The Buddhas of Bamiyan (or Bamyan) were two 6th-century monumental statues carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of Hazarajat region in central Afghanistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Carbon dating of the structural components of the Buddhas has determined that the smaller 38 m (125 ft) “Eastern Buddha” was built around 570 CE, and the larger 55 m (180 ft) “Western Buddha” was built around 618 CE, which would date both to the time when the Hephthalites ruled the region.
The statues represented a later evolution of the classic blended style of ancient art in Afghanistan.
The Buddhas were surrounded by numerous caves and surfaces decorated with paintings.
People were living there and used the caves as residence homes
Unfortunately, in March 2001, the Taliban government destroyed the Buddhas using dynamite and artillery. The decision was based on their belief that the statues were a representation of idolatry, which is forbidden in Islam. This act of destruction sparked international outrage and received widespread media coverage.
Today, the empty niches where the Buddhas once stood are a poignant reminder of the loss that Afghanistan suffered. Many efforts have been made by the Afghan government and international organizations to rebuild the statues, but to no avail. However, the site remains a popular tourist destination, and efforts have been made to restore and preserve the surrounding caves and murals.
Although the physical remains of the Buddhas may be gone, their legacy lives on in the people who continue to explore and learn about the ancient history and culture of Afghanistan. It serves as a reminder that despite the challenges and conflicts faced by the country, there is still much beauty and significance to be found.
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