Kabul to Mazar
Mazar-i-Sharif Travel Blog› entry 4 of 13 › view all entries
The Salang Tunnel just north of Kabul is one of the most beautiful drives you can make anywhere in the world. The tunnel at the top of the pass is the highest driveable tunnel in the world, and Gabriel had fun counting the galleries leading up to the tunnel and out of the tunnel. The tunnel itself takes several minutes to drive through, so we decided to not hold our breath for the length of the tunnel.
On the other side, we came out to see the high mountain glaciers on the north side of the Hindu Kush. We drove down through a series of Ismaili villages, down to Pul-i-Khumri, and then on to Surkh Kotal, the ancient monumental five-layered staircase built by Kanishka in the third century AD. The staircase goes up the side of the mountain, and looks better from a kilometer or two away, rather than right up close.
After Surkh Kotal we drove further to Takhta-i-Rustam near Samangan which is an ancient Buddhist Stuppa from the time of Christ. The cylindrical monument is carved out of a stone mountain, and has amazing views of the surrounding valley. On top of the cylinder is a small temple carved out of solid stone.
Late that afternoon we headed to Mazar to spend the night at some friends home. We had a great visit with them that night.