Alireza IBRAHIMI | Fatemeh MORADI| August 25, 2021, 1 pm

Bamyan is one of the cities of Afghanistan that, like many cities of ancient Khorasan, has undergone political, social, cultural, and economic developments. Bamyan is also the cultural center of the Hazara people, whose culture and literature are intertwined with monuments. This city has experienced the presence of glorious civilizations such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and finally Islam. That is why today this city has many historical monuments from different periods; studying these monuments can answer many questions in the cultural and social field of this land and neighbouring territories. Despite this, research studies and historical information about the city are scarce or even non-existent in some cases. Cultural Landscapes such as destroyed Buddha statues, the Shahr-i Zuhak, Ghalghalah city, Kafri castle, and thousands of small and large caves in this land, have made Bamyan world-famous; But due to the lack of social infrastructure and public security, it has not been able to attract foreign tourists. Of the existing monuments, only 15 have been registered as national monuments in the Ministry of Culture and Information; eight of these are in a collection as World Cultural Heritage in the UNESCO has been registered in 2003. Also, there are numbers of the cultural landscape that have not been registered by national or international institutions yet. This post tries to have a closer look at the monuments registered in the World Heritage List for the first time by studying geographical and historical works. In other posts, we will try to explain each of these monuments in more detail.

Fig.1. Bamiyan Cultural Master Plan. UNESCO (Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley). P.7


  • The Great Statue of Buddha (Salsal)

In the western part of the huge rock of Bamiyan, there is a 55-meter statue of Buddha, which is one of the masterpieces of the Greek Buddhist period. This sculpture has been dug inside a portico 24 meters wide at the bottom, 16 meters at the top, and 8 to 9 meters deep (Osmani, Arefi, 2016).

Fig. 2. Every time I visit Bamyan and the broken statue of Buddha, it reminds me of the dark old days and the resilience of Afghans to ignorance. The Buddha is just like us, hurt but strong.
‘’Bamyan buddha’’: Dadfar, Nasim.


The little Buddha statue (Shamamah)

This statue is located on the eastern wall. The people of Bamiyan call it small Buddha or Shahmama. This statue was destroyed by the Taliban regime in 2001 . The statue of the small Buddha is 38 meters high and 16 meters wide and probably dates between the fourth and fifth century AD.

Shahr-i Ghulghulah (Ghulghulah City)

Shahr-i Ghulghulah is one of the most important ancient monuments of this country and part of the world’s cultural heritage. Ghulghola city is 2,000 years old and has been destroyed several times throughout history. Due to its antiquity and charm, this city has been registered in the UNESCO list of monuments since 2012, and the renovation has been started by a German group under the management of ICOMOS.

Fig. 3. One of the local clothes of Bamiyan people. Hussaini, Shigofa.

Kakrak Valley (Buddha of Kakrak)

The Kakrak Valley of Bamiyan is located 5 km southeast of the large Buddha statues. In this historical place, there are caves that have Buddha paintings, using oil paint. There is also a nine-meter statue of the Buddha’s son. The statue was destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 at the same time as other statues.

Shahr-i Zuhak (City of Zuhak)

The Shahr-i Zuhak, also known as the Red City, is a large collection of ruins of historic buildings located on a red hill overlooking a strategic point, at the eastern entrance to the Bamiyan Valley, in the southwestern part of Shash-pol. The Shahr-i Zuhak was once the crossroads of the Old World, and trade routes passed through it in the past, connecting the south to India, the east to Iran, and the north to the Hindu Kush Mountains and the Amu Darya. This trade route was also known as the Silk Road.

Fig. 4. Buddhist place of worship around the Buddha statue. Arwand, Ali Yasser. June 2015.

Qallai Kaphari A and B (Kafari Castle)

Kafari Castle A and Kafari Castle B are the caves of Ghol Akram Valley and the caves of Ghami Castle in Fuladi Valley

Fuladi valley Caves

The Fuladi Valley is located in one of the highest mountains called Fuladi in Bamiyan province. This protected area covers an area of 450 square kilometers, at an altitude (“of” no need) about 3,000 to 5,220 meters above sea level. About 300 species of plants and 100 species of wild animals have been recorded in Fuladi Valley.

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