Today we will discover the treasures of Bamyan. First stop for the team is nearby the ruins of the Buddhas tore down by the Taliban in 2001 because worshipped by part of the population and because they didn’t respect the Islamic Dogmas.
There were 2 huge statues, high respectively 38 and 59 meters, carved into the walls of a mountain by a religious group of Buddhist, between the Third and Fifth century.
The main bodies where carved directly inside the walls of the mountain, while all the details were created by mixing mud and hay and later covered in plaster; it is also believed that the faces were made with the help of giant wooden masks. On the side there are lots of small niches carved in the rocks, decorated with religious statues and frescoes with shiny colors, which were the monks houses. One of the two statues was a sitting Buddha, inside a niche situated on the rock wall between the two most important monuments, unfortunately destroyed by the Taliban too between 2001 and 2002. The scenery in front of our eyes is very, very sad. We decide to get inside the caves, up by steeper steps and tunnels carved in the mountain. It’s a weird feeling to find yourself in a Muslim country but at the same time being in a mystic place, where Buddhist monks have lived. During the “climb” towards the highest reachable spot, we stop to visit the niches where we find still intact frescoes after all this years, climatic events, and the brutal human intervention. Getting inside it’s like falling in a new kind of dimension: the outside view that embraces the landscape and the silence express a peaceful feeling, a spirituality, maybe the same one that Buddhist people were looking for and found in here.
In the afternoon we travel few kilometers outside the city: there still are little villages of people that live inside caves carved in the rocks. It looks like time here has stopped and human evolution and technology never took place. Not that far away from here, another village lives in the memory of screams and moaning: we are in the so called “screaming city”, a city burned to the ground whose population was slaughtered under the order of Genghis Khan, after his nephew was allegedly wounded.
We had the chance to interview one of the people that lived in Bamyan when the Taliban invaded the village, and got captured, imprisoned and with a small group of friends was forced to put explosive inside the Buddhas. Despite being a Muslim he told us what happened with sadness and bitterness for the horror suffered and shame for having destroyed what his ancestor had build and believed in.
It’s with this horrific memories that we go back to the hotel.. Tomorrow we are back in Kabul.