Bamiyan is the largest town in central Afghanistan in the Hindu-Kush mountain range. It was home to the famous “Buddhas of Bamiyan”, and many other statues of Buddha carved into the sides of cliffs. The most prominent were two statues of 35 m and 53 m heights. They marked the entry point to the land of Buddha from the north-west (Central-Asia). These statues stand brutalised today, unfortunately.
There were also several Buddhist monasteries and caves in Bamiyan and it was a thriving centre for religion, philosophy and art until it was completely conquered by the Muslim Saffarids in the 9th century.
Bamiyan was a gateway for knowledge seekers coming to the land of India.
Destruction of the statues
The statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Anti-aircraft guns, artillery and later anti-tank mines were also used along with other explosives. A statement issued by the ministry of religious affairs of the Taliban regime justified the destruction as being in accordance with Islamic law.
Author Sankrant Sanu, in his tweet from 2014, talked about how the destruction in Bamiyan was not an act of random vandalism but a legal act according to Sharia (Islamic Law)
Taliban's destruction of Bamiyan was no random vandalism but Islamic scholarly opinion backed by their Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/QWyuqVyLHF
— Sankrant Sanu सानु संक्रान्त ਸੰਕ੍ਰਾਂਤ ਸਾਨੁ (@sankrant) September 3, 2014
In an interview, Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel stated that the destruction was anything but a retaliation against the international community for economic sanctions: “We are destroying the statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue”, he said.
Before and After images
Let us hope such acts of barbarism and vandalism are not repeated anywhere ever again and the world preserves and takes pride in its “Cultural Heritage”.
“Roots in India”- Autobiography of India series by D.K. Hari and D.K. Hema Hari by Garuda Prakashan.