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Afghanistan

BAMIYAN

  • Is located in the Bamian River valley (elevation 2,590 m/8,480 ft) northwest of Kabul, in Afghanistan, was for centuries an important commercial and religious center on the caravan route between central Asia and India.

  • During the 2d to 9th century, numerous Buddhist monuments were constructed along the conglomerate cliffs that wall the valley. They include caves fashioned into temples and monasteries, many containing well-preserved frescolike wall paintings, and a famous colossal statue of the Buddha, standing 53 m (175 ft) high, the tallest stone sculpture of its kind in the world. This standing Buddha and another measuring about 37 m (120 ft) are set within niches carved into the cliff. The statues, which probably date from the 3d to 5th century, are mentioned by the Chinese monk Xuanzang, who visited Bamian c.630 on his way to India. Mongol invaders under Genghis Khan destroyed the town in 1221.


Bamiyan Buddhist Statue

  • During the Afghan civil war of the 1980s and '90s the caves at Bamian became a shelter for refugees. The presence of so many people created a grave risk to the archaeological site, which also came under bomb attack by the Taliban government in 1997. Taliban militiamen captured Bamian in September 1998, raising fears that these militant Muslims might destroy the statues, which they consider idolatrous. In late 2001 the Taliban attempted to destroy these historical statues. It is not yet clear as to the extent of the damage they caused.

AROUND BAMIYAN

  • BAND-I-AMIR - 73 kms west of Bamiyan and at the foot of a series of hills of beautiful hue and color, there is a group of very deep mountain lakes of an extraordinary blue color. Camping on the shores of these lakes is a thrilling experience.


Lake Band-i-Amir