built too, and also, the entrance gate of Arg repaired.
With the, coming of NUG, the processes of reconstruction & making of new buildings are continued. The work progress of Archive completed in the year 1396 HA and the documents of Arg Archive brought to this building. During this period the reconstruction of roads, walls around Arg castle, gates, green environment, Dulgushah Mosque, Cafeteria for staffs are take place. For beauty of Arg & specially commemorating of national & international occasion and greetings of guests the new flag-pillars are installed at the protocol-ground, way of Ariana Square, Entrance gate of Arg, Infont of Salaam Khana Palace, at the area of Char China Palace and at the area of Office of First Lady.