Bamiyan's place in Afghan history begins with the emergence of the Kushan empire in the 1st century AD. As a halfway point between Balkh and the Kushan capital at Kapisa (near modern Bagram, see pl09), it grew rich from the trade along the Silk Road between Rome and the Han Chinese.

The nomadic Kushans quickly took to Buddhism and were instrumental in fusing

Eastern art with the Hellenistic tradition left by the Greeks. This Graeco-Buddhic art flowered in Bamiyan, which quickly became a major centre of culture and religion where monasteries flourished.

Kushan power waned, but Bamiyan remained a cultural centre. Another wave of invaders, the White Huns, were assimilated in the 4th century and went on to create two giant statues of Buddha, carved out of the sandstone cliffs of the valley walls, bedecked with jewels and gilt. Bamiyan became one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world.

Events in the east threatened Bamiyan's pre-eminence and in the 7th century, Afghanistan felt the eastward thrust of Islam.

High in the mountains, Bamiyan clung on to its Buddhist traditions for another 400 years, until the ascendant Ghaznavids finally brought Islam to the valley for good.

A series of smaller dynasties held sway over Bamiyan until the beginning of the 13th century. The Shansabani kings briefly made the valley the capital of a realm stretching as far north as Balkh and Bada-khshan, until they were swept away in the Mongol tidal wave in 1222.

Genghis Khan initially sent his favourite grandson to deal with the Shansabani kings and they responded by slaying the young general. As revenge, Genghis sent his warriors to storm the citadels. Every living thing in the valley was slaughtered.

To Darya Ajdahar (5km)

Bamiyan AirStrip

INFORMATION Afghan Tourist

Organisation (see 10)

Bamiyan Business Centre 1 D2

Director of Information &

Culture (see 6)

Kabul Exchange/Western

Union 2 C2

Moneychangers 3 C2

Police 4 B2

Post Office (see 3)


Billboard of Ali Mazari 5 B2

Large Buddha Niche 6 A1

Shahr-e Gholghola 7 D3

Small Buddha Niche 8 B1

Bamika Hotel 9 A4

Bamiyan Hotel 10 B2

Mama Najaf 11 C2

Marco Polo Hotel 12 C2

Roof of Bamiyan Hotel 13 B2

Zohak Hotel 14 C2


Bakery 15 C2

Chaikhana 16 C2

Fruit & Vegetable Market.. .17 C2

Ghulghula Hotel 18 C2

Kabul Restauarant 19 C2

Sakhi Restaurant 20 C2


Minibus stand 21 C2

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