This was certainly a holiday with a difference. Bamyan and its hinterland is a fantastic mix of the old (a rich architectural tapestry in the heart of this Hindu Kush region) and the new (modern farming methods apparently influenced by New Zealand). I am told the time to visit is from about May to September otherwise the beautiful landscape takes on something akin to a barren wilderness. I have uploaded various photographs to give the reader a view of this area but sadly my camera mal-functioned part way through my trip so one of the photographs (the Budha site) was given to me by a friend.
I am told thousands of tourists flocked to this area in the 1960s but sadly there was little evidence of many foreign tourists the few days I was around. As this area is sacred in Buddhism I guess many of the tourists were pilgrims. There is fantastic potential for tourism in the area but I saw the landing strip and it is only gravel with frequent unmanned crossing points for locals. It seems there is some plan by the ambitious female Governor to attract Japanese funding to make a proper runway. This will be essential if tourism in the area is to flourish.
Other reviews have alluded to the destruction of the Budhas by Taliban extremists over ten years ago which is really tragic but the site is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. Oddly enough the fantastic road in my photographs stops short of this site leaving a very rough, dusty track. That surely has to change and I am told will do so soon. I have included photographs of the Red City remains not far from Bamyan. There is spectacular scenery there and for those with stamina and good joints an opportunity to climb the mountain. There is a fantastic restaurant and garden area (including a children’s play-park beside this). At the top is the remains of what I guess must be an old Russian gun emplacement.
There are a number of hotels in the area but I did not visit any so cannot comment.
Agriculture with foreign aid is well developed as indicated in the photographs.
I did not feel frightened or in any way intimidated whilst walking through the City. The people (mainly hazaras) were friendly and a lot of the women did not wear the traditional burka.
I also visited the Dragon Valley just outside Bamyan. It was not as pleasant as one had to drive through what seemed poor villages. Local legend suggests the Dragon was rather too fond of village maidens who were sacrificed to it so a local man fought the dragon and cut it in two. The dragon now spews out tears of repentance down the mountainside leaving sulphur like staining (see photographs). A grand tale; the stuff of legends.
My trip to Bamyan was certainly different and one that will live long in the memory.
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