34 Facts About Balkh


Balkh was historically an ancient place of religions, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, and one of the wealthiest and largest cities of Khorasan, since the latter's earliest history.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,436

French Buddhist Alexandra David-Neel associated Shambhala with Balkh, offering the Persian Sham-i-Bala as an etymology of its name.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,437

Old name of Balkh was Bami which was named after the Indo-Scythian Naga queen, Bami.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,438

Balkh was earlier considered to be the first city to which the Iranian tribes moved from north of the Amu Darya, between 2000 and 1500 BC.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,439

Balkh was part of one of the Janapadas that existed in India during the Vedic period somewhere between 1500 BCE and 600 BCE.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,440

Balkh is well known to Buddhists as the hometown of Trapusa and Bahalika, two merchants who, according to scripture, became Buddha's first disciples.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,441

Balkh is therefore named after Bahalika, who is credited with introducing Buddhism to the city.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,442

The first Buddhist monastery at Balkh was built for Bahalika when he returned home after becoming a Buddhist monk.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,443

Later, the Chinese monk Xuanzang visited Balkh in 630 CE, when it was a flourishing centre of Hinayana Buddhism.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,444

Balkh noted that the king of Balkh at the time had fled to nearby Badakshan.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,445

Some family were killed when the Arabs captured Balkh; others including Khalid survived by converting to Islam.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,446

An ancient Jewish community existed in Balkh as recorded by the Arab historian Al-Maqrizi who wrote that the community was established by the transfer of Jews to Balkh by the Assyrian King Sennacherib.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,447

Jewish community in Balkh was reported as late as the nineteenth century where Jews still resided in a special quarter of the city.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,448

At the time of the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century Balkh had provided an outpost of resistance and a safe haven for the Persian emperor Yazdegerd III who fled there from the armies of Umar.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,449

Arabs' control over Balkh did not last long as it soon came under the rule of a local prince, a zealous Buddhist called Nazak Tarkhan.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,450

Balkh expelled the Arabs from his territories in 670 or 671.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,451

Balkh is said to have not only reprimanded the Chief Priest of Nava-Vihara but beheaded him for embracing Islam.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,452

Balkh was deposed and his son was placed in his position.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,453

Balkh was taken by his mother to Kashmir where he was given training in medicine, astronomy and other sciences.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,454

Balkh surmises that the envoy could have possibly visited Kashmir during the reign of Samgramapida II.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,455

Balkh established a firm hold over lands beyond the Oxus for the Arabs.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,456

Balkh fought and killed Tarkhan Nizak in Tokharistan in 715.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,457

Balkh was sent to the Abbasid Caliph as a prisoner and was executed in 902.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,458

Samanid rule in Balkh lasted until 997, when their former subordinates, the Ghaznavids, captured it.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,459

In 1006, Balkh was captured by Karakhanids, but Ghaznavids recaptured it 1008.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,460

Between 1141 and 1142, Balkh was captured by Atsiz, Shah of Khwarezm, after the Seljuks were defeated by the Kara-Khitan Khanate at the Battle of Qatwan.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,461

Balkh was nominally ruled by Mahmud Khan, the former khan of Western Karakhanids, but the real power was held by Muayyid al-Din Ay Aba, amir of Nishabur for three years.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,462

Balkh died in 1157 and control of Balkh passed to Mahmud Khan until his death in 1162.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,463

Balkh was ruled by Bukhara except for Safavid rule between 1598 and 1601.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,464

Nevertheless, Balkh was ruled by the Mughal Empire from 1641 and turned into a subah in 1646 by Shah Jahan, only to be lost in 1647, just like the neighboring Badakhshan Subah.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,465

In 1751, Balkh was captured by Ahmad Shah Durrani of the Durrani Empire, and from that time it remained under Afghan rule.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,466

In 1866, after a malaria outbreak during the flood season, Balkh lost its administrative status to the neighbouring city of Mazar-i-Sharif, about 20 kilometres southeast of Balkh.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,467

In 1911 Balkh comprised a settlement of about 500 houses of Afghan settlers, a colony of Jews and a small bazaar set in the midst of a waste of ruins and acres of debris.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,468

Balkh had a major role in the development of the Persian language and literature.

FactSnippet No. 1,936,469