I almost booked a flight to Kabul a few years ago to have a look around the country. It’s seemingly full of sights and cultural delights and as well as being on the Silk Route it has the only direct road into Pakistan from Europe. Sadly my pipe dreams of travelling up the Khyber Pass were cut short by the killing of some unfortunate Norwegians in the capital and the blowing up of the Bamiyan Buddha’s in 2001 by the Taliban.
On the cliff face of a mountain near Bamiyan stood three colossal statues.
One of them was a 175 feet (53 m) high standing statue of the Buddha, the world’s tallest seemingly and carved during the Kushan period in the fifth century.
The statues were destroyed by the Taliban in a very public demonstration during March 2001 on the grounds that they were an affront to Islam. Efforts have been made by French archaeologists and locals to rebuild them with negligible success since there is nothing much left apart from a pile of stones at the foot of the caves the images once stood in.
Today I visited a castle in NE Scotland with a pal and was amazed to find this Buddha on private display. Its 175ft above the ground and behind glass and only 4ft high but is seemingly first century AD and from Afghanistan, predating the Bamiyan statues by some 400 years according to the castle’s now deceased owner.
In common with many museums and visitor centres around the world photography was strictly banned so, erm, it’s a fairly crap image which I had to snatch in a real hurry. The wall is in focus though and I hope that Captain Hay of Dalgattie Castle was not a victim to those tourist scams which we all hear so much about.
I have to say also that the castle is well worth a visit should you be in the area.
It’s full of delightful surprises plus there is a really wonderful tearoom with cakes to die for!