BALKH Afghanistan – Mazari Sharif
In the province of Balkh, 20 kilometers from the city of Mazare Sharif, there is a city of Balkh, which was in antiquity known as Bactria, or Tokharistan. Described as noble and great by Marco Polo, it became the last refuge of Zoroaster, who died here, as Persian poet Firdowsi claimed. Balkh was later capital of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom which came to being after Alexander the Great conquered this region. Balkh was also known as a Buddhist centre
where famous monks Trapusa and Bahalika lived and were buried. The city went from one dynasty to another after the Islamic conquest, and it was finally sacked by Genghis Khan. Reconstructed again in the 14th century, it finally fell in the hands of Afghans in 1752. With the rise of Mazari Sharif, Balkh finally lost its administrative status in the 19th century, and until these days it remains a rather small town with most of its inhabitants working in cotton industry.
The historic Balkh has the remains of Buddhist shrines as well as Greek settlements, tombs and a mosque. The most remarkable is the Buddhist stupa Takhte-Rostam which was built under the ground, in a trench 8 meters deep. Balkh is also the birth city of ZARATHUSTRA