Par Olivia Cassano

Afghanistan is not what you'd call a tourist paradise, not with the media constantly reporting travel warnings, bombings and unimaginable poverty. But it wasn't always this way, and before the Soviet-Afghan war and the Taliban regime you could visit Afghanistan without fear.

Dr William Podlich did exactly that, and in 1967 took a two-year sabbatical from teaching at Arizona State University and teamed up with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to teach in the Higher Teachers College in Kabul, Afghanistan. His wife Margaret and two daughters, Peg and Jan, went with him.

During his stay, Dr Podlich did much more than develop new relationships: he captured a culture that is a far cry from the war-torn images we see in the news today. Using his Kodachrome camera, his photos show a peaceful Afghanistan making strides towards a more liberal and Westernised way of life - a stark contrast to harrowing sights seen during the Taliban regime.

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Both boys and girls were educated to high-school level (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Sisters holding hands (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Rush hour in Kabul (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

But everything changed 10 years after Dr Podlich took these photos. Prior to the Islamic fundamentalists that surged to power in 1994, the country was left with deep scars by the Soviet-Afghan war. Soviet troops occupied the country in 1979 and stayed for nine years. Less than a decade later, the Taliban seize control of Kabul, prohibiting women from work and introducing Islamic punishments such as stoning to death and amputations. Then came the US invasion in 2001.

Speaking to the Denver PostPeg Podlich says how these images are extremely important in her eyes, and how she remembers Afghanistan as a country with thousands of years of art and history.

"It has been a gut-wrenching experience to watch and hear about the profound suffering which has occurred in Afghanistan during the battles of war for nearly 40 years. Fierce and proud yet fun loving people have been beaten down by terrible forces."

Due to the constant turmoil that took - and to this day keeps taking - place in the country, modern Afghanistan bares little resemblance to the prosperous and peaceful place it once was. Dr Podlich's photos are a rare opportunity to see the real Afghanistan, long before anyone had a chance to destroy it.

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Kabul Gorge, locally known as Tang-i-Gharoo (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Bus commute (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Schoolchildren at recess (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Young Afghans sharing tea and music (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

A class in the garden (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Frying up some jalebi, a traditional dessert (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

New Years celebrations (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Relaxing in the shade, overlooking Istalif (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Dr William Podlich himself, and a beautiful landscape (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

A blonde Peg Podlich pictured as locals walk by (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

Beautiful photos of Afghanistan in the 60s

Jan and Peg Podlich at Paghman Gardens, which was destroyed by war (Photo: Dr William Podlich)

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