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HomeLIFEBamiyan Was once Surrounded By Towering Statues

Bamiyan Was once Surrounded By Towering Statues

Bamiyan Was once Surrounded By Towering Statues

Bamiyan the famous Buddha statues of Bamiyan are carved out of stone cliffs in the sandy area. This place is famous for its tall statues. It was once home to towering statues. Those who ignore their history have forgotten it too. Those who distort their history deserve to be forgotten themselves. There have been many occasions in history when civilizations have been destroyed, especially when Alexander the Great destroyed the Iranian city of Takht Jamshed in 330 BC, the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria in the 3rd century AD, and the Old Summer outside Beijing in 1860. The looting of Chinese treasures in the palace, and most recently the rampant looting of Iraqi museums during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, during which 170,000 objects, including 5,000-year-old sculptures, were looted.

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Nile River’s water level

After the construction of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s, the Nile River’s water level rose, threatening the riverside temple built by Pharaoh Ramses at Abu Simbel in 1244 BC. The temple was dismantled and then reassembled at a higher point where the sun’s rays can enter its interior on 22nd October and 22nd February every year as it was when it was built centuries ago. Such a reconstruction took almost 5 years for UNESCO and Egyptologists just for planning and detailed engineering.

Afghan Taliban

In 2001, the Afghan Taliban took less than 5 days to destroy the great Buddha statues in Bamiyan. The Taliban destroyed their reputation in the international community more than the vandalism of Buddha statues. Today, the places where Buddha statues once stood are empty.

British Tourists

Fortunately, photographs taken by British tourists at the end of the 19th century remind us of what the city of Bamiyan looked like in its full glory. On October 15, 1878, British artist William Simpson left London for Afghanistan. He was sent by The Illustrated London News to sketch the Afghan War. He reached Afghanistan via Lahore, Peshawar, and Khyber Pass.

Statues in Bamiyan

On the way he saw Buddhist stupas and other places after which he expressed his desire to see Buddha statues in Bamiyan. He had read about it in the writings of the Chinese travelers Fahian (400 BC) and Hien Tsang (632 BC). He was unable to see these statues on this visit and when he returned with the Afghan Boundary Commission in 1884-86, he still missed seeing the Buddha statues at Bamiyan.

William Simpson

However, William Simpson did not hesitate to seek help from people better than himself. He had access to sketches of the Bamiyan sculptures by a British officer, Captain Pelham James Maitland (later a British Political Agent in Aden from 1901 to 1904).

James Maitland

Sketches by William Simpson adapt from sketches by James Maitland (acknowledging James Maitland’s sketches) were publish in the 6 and 13 November 1886 issues of the Illustrate London News. William Simpson, in his detail notes to the diagrams, wrote that ‘Indian archaeologists have long known about the great Buddha statues at Bamiyan, but they have not made accurate diagrams or taken reliable measurements.  Now these diagrams are made and these sculptures are measure in such a way that they can be trust. This is one of several important findings of the Afghan Boundary Commission. We are also in-debt to the sketches made by Captain Maitland and the remains of paintings on the walls of niches and caves.

Kabul and Balkh

Bamiyan is situate on the road between Kabul and Balkh, where it crosses the Paropamisus mountain range. It is locate at an altitude of about 8,500 feet above sea level. Pudding stones find here with a high cliff in the valley. Caves may have been built by Buddhist monks on these rocks in early times, probably during the early centuries of the Christian era.

Several Caves

Bamiyan has a large number of caves stretching for miles. There are several caves that extend north along the road to Hibak. Looking at the remains in the Jalalabad valley, it is estimate that these caves will not be just monasteries or monasteries, but they will regular buildings.

There were once the tallest standing Buddhas in the world, the Bamiyan Buddha statues, cut from sandstone cliffs dating back to the 5th century AD. Read More

Buddhist Monks

When the Chinese pilgrim Hien Tsang visit Bamiyan in 630 BC, he report that 1,000 Buddhist monks live here and 10 buildings were dedicate to them. He describes Bamiyan as a kingdom but we know it only because of its caves and great statues, which are Buddhist remains. There are 5 statues in Bamiyan, and 3 of them are in niches. These sculptures are carve into the rock inside the niche. Similarly, the largest statue has also prepare. Its size has been variously estimate by travelers, some 100 feet and others as high as 150 feet.

London Monument

Captain Talbot, using the theodolite, discovered that all previous estimates were incorrect. This statue is 173 feet tall. It is 29 feet shorter than the London Monument which has an exact measurement of 202 feet. Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square is 176 feet high and thus this statue in Bamyan is almost equal to it.


If all the great statues of the world could gather in one place if the statues of Memnon could come from the banks of the Nile (which are 51 feet high and would be even taller if they were standing), the temple at Ipsumbol (Abu Simbol). In front are the 4 great guardian statues, the bronze die-boots of Japan, the statue of Athene by Pheidias for the Parthenon, which is 39 feet high, or the great statue of Rhodes, all in one place. The great statue of Bamiyan will stand like a giant statue in the middle of which there will be no second in height.

Stairs and Galleries

William Simpson rejects the notion of some historians that the Bamiyan sculptures are pre-Buddhist. To him, the hairstyle, long ears, and folds in the statue’s robes clearly define him as Buddha. He adds that there are entrances at the feet of the statue, which are connect by stairs and galleries, to reach the top. In the past, the largest statue was once bejeweled and painted. Chinese pilgrims have written that her golden complexion shines everywhere. And the eyes are dazzle by the glitter of her precious jewels.

Timur’s Soldiers

Referring to the local tradition. Simpson has said that when Timur’s soldiers passed through here. On their way to invade India, they shot arrows at the idols. And Nadir Shah’s troops also fire cannonballs at them. He prophetically says that the Taliban will surely destroy such objects of idolatry. The Taliban did the same in 2001. So, today’s visitors have to be content with the holograms present in empty niches.

Who Destroyed his Statues

What would the Buddha have said to those who destroy his statues? Then what will they think of Taliban who have brutally forgotten their past? Maybe they will say that I don’t believe in destiny which is create by people doing something. But I believe in the destiny that results from doing nothing.

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