Buddhist Tope [at] Ispola, between Ali Musjid & Landi Kotal. [Sphola Stupa]
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
The Anglo-Russian rivalry (called the Great Game) precipitated the Second Afghan War. Afghanistan was of strategic importance to the British in the defence of their Indian Empire, and the prevention of the spreading influence of Russia. They favoured a Forward Policy of extending India's frontiers to the Hindu Kush and gaining control over Afghanistan. An opportunity presented itself when the Amir Sher Ali turned away a British mission while a Russian mission was visiting his court at Kabul. The British had demanded a permanent mission at Kabul which Sher Ali, trying to keep a balance between the Russians and British, would not permit.
British suspicions of the Amir's perceived susceptibility to the Russians led them to invade Afghanistan.
The stupa dates from the 2nd to the 5th century AD and lies between Ali Masjid and Landi Kotal. It consists of a dome resting on a three-tiered square base and stands as testament to the Buddhist era in the region when the Khyber was within the empire of the Kushanas. Gandhara sculpture has been excavated at this site in the early 20th century.