Bamyan government officials and coalition and NATO International Security Assistance Force leadership discuss the history of the Buddhas of Bamyan. The Buddhas of Bamyan were two monumental statues of standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan before they were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001. Photo by Senior Airman Dilia DeGrego, USAF
An Afghan National Army soldier stands guard at the ruins of the Buddhas of Bamyan. The Buddhas of Bamyan were two monumental statues of standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan. Photo by Senior Airman Dilia DeGrego, USAF
Bamyan was once an area of tourism and cultural exploration. The sandstone cliffs are full of caves, originally created by Buddhist Monks. The caves are a wealth of writings and paintings.
Now, Bamyan is stuggling to come back. The people of Bamyan have turned the once war-torn area into a peaceful one, where there are no armed people walking around and agriculture, although in need of modernization, is doing well. In addition, there is no longer any poppy seed cultivation in the province.
But, what they would really like to do is reconstruct the Buddhas. Several countries have offered, but none have acted.
"We want people to come help repair these statues," an Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture representative said. "The people ask when they will be rebuilt. They are guarding and preserving the pieces of the Buddhas so in the future, if they are rebuilt, we can use some of the original pieces.
"We are doing what we can to preserve what is left of the historical paintings and writings, as well, putting up doors to the rooms that those paintings and writings are in," he said. "It is very important to preserve this historical area. Everyone wants to this area to be preserved. We want to rebuild it so the others can come and see the area and its historical value."
The US and NATO have been meeting with the Afghans regarding this area. I hope that we will help them rebuild and protect this ancient wonder.