ḠŌRBAND (ḠURBAND), a major valley of Kōhe-stān/Kuhestān and a sub-province (woloswāli) of Parvān province in the southern foothills of the Hindu Kush massif, located approximately 50 miles north of Kabul. The term Ḡōrband probably derives from Ḡōr/Ḡur (q.v.), the name of the mountainous region northwest of Ḡōrband, and the Persian word band (barrier, dam), i.e., the mountainous barrier to Ḡur (see Bābor-nāma, tr. Beveridge, p. 214). This picturesque valley contains some dazzling vistas near the subsidiary valleys and villages of Bāḡ-e Awḡān, Dara-e Ašāwa, Deh Rangar, Čārdeh, Dara-e Ju-ye Doḵtar, Dara-ye Sayyedān, and Siāhgerd. The sub-province is about 935 square miles and stretches for approximately 60 miles from the village of Tutom-dara (about 8 miles north of Čārikār, q.v), seat of the Parvān provincial government at its eastern entrance, to the base of Šibar pass in the west. The elevation of the valley varies from about 5,500 feet in much of the eastern part to over 8,400 feet at the foot of the Šibar pass. Ḡōrband is bordered in the south, from the Šibar pass to Čārdeh, by a narrow branch of Kuh-e Bābā range and from there, east to Tutom-dara, by Paḡmān mountains. The valley is drained by the Ḡōrband river which, after joining the Panjšir about 8 miles southeast of Tutom-dara, flows into the Kabul river east of Tang-e Ḡāru gorge.

The 1970s census of Afghanistan estimated the population of Ḡōrband at 21,500 living in about 43 villages with 21 villages having 500 or more inhabitants (Gazetteer of Afghanistan VI, p. 220). The majority of the inhabitants of Ḡōrband are Sunni Tajiks. A number of villagers claim to be of Sayyed descent. Several villages in the eastern parts of the valley are home to Šinwāri Pashtuns/Paxtuns. The Shiʿite (Shaikh ʿAli) Hazāras are numerically dominant in western Ḡōrband.

Prior to the tunneling of Sālang pass through the Hindu Kush range and the construction of an all-weather road for motorized traffic there in the 1960s, the main road from Kabul to northern Afghanistan passed through the Ḡōrband valley. This gravel road was upgraded in the 1930s to accommodate trucks, but it was never paved. Until early 20th century Tutom-dara, in eastern Ḡōr-band, was one of the locations where duty on trade goods to and from northern Afghanistan was collected.

Ḡōrband produces large quantities of almonds, apples, apricots, grapes, mulberries, peaches, pears, pomegranates, quinces, and walnuts. Surpluses of grapes and apricots are dried and exported to areas within and outside Afghanistan. Some varieties of fresh grapes are preserved in small wooden and clay containers for export and for local consumption during the off-season. Mulberries, fresh (tut) and dried (talḵān), are an important part of the diet of the people of Kōhestān. A few villages produce surplus dairy products. The village of Ašāwa is famous for a variety of dried cheese called panir-e Ašāwa. A number of popular dishes in the country are said to have originally come from Ḡōrband: šola-ye ḡorbandi, a dish in which well-cooked thick rice and mung beans (šola) are served with lamb and vegetable stew; šurvā-ye ḡorbandi, a soup made of lamb and vegetables. Its šurvā-ye čāynaki (teapot soup), a soup of lamb and vegetables prepared in teapots and served to travelers in major rest stops, is reputed to be one of the best of its kind in Afghanistan.

There are reports of extensive mineral resources in Ḡōbrand. Until early 1880s lead was mined near the village of Faranjal, about 6 miles west of Čārdeh. British surveyors in the 19th century reported significant deposits of iron, zinc, sulfur, and coal (Gazetteer of Afghanistan VI, p. 168). The presence of these and other resources have been confirmed by recent surveys (Shroder).

Čārikār is the largest town and market place in the province of Parvān. In Ḡōrband, as throughout much of Afghanistan, besides the town and city markets, there are periodic (usually weekly) markets in some villages located near the main roads (e.g., Čardeh and Tutom-dara in Ḡōrband) that help integrate local economies. In addition to relations generated by trade in fruits and the transit activity along the main road, the local economy is engaged by regular contacts with Pashtun pastoral nomads who seasonally visit pastures throughout the valley. The nomads bring in pulses and ghee, both important supplements to the local cereal-based diet and trinkets. Over time some of these nomads have settled in the valley.

There are numerous pre-Islamic archeological sites throughout Ḡōrband. The ruins of an early medieval Buddhist monastery complex near the village of Fondoqestān (q.v.), about 23 miles east of Tutom-dara, were excavated by Joseph Hackin in the 1930s. Excavation of the site, which is dated to the late 6th or early 7th centuries C.E., produced a large number of sculptures and a hoard of Arab-Sasanian coins. Fondoqestān is located equidistant between the large pre-Islamic sites of Bagrām/Begrām (q.v.), the site of ancient Kāpisa in the east, and Bāmiān (q.v.) in the west.

Ḡōrband has been prominent in the modern history of Afghanistan. During the first Anglo-Afghan war (1838-42, see ANGLO-AFGHAN WARS i.) a contingent of British army was defeated by local forces at Tutom-dara (Gazetteer of Afghanistan VI, pp. 794-95). During this war the British contemplated the termination of duties on trade goods that were being collected at this village. In 1929 a number of armed confrontations took place in western Ḡōrband between the Sunnite militia sent from Kabul by Ḥabib-Allāh Kalakāni, known as Bačča-ye Saqqā (q.v.), and the local Shiʿite Hazāra forces supporting the dethroned Amir Amān-Allāh Khan (q.v.). After the collapse of the central government in 1992, the valley has been the site of several battles between the Ṭālebān forces and the various opposition groups.



Nigel John R. Allan, “Men and Crops in the Central Hindukush,” Ph.D. diss., Syracuse University, 1978.

Idem, “Kuh Daman Periodic Markets: Cynosures for Rural Circulation and Potential Economic Development,” in Erwin Grotzbach, ed. Aktu-elle Probleme der Regionalentwicklung und Stadtgeographic Afghanistans/Current Problems of Regional Development and Urban Geography of Afghanistan, Meisenheim am Glan, 1976, pp. 173-93.

Frank Raymond Allchin and Norman Hammond, eds., The Archaeology of Afghanistan from Earliest Times to the Timurid Period, New York, 1978.

Gazetteer of Afghanistan VI, pp. 220-27.

Bābor-nāma, tr. Beveridge, p. 205.

Dāyerat al-Moʿāref-e Āriāna, Afḡānestān, Kabul, 1955.

Moḥammad Fayż, Ketāb-e taḏakkor-e enqelāb, tr. Robert D. McChesney as Kabul Under Siege: Fayz Muhammad’s Account of the 1929 Uprising, Princeton, 1999.

Joseph Hackin, “La monastère boudhique de Fondukistan (fouille de J. Carl, 1937), MDAFA 8, 1959, pp. 49-58.

Idem, “The Buddhist Monastery of Fondukistan,” Afghanistan 5/2, 1950, pp. 19-35.

Johannes Humlum, La géographie de l’Afghanistan, étude d’un pays aride, Copenhagen, 1959.

John William Kaye, History of the War in Afghanistan, 3 vols., London, 1857.

Perceval Barton Lord, “Some Accounts of a Visit to the Plain of Koh-i-Daman, the Mining District of Ghorband, and the Pass of Hindu Kush, with a Few General Observations Respecting the Structure and Conformation of the Country from the Indus to Kabul,” JASB 7, 1838, pp. 521-37.

Charles Mason, Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan and thePanjab, 3 vols., London, 1842, repr., London, 1974.

“Resources and Expenditure of Afghanistan, 1841,” National Archives of India, For. S. C., nos. 32-35, 25 October 1842.

Benjamin Rowland, “The Bejewelled Buddha in Afghanistan,” Artibus Asiae 24, 1961, pp. 20-24.

John F. Shroder, Jr.,”The USSR and Afghanistan Mineral Resources,” in Allen F. Agnew, ed., International Minerals: A National Perspective, Boulder, Colo., 1983, pp. 115-53.

Charles Edward Yates, Northern Afghanistan, or Letters from the Afghan Boundary Commission, London, 1888.

(M. Jamil Hanifi)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 17, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 2, pp. 137-138