Mausoleum of Nadir Shah


King Nadir Shah was assassinated in 1933, the time-honoured way that most Afghan leaders meet their fate. His monumental tomb sits overlooking east Kabul at Teppe Maranjan. It has suffered considerably in war.

The mausoleum is of imposing black marble, with monumental columns topped by a huge metal dome. Even if the facings weren't cracked and the dome punctured, the building gives the distinct impression that this was a man who would rather have been feared than loved. The plinth in the centre of the mausoleum is symbolic; the royal graves are in a locked chamber beneath the building (you can look through the gate). The most recent addition is that of the wife of Zahir Shah, who died shortly before she could return from exile after the fall of the Taliban.

Smashed steps lead downhill past more graves to the tomb of Sultan Mohammed Telai, Nadir Shah's great-great grandfather. Its arches are decorated in Italianate stucco, but the tomb itself is badly damaged and graffitied. The strategic location of the hill is readily apparent from here, and was much fought over in the 1990s.

Teppe Maranjan is thought to be the oldest continually inhabited part of Kabul, with excavations revealing coins and statuary from the Kushan period in the 4th century AD. One statue from this period, of Bodhisattva in meditation, is on display in the Kabul Museum, clearly showing the fusion of Greek and Indian artistic traditions. Smashed by the Taliban, its restoration is a small triumph.

Kite-flying is a popular pursuit at Teppe Maranjan, which is the location for a large kite festival at Nauroz.