It might come as a surprise to most of us, but in the 1970s Afghanistan was a booming destination for tourism. Three decades of incessant war in Afghanistan has completely destroyed the tourism industry. With high security risks, even domestic tourism is almost negligible. But there are idyllic spots in Afghanistan that provide a great opportunity for sightseeing and adventure like the Panjshir Valley.
Extremely picturesque, Panjshir Valley lies 150 kms. to the North-East of Kabul. The place is a serene haunt and provides great views of the valley and the mountains. The Panjshir river runs right through the valley till the Hindukush mountains. The views are breathtaking along the journey. Locals are extremely friendly even to foreigners. And a good local guide can really enhance your stay and travel here.
Panjshir means “5 lions” that refers to 5 brothers who dammed a river almost miraculously in the 10th century AD. This idyllic valley became a symbol of Afghan resistance to the Soviets during war in Afghanistan in the 80s. The lion of Panjshir, Ahmed Shah Massoud, who defeated the Russians repeatedly forcing them to call for a ceasefire during the peak of the war, was born here. The relics of that war still litter the highway in the form of tanks, destroyed artillery, weapons, and armored vehicles all along the road. Sultan Ahmed Massoud is a symbol of courage and Afghan defiance not only in Panjshir but all of Afghanistan. His tomb is a huge tourist destination for those visiting Panjshir. He was killed by Al Qaeda in September 2001 after valiantly fighting for Afghan pride for 2 decades first against the Soviets and later the Taliban.
Panjshir is among the most beautiful valleys in Afghanistan. Panjshir river takes a lovely undulating course in the mountains. It traces its way to snow-capped mountains that offer some breathtaking views all along the way. The valley has fields of maize and wheat along with groves of walnut and mulberry. The river is rich in fish. When it is filled with water, the Panjshir river has some great rapids that has the potential of being built into a huge tourist attraction with water sports and water activities. The Road which is over 100 km. long is a very important highway and has been one all through history.
Though the amenities are still very basic, if more hotels come up, Panjshir can be promoted as a tourist spot for both domestic and international travelers. It is a long way from reclaiming its importance but Panjshir is surely looking forward to playing host again to many travelers. Do watch the interesting video above that gives a first-hand account of the visit to Panjshir Valley.
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