Afghanistan, Land of Hospitality and Beauty
Director: see DB; Cinematographer: Sunaram Talwar
Duration: 00:27:49; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 332.703; Saturation: 0.025; Lightness: 0.346; Volume: 0.258; Cuts per Minute: 14.739; Words per Minute: 79.125
Summary: Date: no date, c. 1960
Film promoting tourism, features the Duprees playing tourists, visiting all the most famous beauty spots in Afghanistan.
Footage Source: DVCAM tape transfer, mid 2000s telecine
Translated by Rajni Prakash.
This film was made in the early 1960s (before the official launch of Afghan Films) to promote tourism to Afghanistan, and features most of the famous beauty spots and historical landmarks in the country. The narration was written and performed by the poet Suleyman Layeq, who was the Director of Information & Culture at the time, and later became the Minister of Radio and TV. In what would become the 'house style' of mixing fact and fiction, the two 'American tourists' in the film (shown visiting markets, flying on Ariana Airlines, going on picnics in Paghman, and taking photographs) are actually played by the anthropologists Louis and Nancy Dupree, who by that time were already fixtures on the Afghan scene. The little joke played by the film hinges on the fact that Louis Dupree's book 'Afghanistan' was the default reference for historians and social scientists new to the region, while Nancy Hatch Dupree's guidebook was used by most actual tourists visiting Afghanistan.
Royal Government of Afghanistan
Publication of Ministry of Media
Afghanistan: Land of Beauty and Hospitality
Sonaram Talwar was a cameraman from FTII who joined Afghan Films. A lot of the archival footage has been filmed by Talwar himself between 1968 and 1980.
Videographer: Samad Asefi, Sona Talwar
Kabul city, the capital of this beautiful country, has an ancient history and due to its geographic location, it has always remained an important and central city.
Kabul is located at various junctures in the history of Afghanistan in a very marvelous form.
In the seventh century, the kings of Afghanistan constructed these walls on adjacent mountains of Kabul in order to defend this city from foreign invaders.
On the eastern side of Kabul, on Maranjan hill, rests the eternal mausoleum of Afghanistan's son and knight, His Excellency King Nadir Shah Afghan.
People from Kabul and residents of other places of Afghanistan always visit his mausoleum to celebrate his public works and offer flowers and garlands at his mausoleum.
People of Afghanistan recognize His Excellency Nadir Shah as the founder and originator of all current movements and pay respect to his ideas.
At the crossroads of Jada e Maiwand the monument to martyrs of Maiwand was built in honour of soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the massive Battle of Maiwand in the 19th century.
I had heard lots of stories about the people, nature and handicrafts of Afghanistan and was longing to visit this beautiful country.
Afghanistan is a unique and incredible country as far as its culture, crafts and nature are concerned.
The kind and hospitable people of this country, with their very amicable behaviour, were the only reason we felt encouraged to extend the duration of our stay in this country.
Our journey to Afghanistan coincided with the season of grapes. Afghanistan is comparable to other Oriental countries for the variety, superfluity and inexpensive rate of its fruits.
The variety of grapes exceeds 60 types in this country and it is renowned as being home to the best-quality produce of apples, pears, melons and watermelons.
Bright sunlight, clean air and the abundance of fruits has bestowed a sound essence, beautiful body and healthy mind on the people of Afghanistan.
The fruits of Afghanistan have vast markets in the world. During our journey, we did not see fruits as good and as inexpensive as those of Afghanistan in any other country.
Kabul has changed its looks very quickly in the recent years. The work of construction of streets and new buildings is going on rapidly. Paved streets, tidy parks and several hotels have been constructed. Khyber Restaurant on Pashtoonistan crossroad is a grand and glorious restaurant.
A wave of change has emerged, on the streets, roads, houses and other aspects of life. People of Afghanistan are using these opportunities to implement and develop a new civilisation and rapidly advance it.
Guests and tourists from foreign countries often come to Khyber Restaurant for their meals because Khyber Restaurant is built near the famous Kabul Hotel and is linked to most important parts of the city by modern streets.
Ariana Afghan Airlines has regular and continuous flights to all airports inside Afghanistan and important international airports out of Afghanistan. These flights have been very convenient for tourists and passengers.
Aircrafts of Ariana Afghan Airlines get checked and examined as per international standards prior to every flight. The responsibility of this examination lies with very intelligent and competent experts.
Aircrafts do not have permission to take off till these professional experts do not assure the accuracy and perfect functioning of the machine. Due to this reason, Ariana Afghan Airlines has achieved a good reputation which is furthered bolstered every single day.
We flew from Kabul to Kandahar on the DC6 carrier of Ariana Afghan. The day of the flight, it was very bright. Afghanistan's space is generally full of sunshine. We wished to fly soon and see the stupendous sight of the rugged mountains of Afghanistan from a height.
Engines of aircraft whirred into action and we attained altitude in Afghanistan's cloudless sky with great speed.
The aircraft of Ariana Afghan Airlines are very well-maintained and have charming air hostesses.
There are lots of toys to entertain children and these facilities have made long-haul trips of these aircrafts very easy and helpful.
Our carrier aircraft covered the distance between Kabul to Kandahar in almost two hours.
Kandahar City is one of the centers of Pashtoons. In this city, we first visited the mausoleum of the Durani Emperor, Ahmad Shah Baba. Ahmad Shah is a famous Emperor who was recognized as the founder of present-day Afghanistan in the middle of the18th century.
Famous Chehl Zina (forty stairs)of Kandahar which were built in the era of Zahiruddin Babur are very interesting and worth a dekko.
We went to the ancient fort of Bost in Grishk. Bost is reminiscent of the golden era of Afghanistan. One thousand years ago, this city was a great cultural and historical center of Middle Asia and trained many writers and scholars.
Ghaznavi emperors made Lashkargah's big military center adjacent to Bost in the10th century A.D.
During our visit we visited those markets and shops of Grishk, where Afghanistan's old market traditions and nuances are still in circulation. People in this area have retained the buildings and customs and traditions of this area in their former manner and demonstrate their national and cultural depth with much simplicity.
Local sculptors make beautiful and delicate dishes from stones with very basic tools, which can compete with the world's advanced machine-made sculptures. It seems that everything in this nation is borne of hard work and is worth looking at.
During warm days and nights of the year, snow from the central mountains melts and makes streams, rivers and ultimately big rivers in rocky valleys.
We saw the incredibly blessed rivers of Afghanistan, that have nurtured great civilisations by their banks in the course of their history and have played a great part in the progress of civilisation.
We came to Kajaki Dam by passing the Sarkash river of Helmand. Now that rivers are controlled in Afghanistan, this mountainous country and strength of water can be fully used for construction of the country and people's life.
During our trip we visited very interesting and poetic sights of the beautiful country of Afghanistan. Small places are home to nature's beautiful masterpieces in this country.
We visited this country once, but will always have this desire to visit this country once again and renew our very fond memories of the kind people of this country.
Pashtoon Atan(Afghan traditional dance)performers in Nad Ali invited people to watch Atan. The atmosphere of noise in big industrial cities forces a person to come to these relaxing areas for his vacation and recreation in order to keep his health proper.
This Atan has a record of more than one and a half thousand years in history of Afghanistan and is a very important national and epic play for the people of Afghanistan; and this is the only play which is repeated exactly in the same manner during combat, jungle picnics and ceremonies.
Afghans do not discriminate between young and old during an Atan performance. On the contrary, grey beard and black beard, son and father, even grandfathers, dance and spin in the same field of Atan. These Atan spins particularly reach the zenith of joy when night spreads its dark skirt on the ground and loads of wood spread their blaze in the field of Atan.
We flew from Kandahar to Herat by Hosa aircraft of Ariana Afghan Airlines. One beautiful guide from the Afghanistan Tourist Department was with us. Herat is a very old and historic part of Afghanistan. This region has retained its importance in all periods of history.
Afghanistan's flat and desert areas lie in between Herat and Kandahar.
Coffee is offered with friendly chat and with pleasure.
Two hours after flying we entered Herat's green space. By seeing these inspiring areas, views of the colored film of history about the invasions of Alexander and Genghis Khan entered the screen of my mind. Herat airport is functional for flights in all seasons of the year and has all systems in place for communication and meteorology.
We came from the airport to the beautiful Park Hotel of Herat. Park is build in Herat City and has all necessary commodities for guest.
We were shown Herat's Jama Masjid which is a great masterpiece and memorial of the Timurid dynasty's architecture. This mosque is the biggest mosque of Afghanistan.
This mosque is so interesting and worth watching that if a tourist comes from the western subcontinent to Herat just to visit this mosque, he/she has not wasted the money on expenses of traveling back and forth.
People of Herat say that the Jama Mosque was built by Sultan Shahabuddin, the great conqueror of Ghorid dynasty for the first time and then reconstructed by Gouharshad, famous queen of Timurid dynasty of Herat.
This beautiful tile work is a product and masterpiece of the golden hands of Afghanistan's craftsmen.
In order to keep the beauty of these tile works forever, the government of Afghanistan has erected a permanent repair workshop of the tile industry in a corner of the crafts society.
There are 6 natural pools lying in a bowl of calcium carbonate rocks 80 kilometers from Bamiyan towards the west. These pools have turned Bamiyan into a very important region for world tourism.
The natural dams of Bamiyan lie in the lap of beautiful and colorful hills; as per their natural location, they are stacked on one another like the staircase of a building. Lots of tourists have agreed that Bamiyan region is a distinguished place among world's very important regions.
We went to Paghman hill garden as well. Because of its beauty and location, Paghman hill is known as a unique garden in the entire eastern area. Paghman is located 25 kilometers west of Kabul in the ample surrounding of high mountains.
In the natural masterpiece of Paghman hill, human hands cannot orchestrate these masterpieces. Flowers bloom overpoweringly in summer days and nights and their fragrance overwhelm the garden and its surroundings.
I have never seen such a leisurely, beautiful and heartwarming place in all my trips to various countries of the world.
During the picnic in Paghman, my friends asked me about my cap. I told them that when I went for a tour in suburbs of Afghanistan; I got this cap from Khulm in the north of Afghanistan and then wore it on my head during my entire journey.
I gave lots of information about the handicrafts and cap stitching of Khulm to friends and stated interesting parts of my travel adventures to the northern parts of Afghanistan. Women in this region are practically helping men in life's struggles and women of these regions sew these beautiful silky caps and send them to markets.
Shopkeepers of this area display compassionate behaviour towards buyers. Moreover, they have good conduct and show love towards foreign guests and tourists. In fact, hospitality is an ancient and national tradition of these people and is safely ingrained at a high ethical level.
Later on, my friends' attention was drawn towards the carpet that I had brought with me from Shiberghan. Here I gave information to friends about the carpet weaving industry of Shiberghan.
Shiberghan is located between Mazar and Maimana in the north of Afghanistan. Women of Shiberghan are famous all over Afghanistan for weaving carpets. These carpets are made of the wool of Afghanistan and have lots of buyers in Europe and the western world and every year, many carpets are exported from Shiberghan.
The magical hands of these craftspeople keep the name of this beautiful country of Afghanistan alive in the world's important trade centres, and every year, foreign currency worth millions flows into the country. These craftspeople believe that despite the progress of machine-made industry they can retain their supremacy and excellence in craft forever.
I spoke with my picnic companions about the historical building which was built in the ninth century by the dynasty of the Sultan of Timurid Hussain Mirza of Herat in the eastern part of Balkh, on the mausoleum of Hazrat Ali - a great personality in Islam.
This great building which is a masterpiece of Afghanistan's tile work has been a shrine for Muslims since hundreds of years. This style of tile work on the building is reminiscent of the work on buildings which were constructed during around the 16th century in Herat and Kandahar.
This is an area around a great mosque and shrine and thousands of people pray here every day. My visit to Mazar coincided with a 40 day traditional spring festival.
Luckily, my trip days to Mazar coincided with the trip of His Excellency King Mohammad Zahir Shah. King of Afghanistan, who came to the same mosque to pray namaz along with thousands of people.
I also went to the very ancient and famous city of Balkh and its historical places. This city is located in Jaihoon River's southern flat region. Due to its antiquity, eastern historians call this city "Umm Al-Belaad" i.e. mother of cities of the world. In the past this city was a universal centre of knowledge and wisdom and business at various times, but in the course of history, this city fell into ruin and was destroyed.
Whenever the blazing atmosphere of big cities and a machine-driven civilization leaves me tired, due to the monotony and the torpor of that kind of environment, I think about coming to peaceful and incredible Afghanistan; my ears are filled with the sounds of caravans and horses.