The gardener in the palace ruin

If there was flourishing tourism in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, the „Darul-Aman“ palace would be the place to go for tourists. But the king’s palace in Kabul’s centre is a heap of rubbles. Around the place you won’t meet many tourists. But we from Conflictfood ended up exactly in this destroyed ruin. We encounter the aged Mohammed Kabil, the former gardener of this palace. There is no more royal garden, but Mohammed gardened for decades with passion between the ruined walls. We talk to him about the past and future of the palace:

“i have seen king amanullah khan plan and build this western style palace and gardens in the 1920s. the king thanked me twice for my work in his garden, that’s my best memory”

The palace was later used as the Ministry of Defense. Mohammed took care of the vegetable garden, which fed the soldiers residing there.

Even today, the older man puts his heart and soul in the care of a wide variety of plants and flowers. He plants the seeds of the wildest and most colorful flowers into the dry soil, irrigates the earth, and looks after their growth with watchful eye. This creates an impressive and at the same time surreal picture: blooming flowers between dilapidated and battered walls.

Historically, at this point actually splendid should arise. In the days of Ammanullah Kahn, king of Afghanistan from 1926-1929, “Darul Aman” should also become the future home of the Afghan parliament and the representative center of a modern, independent and progressive Afghanistan.

However, these bold plans soon came to an abrupt end when King Kahn resigned from the political scene. Instead, the palace is today a symbol of a land in ruins. For decades it was the scene of battles, fire and bombardment. The palace burned out in 1969, after the communist takeover in 1978, it was once again in flames. Throughout the years several rival groups vandalized the complex entirely.

The Afghan government has already raised more than 20 million euros for its reconstruction through fundraising in recent years and is planning a museum, a park and a parliament building, among other things. In time for the 100th anniversary of Afghan independence, the building and park will be reopened in August 2019. This is probably also the dream of the keen gardener:

“it is my dearest desire to see the palace rebuilt, to walk through the gardens of the palace and admire the green surroundings- the fruits of my work”

Video showing recent restaurations on “Darul Aman” palace

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