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Bazaar and part of Bagram (2009)
Bazaar and part of Bagram (2009)
Bagram is located in Afghanistan
Location in Afghanistan
Bagram is located in South Asia
Bagram (South Asia)
Coordinates: 34°56′25″N 69°15′18″E / 34.9403°N 69.2550°E / 34.9403; 69.2550Coordinates: 34°56′25″N 69°15′18″E / 34.9403°N 69.2550°E / 34.9403; 69.2550
ProvinceParwan Province
DistrictBagram District
Time zone+04:30

Bagram (/bəɡrɑːm/; Pashto/Persian: بگرام) is a town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan, about 60 kilometers north of the capital Kabul. It is the site of an ancient city located at the junction of the Ghorband and Panjshir Valley, near today's city of Charikar, Afghanistan. The location of this historical town made it a key passage from Ancient India along the Silk Road, leading westwards through the mountains towards Bamiyan, and north over the Kushan Pass to the Baghlan Valley[1] and past the Kushan archeological site at Surkh Kotal, to the commercial centre of Balkh and the rest of northern Afghanistan. Bagram was also a capital of Kushan empire


Ancient history

The ancient city of Kapisi is identified with present day Bagram. The figures of ancient Buddhist and Hindu sculptures show that the city was initially ruled by Indic people who have either migrated or intermingled with the Iranian populations who moved into the region like Kambojas from Bactria.

Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by Emperor Ashoka, from Kandahar - Afghan National Museum. (Click image for translation).
Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by Emperor Ashoka, from Kandahar - Afghan National Museum. (Click image for translation).

While the Diadochi were warring amongst themselves, the Mauryan Empire was developing in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The founder of the empire, Chandragupta Maurya, confronted a Macedonian invasion force led by Seleucus I in 305 BC and following a brief conflict, an agreement was reached as Seleucus ceded Gandhara and Arachosia (centered on ancient Kandahar) and areas south of Bagram (corresponding to the extreme south-east of modern Afghanistan) to the Mauryans. During the 120 years of the Mauryans in southern Afghanistan, Buddhism was introduced and eventually become a major religion alongside Zoroastrianism and local pagan beliefs.

Bagram became the capital of the Kushan Empire in the 1st century. The "Bagram treasure" as it has been called, is indicative of intense commercial exchanges between all the cultural centers of the classical time, with the Kushan empire at the junction of the land and sea trade between the east and west. However, the works of art found in Bagram, such as the Begram ivories, are either quite purely Hellenistic, Roman, Chinese or Indian, with only little indications of the cultural syncretism found in Greco-Buddhist art.

Islamic conquest

The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan and the adjoining Pashtun region began in 7th century after conquest of Persia. However, the complete Islamization of Afghanistan wasn't achieved until the Ghaznavid rule. The modern-day town is believed to be founded by Babur at the site of the ancient city.[2] In Babur's memoirs, the Baburnama, the emphasis of his visit in 1519 is on the colony of Hindu ascetics at Gurh Kattri (Kur Katri), who fascinated him.[3]

Recent history

Bagram school children
Bagram school children

Bagram hosts the strategic Bagram Airfield, from which most US air activity in Afghanistan took place. The runway was built in 1976, and it was a Soviet air base from 1979 to 1989. There was also a Provincial Reconstruction Team when the US were present in Afghanistan and implemented their counter-insurgency strategy.[4]

Bagram is also the location of the Parwan Detention Facility; this detention facility was the last prison in Afghanistan under management of the US. It was handed back to the Afghan government on 25 March 2013.[5] The detention centre had earlier come into the attention of the news media as it was claimed that prisoners were tortured (see the article Bagram torture and prisoner abuse). At the time of the hand-over of the facility, human-rights groups like Amnesty International have raised concerns about the treatment of prisoners there.[5]

On December 21, 2015, Bagram was the site of a suicide bombing killing 6 people.[6]

On 1 July 2021, US troops departed from the air base, abandoning the outpost over to the Afghan government after 20 years. According to the then Afghan commander, the US evacuated the base during the night without any previous official notice to the Afghan army.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Cunningham (1871), pp. 16-27
  2. ^ Bhattacharya, Avijeet (11 October 2017). Journeys on the Silk Road Through Ages. Zorba. p. 192. ISBN 9789386407818. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  3. ^ Losty, J. P. Roy, Malini (eds), Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, pp. 42-43, 2013, British Library, ISBN 0712358706, 9780712358705
  4. ^ "Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)". Institute for the Study of War. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  5. ^ a b Aljazeera news: US hands over Bagram prison to Afghanistan, 25 March 2013
  6. ^ Popalzai, Masoud; Starr, Barbara. "6 U.S. troops killed in motorcycle bomb attack in Afghanistan, officials say". CNN. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  7. ^ "US left Bagram Airbase at night with no notice, Afghan commander says". BBC. Retrieved 2022-06-16.


  • The Ancient Geography of India. I. The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang. Alexander Cunningham. Trübner and Co., London. Complete and unabridged reprint (2006): Low Price Publications, Delhi.
  • Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul (2008). Eds., Friedrik Hiebert and Pierre Cambon. National Geographic, Washington, D.C. ISBN 978-1-4262-0374-9.
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