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Taliban destroyed ancient Buddha statues, now charging tourists $5 to gaze at ’empty holes’

Taliban fighters are welcoming intrepid visitors to the ancient Bamiyan Buddha statues, which the terrorist organization blew up two decades ago, fresh after their takeover of Afghanistan. The Bamiyan Buddhas were carved out of a rocky cliffside in Bamyan Valley in central Afghanistan during the sixth century AD. Over 1,400 years ago, they stood 180 feet tall until the Taliban blew them up with heavy explosives in 2001. The Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan came to an end with the US invasion.

Based on carbon dating of the Buddhas’ structural components, the smaller 38 m (125 feet) ‘Eastern Buddha’ was built around 570 AD, while the larger 55 m (180 feet) ‘Western Buddha’ was built around 618 AD. Along the Silk Road, an ancient trade route between China and Europe, this location served as a Buddhist pilgrimage site.

The place is open to the public now that the Taliban have retaken control. According to an article published by NBC News last week, interested travelers can pay the Taliban guards $5 at a ticket counter. They can gaze at the empty spaces where the Buddha statues once stood. When the Taliban announced their plan to demolish the sculptures in 2001, they came under international pressure to preserve them.

However, the extremists destroyed the monuments using large explosives, claiming that they were anti-Islamic. Since retaking control of the country a few months ago, the Taliban have attempted to present a more moderate face to the world. The hard-line Islamic group is under pressure to preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage as it navigates the economic and security hurdles of managing the country after years of war.


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