Tourist Attractions in Bamyan, Afghanistan
Afghanistan is well known for its insecurity and turbulent political environment, but it has many beautiful aspects which always been hidden from the world. Bamyan province is one of Afghanistan’s hidden aspects. With amazing landscapes and historical background, it’s less discovered tourist destination. From the time when Buddhist traders chose Bamyan to build their temples and the time when Mongols destroyed it and finally when Afghans declared it as their first national park, it was always in the center of focus because of its natural beauty.
About Bamyan Province
Bamyan province is located in the central part of Afghanistan, approximately 240 kilometers northwest of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Though the province is not too much developed, with a local airport and modern hotels, this is the best place for tourist in Afghanistan.
Nature and history of Bamyan make it the heart of Afghanistan’s tourist destination. Many people come to Bamyan to see the historical monument and enjoy the nature of the province. The province was one of the major points of Buddhist expansion in history, that is why there are many Buddhists related ancient monuments in this area. Also, the weather and lakes in the area make it a perfect destination for summer vacation.
Traveling to Bamyan
The best way to reach to Bamyan is by a plane. However, Bamyan doesn't have any International airport, but it has a local airport so you can travel directly from Kabul's international ariport to Bamyan.
For moving inside Bamyan it's better to use a taxi because other types of public transportation are not yet well developed in the city, but it will not cost you too much.
Bamyan province has three main tourist attractions Band-e Amir National Park, Buddhas, of Bamyan and Koh-i-Baba Mountains. Other places like Shahr-e Ghulghula (a city destroyed by Genghis Khan), and a tour of local people's culture can be more fun for you.
Band-e Amir National Park
Band-e Amir is Afghanistan's first national park. It is a series of six blue lakes separated by natural dams. It is one of the rare natural lakes in the world which is created by travertine system.
In 2004, Band-e Amir was submitted for recognition as a World Heritage site. In 2009, Band-e Amir was finally declared Afghanistan's first national park. As of 2013, about 6,000 local tourists visit the Band-e Amir National Park every year.
Band-e Amir consists of six lakes:
- Band-e Gholaman (Lake of the slaves)
- Band-e Qambar (Lake of Caliph Ali's slave)
- Band-e Haibat (Lake of grandiose)
- Band-e Panir (Lake of cheese)
- Band-e Pudina (Lake of wild mint)
- Band-e Zulfiqar (Lake of the sword of Ali)
The deepest one is Band-e Haibat with an average depth of approximately 150 meters.
Band-e Amir is late summer tourist destination because during winter the temperature can reach to the lowest level of -20 centigrades.
Some people call Band Amir national park, Afghanistan's Grand Canyon.
View of Band Amir, Bamian
Walking along the lakes and watching the view of lakes makes the mind of any viewer peaceful. The lakes look like blue marbles in meddle of the desert like place, far away from large cities with no pollution or disturbing noises can make the mind of any calm and peaceful.
Raiding a pedal boat in these lakes can be more fun, as the water is clean so you will be able to clearly see underwater and marine life.
Buddhas of Bamyan
Buddhas of Bamyan were the 4th-5th-century statues of standing Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in valley of Bamyan. In 2001 the statues were destroyed by Taliban, However, the place still shows the amazing work of Buddhists in the 5th century.
Before distraction there were two statues of standing Buddha, the tallest one was called Solsol with 53 meters high and smallest one called Shahmama with 35 meters high. Solsol was the tallest standing Buddha in the world before destruction.
Though the statues are completely destroyed, their outline and features are still recognizable which shows the turbulent past of these Buddha statues.
After the destruction of the Buddhas, 50 caves were revealed. In 12 of the caves, wall paintings were discovered. After some researches, it was found that the paintings were painted between 5th and 9th Century. It is believed that the paintings were done by artists traveling on the Silk Road, the trade route between China and the West. These paintings are the world's first oil paintings in the world.
Skiing at Koh-i Baba Mountains
The Baba Mountain is the western extension of the Hindu Kush. The mountain range is crowned by Foladi peak (Shah Fuladi, 34°38′43″N 67°37′27″E) rising 4951 meters (16,244 ft) above sea level, and is located south of Bamyan, Afghanistan. The mountain is the best place for skiing in the province.
In 2008 an $1.2 million project to encourage skiing was launched by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) with the help of NZAID, New Zealand government’s international aid agency to improve tourist attraction in and conduct ski games at the area. The province hosts the Afghan Ski Challenge, a 7 km downhill race over the ungroomed and powdered snow, founded by Swiss journalist and skier Christoph Zurcher. Tissot, the Swiss watch manufacturer, is the principal sponsor.
So if you are a winter sports lover then you should go to Koh-i Baba mountains, where many of tourists and locals come to play ski. These mountains have snow for most of the year but between January and April is a good time for playing ski.Every winter there are ski competition programs where local and foreigner comes to play ski to this area. The level of these competitive programs grows every year and new participants are joining the program
Every winter there are ski competition programs where local and foreigner comes to play ski in this area. The level of these competitive programs grows every year and new participants are joining the program.
About People and Culture in Bamyan
People of Bamyan are mostly Hazara. Other ethnic groups like Tajiks and Pashtuns also live in this province, but their population is less compared to Hazara ethnic group in this area. They talk in Dari Hazaragi language which is a dialect of Dari language.
Hazara women make beautiful handicrafts like carpets, handmade traditional clothes and other types of handicrafts, which is popular by the name of Hazaragi Handicrafts. You can find many of these handicrafts in local markets.
Like any other Afghans, they celebrate three festivals, Nowruz Festival (New Year's Day in the Persian calendar) And also two Islamic Eid festivals every year. Each of these festivals has their public celebrations and families gathering along with delicious Afghani foods.
Best Time to Visit Bamyan
Because Bamyan has cold weather it's good to visit Bamyan during summer time. Best time to visit Bamyan starts from April and ends in September, however, the region has its own beauty in every season of year.
However, instability and insecurity hide many beautiful aspects of Afghanistan, but this could be the time to discover Afghanistan in a new way.