Bagh-e Jehan Nama Palace, Kholm
Introduction and Overview:
The Bagh-e Jehan Name Palace was built between 1890-1892 by Amir Abdur Rahman. It was then further restored and renovated between 1974-1976 by President Daoud Khan with the intention of turning it into a museum. However an earthquake in 1976 caused serious damage to the structure and the following years of conflict and civil war led to further damage and the neglect of the palace.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Russian soldiers used the palace and grounds as a base. Army tanks were situated in the sculpted gardens, and parts were concreted over to provide stable surfaces to drive on, this left the gardens in ruins. In 2007 the original plans were picked up and the community heritage project begun, with the involvement of CIE. The aim is to turn the palace into an ethnographic museum which will cover the history and cultures of the northern plains but also act as a site museum with attention being paid to the historic urban centre of Tashqurghan. This will be the first ethnographic museum in Afghanistan.
The gardens are being re-established also, being replanted in a manner to represent 'bio-diversity'. It will once again allow the gardens to become a meeting place for the local community and attractive picnic spot. The garden is an important recreational area for local families, and there are now over 80 different native tree species to be found here.
Afghan ownership is the highest priority of this programme, therefore at all stages informal meetings are held with stakeholders, police, national security, the local Ministry of Information and Culture, as well as the local craftsmen and staff involved in the project. Before the war began the palace gardens were important meeting places for local families and for holding social events. The communities have expressed during consulations how important it is for them to have this place for their own again. The current project aims to reconstruct the palace garden using the personal recollections of the local people and historical sources in combination with the skills of our local partners New AFIR Architects who designed the projects, carried out together with local craftsmen. This will ensure accuracy in their reconstruction, to return the garden to its former splendour.
The building materials are all made within the region. For example pakhsa is used- a combination of mud, clay and dung mixed and densified by bulls in the fields surrounding the palace. This material is used for the reconstruction of the garden walls, and this traditional craft is executed by local pakhsa Ustads at the palace. Experienced and young local craftsmen are employed for the work, including brick makers, lime mixers, carpenters, masons, gardeners and more. This helps to stimulate the local economy, increase feelings of local ownership but also raises the awareness about this heritage, and therefore also sustainability.
Numerous public awareness and educational programmes have been implemented with regional schools. For example we have a long-running 'Kholm for Kids' educational programme, which includes visits to the museum as part of the activities. CIE has been working with the Bagh-e Jehan Nama Palace since 2007 and hopes to continue building upon this well-established relationship in the future.
Awareness and Education