Kandahar History

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Kandahar history, the city is derived from Gandharah, which is the name of an ancient kingdom (Mahajanapada), located in northern Pakistan, Kashmir and eastern part of Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the (Potohar) plateau and in some part of Kabul. The main cities were (Purushapura) modern Peshawar, which literally means City of Man and (Takshashila) modern Taxila of Pakistan.

The history of the region shows that the Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BC to the 11th century AD. It reached its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Buddhist, Turki, Shahi Kings. The Hindu Shahi, a term used by history writer Al-Biruni to refer to the ruling Hindu dynasty that took over from the Turki Shahi and ruled the region during the period prior to Muslim conquests of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Later on after it was conquered by Mahmood of Ghazni in AD 1021, the name Gandhara disappeared.

As Kandahar history indicates, the city was found in 330 BC by Alexander the Great, near the site of the ancient city of Mundigak (established around 3000 BC). Previously, the city was the provincial capital of Arachosia and it was ruled by the Achaemenid Empire. The main inhabitants of Arachosia were the Pactyans, an ancient Iranian tribe. The city was named Alexandria, a popular name given to the cities that Alexander was found during his conquests.

The city has been a frequent target for conquest because of its strategic location in Southern Asia, controlling the main trade route linking the Indian subcontinent with the Middle East, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. Then later it became part of the Mauarids (Mawaryan) Empire under Chandragupta Mawarya basically after the departure of Alexander. The Mawaryan emperor Ashoka stood a pillar there with a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic.


In the recorded Kandahar history books says that the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom occupied the city after the Mawaryans, but then they lost the city to the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Mirwais Khan Hotak, a local Afghan (Pashtun) from the Ghilzai clan, revolted and killed Gurgin Khan, the Georgian governor who ruled in the name of the Persian Shah. Then Mirwais Khan defeated a subsequent expedition by Gurgin's nephew Khusraw and successfully resisted attempts by the Persian government to convert the local people from Sunni to the Shia faith.

Mirwais Khan remained in power until his death in 1715, and his son Mir Mahmood Hotaki was succeeded to be the ruler of the region. In 1722, Mir Mahmood led an Afghan army to Asfahan, the capital of the Safawy Persia and proclaimed himself King of Persia. The Hotaki dynasty was ended by a new ruler, Nadir Shah Afshar, who totally destroyed Kandahar by artillery fire in 1738. Removing the surviving inhabitant, Nadir Shah built a new town to the west of the ancient city and named it after himself as "Nadir abad. As such, there are no buildings older than 1738 in the city, as all that existed were leveled with artillery fire in the ancient Kandahar.

Nadir Shah was assassinated nine years later in 1747 by his trusted treasurer officer Ahmad Khan Abdali (Durani), then he fled within hours of Nadir's assassination, fearing for his life. He carried off a good portion of the treasury which was under his supervision. The wealth proved an indispensable windfall for him when he returned to Kandahar Afghanistan and set out to create a state for himself.

The hero of Kandahar history, Ahmad Shah Durrani, an ethnic Pashtun and chief of the Abdali clan which he also known as the founder of modern Afghanistan, gained control of Kandahar in 1747 and made it the capital of his new Afghan Empire. Previously, Ahmad Shah served as a military commander and personal bodyguard of Nadir Shah of Persia.

His empire included present-day Afghanistan, the southern provinces of the Russia, Pakistan, and Kohistan provinces of Iran. In October 1772, Ahmad Shah retired to his home in Marouf, Kandahar, where he died peacefully between 1773-76. His eldest son Timor Shah Durrani transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul, where the Durrani legacy continued.

As the Kandahar history reveals, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989), Kandahar was under Soviet command and witnessed heavy fighting. Soviet troops surrounded the city, and subjected it to a heavy artillery and air bombardment which in result many civilians lost their lives. After the Soviet withdrawal and the collapse of Dr. Najibullah's government in 1992, the city fell into the hands of a local militia leader (Gul Agha Sherzai).

In August 1994, A dark page has turned in history of Kandahar when the Taliban captured Kandahar and made the city as their capital and main base of their command for five years. Since their removal in late 2001, smaller bands have spread throughout the nearby provinces and the city once again came under the control of Gul Agha Sherzai, the governor of Nangarhar province who had controlled the region before the rise of the Taliban. Basically he was credited with permitting the same corruption that first fueled the growth of the Taliban. Sherzai was transferred in 2003 and replaced by Yusuf Pashtun the current Minister of Urban Development, then to Asadullah Khalid and now the current governor is Toryalai Wesah.

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