In Pictures: Newly-built Paghman palace becomes the cynosure of all eyes

Driving west of Kabul, there is a place nestled in the Hindu Kush Mountains with unparalleled beauty and heartwarming serenity. Paghman is less than 10 kilometers from Kargha Lake, one of the favorite hangout places with open air restaurants, picnic spots, playgrounds for cricket and soccer, a 9-hole golf course, boats and horses. On way from Kargha to Paghman, a newly-constructed palace grabs your attention. The palace has become cynosure of eyes in recent months.


Last year, the Afghan government decided to come up with a swanky and luxurious palace in Paghman as venue for Navroz festivities, which marks the Afghan New Year, starting March 21. The beautiful place, which was thrown open for public recently, will play host to all the major fairs and festivals in future.


According to government officials, a total of 6.5 million USD were allocated from the budget of the Ministry of Finance to construct Paghman Hill Castle. However, the construction work on the palace and its surroundings incurred more than 15 million USD.


The palace, which comprises three expansive floors, is made of marble stones and wood. The interiors are decorated with handmade carpets, reflecting the age-old tradition. The walls are fitted with close-circuit cameras for security purposes. There is greenhouse, Buzkashi field, and delightful waterfalls.


According to government officials, the palace is of great value and will be the venue for major festivals and fairs in future. The work on this ambitious project started in March last year and it was supposed to be ready as the venue for Navroz festival on March 21 this year.


Despite incurring huge expenditure, the plan to use it as the venue for grand Navroz festivities this year was scrapped at the last minute, primarily owing to security reasons. The venue was shifted to highly-fortified Presidential Palace in Kabul.


Afghanistan was the host country for Navroz this year, and distinguished guests included Presidents of Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan. In 2010, The UN General Assembly recognized Nawroz as the International Day, which is observed with great reverence in Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.


The Afghan government and Navroz Historical Festival Commission opted for Paghman as the site for Navroz palace after doing an extensive reconnaissance of many places around the Kabul city.


The Afghan government has taken many initiatives in last few years to develop Paghman as a tourist destination, renovating hotels and developing green fields.


Many locals and foreigners are flocking here to enjoy the ambience, panoramic beauty and historical ruins. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has planted more than 7,000 saplings and 1,000 different types of flowers around the Paghman palace.


The boulevard that leads to Paghman palace has been beautified with majestic trees on both sides. Experts believe the international functions in Paghman can not only generate income for locals but project the place as a preferred tourist destination.