Photographer's Note

This is the Bamiyan Valley, looking across the town to the Large Buddha niche. At 55m high this used to house the tallest standing Buddha ever made and which was created in the 6th century. About 500m to the right is the Small Buddha niche with a similar carving that was 38m high.

Although not perfectly preserved, the Buddhas remained well intact until March 2001. Then they were destroyed by the Taliban. Although they had always threatened to demolish these "un-Islamic" icons, they withheld from carrying out the action on this world famous site for several years. But ultimately they fired rockets at the statues and dynamited the damaged carvings until only piles of rubble were left.

The world was horrified and in the West awareness of the terrible regime of the Taliban increased. I suspect that this act helped to make it easier to influence public opinion against the Taliban when the time came for the US led war after September 11th.

But tragic though the demolition of the Buddhas was, let us not forget the much more awful tragedy across Afghanistan. The human cost is one far greater than the destruction of ancient statues. Here in Bamiyan and in many other towns across the country, the Taliban rushlessly murdered those who did not support them and razed to the ground houses and bazaars. Today, on the outskirts of the town, ruined buildings still line the road, testament to these dreadful times.

Following Sarju's excellent suggestion, here is a link to some photos of the Buddhas before their distruction.

There's also an excellent picture here by Luko.

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Additional Photos by Jonathan Wilson (jbweasle) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1235 W: 75 N: 1804] (9393)
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