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Kandahĝr (31.658°N 65.65°E), also spelled Qandahĝr, is the second largest city in Afghanistan after Kabul, the capital and has a population of 324,800 (2006 estimate). It is the capital of Kandahar province; it's one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the southern part of the country next to Pakistan at about 1,005 m (3,297 feet) above sea level. The Arghandab River runs right next to the city.

Hamid Karzai, the 12th President of Afghanistan is an ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai tribe. He was born in the village of Karz, which is located on the edge of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

The province contains about 18 districts, over 1,000 villages, and approximately 1,151,100 people, which is mostly tribal and a rural society. The main inhabitants of Kandahar province are the native ethnic Pashtuns, although smaller communities of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Baloch]are also found in parts of the city of Kandahar.

Wali Kandhari, Pir in Hassan Abdal

In anger, Wali Kandahari throws a rock towards the Guru
Main article: Baba Wali Kandhari

Baba Wali Kandhari was a Sufi saint or pir who is believed to have been born in about 1476 in Kandahar in Afghanistan. In about 1498 he moved to Hasan Abdal near present-day Rawalpindi in Pakistan. This town is about fifty kilometres from Rawalpindi to the west side of the mountains. A very hilly area, in some places natural fountains or springs flow from the ground.

On a nearby hill, at an altitude of 714 meters, Wali Kandhari settled and built a small house near a natural fountain. The water here was very clear and so the town people used to come to fetch drinking water from this fountain. There was no other source of fresh drinking water nearby. The water from the fountain then progressed down the hill to the small town. Kandhari would preach to the simple people who came there. Soon he had enlarged his house into a small community building or "dera".

Baba Wali's shrine

The shrine of Baba Wali, its terraces shaded by pomegranate groves beside the Arghandab River, is also very popular for picnics and afternoon outings.

Sitting on the banks of the Arghandab River is the Baba Wali Shrine, also known as Baba Sahib by Kandaharis. Gul Agha Sherzai, the twice-former Governor of Kandahar, fierce warlord and former Mujahideen commander constructed the shrine at a cost of millions of dollars to honour one of his revered tribesmen.

It provides a great view to the verdant Arghandab Valley, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the dusty province. The multi-level shrine, marble and mirror-clad, set into a hillside is a popular picnic place for the Kandaharis, with kebabs, hand made ice cream and local fruit juices available from cart vendors.

Ancient history

Many empires have long fought over the city, due to its strategic location along the trade routes of Southern and Central Asia. In 1748, Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Durrani Empire, made Kandahar the capital of Afghanistan.

It is believed that Kandahar may have derived from the Pashto pronunciation of Alexandria, or Iskanderiya.[3] A temple to the deified Alexander as well as an inscription in Greek and Aramaic by the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who lived a few decades later, have been discovered in the old citadel.

See also

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