Afghanistan – Day 2 – Herat

Thursday, 18 May 2006

I’m heading straight to Herat because I’ve got to fly there and back and don’t want to risk getting stuck at the end of the trip. All the road routes are either downright dangerous (ie via Kandahar) or difficult and possibly dangerous (ie via Mazar-i-Sharif or straight across the middle from Bamiyan via the Minaret of Jam). I’m going to Herat mainly because I want to continue on to see the Minaret of Jam.

The Kam Air flight across the country is superb. It’s a crystal clear day and the mountains, still dusted or even thickly coated with snow, look terrific. Herat’s superb too, all the things I remember from the last visit – the Masjid-i-Jami or Blue Mosque, the four magnificently askew minarets of Baiqari’s long lost madressa and the even more dangerously leaning minaret in Gowhar Shad’s Musalla Complex look better than ever.

The special surprise is the Citadel, aka The Ark, which was off limits back then and was still off limits just a year or so ago. Now this ancient fortress is spookily empty and open with amazing views across the city from its collection of towers and lookouts. It’s a fine sunset finale to a fine day in Afghanistan’s western metropolis.