Nowadays, my laptop’s wallpaper shows a very peaceful and serene face. It is a close-up photograph of one of the Bamyan Buddha. This photograph was clicked by a friend of my friend. He had gone to Bamiyan to see the huge Buddha statues… just shortly before they were destroyed. Bamiyan used to be famous for these statues.
And now, Bamiyan is famous for what it has lost. Today’s photograph is that of a very unfortunate event. The destruction of Bamiyan Buddha.
There used to be two massive statues of Gautama Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The larger one (Buddha standing in Vairocana mudra) was 55 meters high and the smaller one (Buddha standing in Sakyamuni mudra) was 37 meters high. These were the largest standing Buddha in the world; carved on a cliffside in the Bamiyan valley of Afghanistan.
Owing to madness of the Taliban; we now have to refer to these magnificent statues in the past tense.
These statues were believed to be carved during the Kushana period under the guidance of the local Buddhist monks. The smaller statue was built in 507 and the larger one in 554. UNESCO had declared them to be the World Heritage. But that could not save them from being destroyed by the Taliban.
Clerics in Afghanistan found these statues to be the “idols” and therefore against the tenets of Islam. Although, in 1999, Mullah Mohammed Omar had said that the Taliban would protect the statues because these were a source of income for Afghanistan as lots of tourists arrive to see them. But in 2001 the Taliban government decided to destroy the statues. At that time the Indian government offered to arrange the transfer of these statues and other artifacts to India where they would be kept safe as cultural heritage. The Taliban, unfortunately, turned down the offer.
On 2 March 2001, the Taliban began to fire at the statues with the anti-aircraft guns. You can imagine the size of these statue by the fact that this attack continued for several days but could not bring the statues down. Then the Taliban placed anti-tank mines in the holes on statues caused by the gun fire. These blasts destroyed the statues of the man who preached peace.
On 6 March 2001 The Times quoted Mullah Mohammed Omar as stating, “Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them.”
Did you know?
- Mohammed Nadir Shah who ruled from 1880-1933 fired a cannon at the two statues but other than that the statues had been left untouched until 2001
- Japan and Switzerland has offered to rebuild the statues
- Once upon a time the bigger statue was painted red and the smaller one was painted in multiple colors. With time these colors were worn off.
Following a small video documentary about the destruction of these Buddha statues:
What do you think of this photograph and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring stories on more iconic photographs for you.