Yousaf and Waseem could travel to Bamiyan only, as the road to Band e Ameer was not yet cleared from mines. Afghanistan at that time was the country with most mines laid out during the Soviet occupation period. At Bamiyan, they spent the night at Mama hotel (Chai Khana) the only place to stay. On the ground floor was the dining area and the first floor was used as a sleeping place for the visitors, which were very few at that time.
Bamiyan is the biggest town of Hazarajat, about 225 km North-East of Kabul and the gateway to the Central Route from Kabul to Herat. It is known for its twin statues of Buddha carved in rocky hills facing the town during the 6th Cent. It is the Westernmost expansion of Buddhist Art, Gandhara. The adjacent caves which served as dwellings of the Buddhist priests were home to the oldest oil paintings, now ruined by the returning refugees staying there and making fire and smoke inside.
Bamiyan Bazar was burned down by the Taliban soon after they took over the city, however, this was not the first time it happened. Mama hotel was among the few shops built after the Taliban were defeated and left the valley. Destroyed tanks, Armored personal carriers, and other military equipment were scattered around the town and had become part of Landscape. The hill where the half-demolished hotel of ATO (Afghan Tourist Organization) stood was the main graveyard of the broken military hardware. It used to be exclusively scenic site before the war with green fields and the twin Buddha statues on the other end.
Blog by: Amir Khalid