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General Info

Istlif is a village about 18 miles northwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, situated at 345025N 690600E 34.8403N 69.1000E 34.8403; 69.1000 at 1693 m altitude. It is the center of Istalif District, Kabul Province, Afghanistan.. The village was destroyed during the long lasting wars around Kabul. There are a few repaired or newly constructed buildings. The village needs a lot of work to be done to return its previous state.. Its name might derive from Greek staphile ' bunch of grapes' or Parachi estuf ' cow parsnip '. es Istalif was always renowned as one of the most beautiful places in Afghanistan the Emperor Babur fell in love with it in the 16th century and used to hold parties in his rose garden and summer house there..

Alexander Burnes, a British political agent to Dost Mohammed in the 19th century, had come here to relax amid the plane and walnut trees. He described that the mountains streams are full of fishes and the orchards and vineyards are richest.. During the final phase of the First Anglo Afghan War, as General Pollock's Army of Retribution marched into Kabul, many families fled to Istalif. Troops were dispatched, which surrounded the town, attacked, and then systemically pillaged it.. The town was surrounded, attacked and then systemically pillaged. The British and Indian soldiers set fire to the cotton cloth of their victims and burnt them alive. They massacred women and children as well..

What To See

The ruins of the hotel makes for an interesting wander - with superb views over the Shomali Plain..

What To See

The ruins of the hotel makes for an interesting wander - with superb views over the Shomali Plain..

How To Get In

About an hours drive north of Kabul. There are two roads into the village from the main Kabul highway - the southernmost winds through the hills whilst the second is more direct and goes straight to the pottery shop street..

What To Buy

Istalif is famed for its pottery - supply far outweighs demand so prices are more than reasonable - and who wouldn't want a glazed dish with ' Made in Afghanistan ' stamped on the bottom ?.

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How To Get In

About an hours drive north of Kabul. There are two roads into the village from the main Kabul highway - the southernmost winds through the hills whilst the second is more direct and goes straight to the pottery shop street..

What To Buy

Istalif is famed for its pottery - supply far outweighs demand so prices are more than reasonable - and who wouldn't want a glazed dish with ' Made in Afghanistan ' stamped on the bottom ?.

What To Eat

Tea and kebabs under the trees..

Where To Sleep

The oddly named HydroLight Lodge offers western comforts such as electricity and hot showers. The place was built with the expat in mind..