By: Connie Cao
Twenty years ago, the Bamian Buddha in Afghanistan was blown up by the Taliban, leaving a 125-foot-deep hole in a cliff. As of 2023, it's being used as an archeological site where tourists are charged per visit.
It was in 2001 that the Bamian Buddha fell to ruins. The attack was led by Taliban founder Mohammad Omar, who said Buddhas were false gods and should be destroyed. He ordered Taliban forces to demolish it with explosives and antiaircraft guns.
The attack on this precious monument stunned the Afghanistan community. This led them to see the Taliban as terrorists, but now the word “terrorist” has been crossed out.
Now, authorities have set up a ticket office underneath the prominent figures. They charge $3.45 to foreigners and 58 cents for Afghanistan. Despite the cost not being so significantly high, the site still receives few customers due to armed guards sitting nearby.
As visitors toured the site on a recent spring day, some complained about the company of the guards.
“The Taliban have a mentality from 500 years ago,” said a 27-year-old man visiting from Iran. “They’re mentally not capable of making use of this place.”
Although the customers are not enjoying their visit of the site, the Taliban certainly are.
Saifurahham Mohammadi is the information and culture director for the regional Taliban government. He says that this area is becoming a high source of income, and it can further improve the lives of the citizens of Bamian.
Bamian has long been one of the poorest regions in one of the world's least developed countries. The population tries to ease its living on coal mining and subsistence farming. “These archaeological sites could massively improve people’s lives here,” Mohammadi said.