Bamiyan, Afghanistan Monday, Sep 30, 2013 One of the most unique historical monuments of Afghanistan used to be the two gigantic Buddha statues from the 4th century AD near Bamiyan in the center of the country. For more than 1,500 years they had drawn the Buddhist pilgrims. In March 2001 Taliban declared them anti Islamic and dynamited them. Today our morning program takes us to the remnants of the statues. At 9 AM we are driven on a dusty road from Bamiyan. The first view of the face of the mountain opens for us at 9:20 AM. We are taking pictures of the two empty niches. In the gigantic vertical wall there are also numerous caves in them the Buddhist monks used to live. Now they are only memories of time in the first centuries AD when Buddhism spread from India into what is Afghanistan now. Standing under the larger niche we are talking to a man from the Kabul Museum. He is here to assess the remnants of the statues for their reconstruction. There are also plans for a museum near the statues. We are entering the larger niche before 10:30 AM. The only parts of the statue left are its soles. There are pieces of the broken statue in the surrounding caves. These pieces do not have any visible form, because the statue was built from porous material. It is not clear to me, if these pieces could be used for the statue reconstruction. I hear 3 peoples speaking English and think there are other tourists here. However, these people are employee of some NCO from Kabul. These 3 are originally from Bosnia and they are surprised because they see the first tourists in Afghanistan. They have never see one here before. The tickets for the niches are sold in a little house. Inside they want to know our names and where are we from. Somebody starts to give only his first name and everybody else follows. So I am Val from California. I get a handwritten note with Val in Arabic script V. /\ I know that . means a. Our guide pays 300 Afg (Afghani) for each of us. Local people pay 60 Afg. The second smaller niche is still emptier than the first. Unidentifiable pieces of its statue are stowed under wooden roofs. If there are no other pieces somewhere else, then there is not too much left from this statue. On the left site of the niche there are stairs chiseled inside the wall to some galleries. From here there is a great view of a citadel Shahr-e-Gholghola (City of Screams) on a hill behind the town. We are returning to Bamiyan at about 11:15 AM. On the fields before the town locals harvest potatoes. Little farther away there are crumbling houses of the old town. After siesta, at 4 PM we go to visit City of Screams founded by Sassanians dynasty from Persia in 6th century AD. It got the name Shahr-e Gholghola (City of Screams) after the Genghis Khan took the citadel in the year 1221 and massacred its inhabitants. At present the fortress is being reconstructed. Number of donkeys bringing material. I use the path stamped by them to get to about the mid of the steep hill. Most of the reconstruction is done here. Italy pays for it. It is still high to the top. I am taking pictures and video of the activity around me. After an hour we get back to our hotel in Bamiyan.
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