Being with Buddha

Photo essay: Nowruz trip to Bamiyan, Afghanistan

by Princess
I am back in Kabul. After my relatively short trip to this country last Autumn I spent some time trying to figure out a way to come back for a longer period. On Friday night before my departure to Kabul I received an e-mail from a couple of colleagues saying that they were planning a Nowruz trip to Bamiyan. They asked if I wanted to join them. What a question! Of course I was. Bamiyan is a Hazara town and has witnessed much bloodshed in its long history. Yet, the place seems to maintain a deep sense of peace. We had a wonderful time visiting the archaeological sites of the Bamiyan Buddhas, mountain walking in the Kohe Baba, visiting the ruins of a town called Zahak and chatting with the local over cups and cups of green tea. It was inspiring to see how despite its extremely harsh history it’s people remain so genuine, hospitable and kind. I hope to find time to blog about this unforgettable experience, but it the meantime here are some photos from my trip -- with captions. I hope you enjoy them.

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by Princess on

Thank you, Gavazn!

Goldilocks, thank you for your comment and kind words. You can always contact me through the contact button on my page on Iraniandotcom.

Best, P.  




by Goldilocks on

Hi Princess,

Great post on Bamiyan! I'm so glad you went. I would like to know if there is a way I can get in touch with you through email. I will be in Kabul in the summer inshallah and would love to connect with you, if possible. Sending you good energy!



Great pictures. Thanks.

by Gavazn on

Great pictures. Thanks.


Thank you!

by Princess on

Thank you all for your very kind comments. It means a lot to me, especially coming from some of my favourite contributors to this site. 

A few responses:

Obama, I am in one of the photos, if you look closely

Yolanda, The pics came with their captions.

Ramin, They are planning to start the reconstructions of the Buddha's this year. At least that is what we were told.

Benross, JJ got here before me, but what gave you the idea that i would have a bottle of vodka in one hand and a camera in the other? I need both hands for the bottle.  

I had a great time in Bamiyan and continue to be touched by the wonderful people of Afghanistan as I am settling down. I look forward to the next 12+ months and hope to share more of my experience with you. I hope one day this country is safe enough so that people from around the world can bear first-hand witness of the generosity and hospitality of these people.

Warm greetings from a sunny and flowering Kabul! 


Brian Appleton

That's because industrialization and consumerism

by Brian Appleton on

haven't destroyed them yet...I remember when I was in Bamiyan in 1976, I felt like it was the most otherworldly place I had ever been...there was only one sound of civilization and that was a half horse power pump donated by Unesco for could hear the little motor for miles around...the minibus that dropped us off came only once a week...we stayed in that guest house dug into the ground with earth floors and walls with carpets on them and all the guests sat together around a table trading stories of our travels...none of us had ever met before....there was a bonding and one of the guests was an Afghan archeologist who was looking for a reclining Buddha statue which was supposed to be 700 feet long somewhere on top of the ridge. I remember going up there and leaping from the top of one butte to the next and it felt like we were on top of the world...or another planet like Mars...I remember riding the minibus there and falling asleep only to feel something as soft as butterflies touching my arm...I squinted through my sleepy eyes and saw a father and his little son touching the red hair on my arm presumably to see if I was real...I went on feigning sleep because I didn't want to startle them...the Afghans were so kind, everywhere we went they gave us presents and kindness and refused to take money in payment for things like Lapis Lazuli...and the bus would stop and everyone would get out and pray along the side of the road on their little prayer rugs...


Brian H. Appleton


Rasool Aryadust


Thank you Princess

by Sargashteh on

 I am so jealous of you. I wish I had the time to go on an adventureous  trip like that. Just a few days ago I watched a documentary called "Afghan Star". It is about a talent show in Afghanistan much like our very own "American Idol". It was both hilarious and touching, I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Afghanistan and humanity. I downloaded it from here:


Good luck princess and write more for us.

Iraneh Azad

Very Nice

by Iraneh Azad on

Great pictures. Thanks.


Oh yes. The internet speed.

by benross on

Oh yes. The internet speed. I didn't think about that. I have email communication with someone in Kabul and am aware of the situation but I guess I was fixated with the image of Princess with a bottle of vodka on one hand and a camera on the other!

Thanks JJ. Looking forward for your story Princess. 

Jahanshah Javid

Slow connection

by Jahanshah Javid on

Benroos, most of the photos were in small size and I had to enlarge them. The result was not ideal, but the best that could be done under the circumstances. She was unable to email them in larger sizes because of the slow internet connection in Kabul.


I wish you could quit

by benross on

I wish you could quit drinking alcohol. It makes for steadier hands and sharper pictures... unless they were all blurred in JJ editing room. In which case I should day JJ, I wish you could quit drinking alcohol....:)


Very nice pix! They should/can rebuild the Buddas

by Anonymouse on

I think they should spend some money (that they don't have) and rebuild the buddas, it is worthed and can attract tourists and some revenue and a new sense of pride.

By the way was Reza the driver in My Life in Ruins?! Just kidding! 

Everything is sacred.


Thanks Princess

by divaneh on

I thoroughly enjoyed the photos and the foot notes. Pity to see so much destruction on such beautiful heritage.

hamsade ghadimi

thanks for the photo essay,

by hamsade ghadimi on

thanks for the photo essay, princess.  i thoroughly enjoyed it.


Thanks princess

by ramintork on

A journey of a life time I think. Why is it that some of the most beautiful places on Earth happen to be some of the most impoverished?

Have they done the laser light Buddah project that they were going to do?

You know the one where they used laser to recreate the Buddah images.

Brian Appleton

I stood on the former Buddha statue's head in 1976

by Brian Appleton on

 See my article in at:



Brian H. Appleton


Rasool Aryadust



by yolanda on

Hi Princess,

    Thank you for telling your stories thru pictures. I enjoyed reading all the captions and looking at each picture. It is so sad that Tabilan destroyed 2000 year old Buddha; world lost a piece of historical wonder! I agree with you that it is not necessary to stay in an expensive Western style of hotel in is great to experience the local culture and custom. Question: Did you submit all 80 pictures in one e-mail and send the captions separately? Or you submitted one picture with captions in one e-mail message. I believe that it is very important to match the photo with the captions correctly, right? I plan to submit 2 photo essays....I have one set of photos already.

The video shows there was a secret tunnel to go all the way to the top of the buddha statue when the statue was around. 



Princess, where were you in the photos?I saw no princess or shah

by obama on

i guess you are like mehdi! I truly enjoyed the photos! Much appreciated! I find it much easier watching them here than traveling there. I don't think i can sleep in those 7 star hotels, just the thought of it makes body itch! I would love the challene of drivin and walking, but the hotel?


What's ironic about what the Taliban did in Bamiyan

by Onlyiran on

is that if you look at Islamic history, there is absolutely no evidence of Muslims at the time of Islam's expansion, destroying statutes and other human likenesses which is the excuse that the Taliban used for destroying these historical monuments.  If one looks at Egypt, Persia and other places that were invaded by Muslims, one can see that Muslim invaders left thousands of statutes intact when they invaded those lands.  


Thanks for sharing these

by bambi on

Thanks for sharing these photos and providing such informative, engaging  captions... almost as being there.    I love this and your previous photo blogs, and travlogues on Afghanistan.

This photo is totally cute!...  those ears!



Jahanshah Javid

What remains

by Jahanshah Javid on

Zara, I know what the Taliban did in Bamiyan. What I meant was preserving and protecting whatever remains after the destruction of the Buddhas in 2001.


Hello??? Preserved and protected?

by Zara on

Jahanshah, the Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001, and for about 5 minutes the world actually paid attention.  A while back I wrote the story from the viewpoint of a Hazara farmer, it's here:



You Are Lucky!

by Monda on

Now that's one wonderful way to start a new year! I just shared your photo essay with my cousin who worked in Kabul through a health aid organization (medicins sans bords) two and three years ago.  Not only we enjoyed your trip to Bamiyan, I think he may be motivated to post his trips here one day.

Azadeh Azad


by Azadeh Azad on

You are so lucky, Princess jan. Thank you for taking us with you to Bamiyan and its battered Buddhas. So sad and so impressive. Your photos and descriptions are magnificent. Can't wait to read more on your experiences in this beautiful country.



Jahanshah Javid

Ghabool basheh

by Jahanshah Javid on

You are so lucky. There are only a handful of people who can visit Afghanistan, let alone go to Bamiyan and see the magnificent Buddhas. With your wonderful and descriptive photo essay you have taken all of us along for the ride. Thank you!

I hope and pray that these magnificent remains, which are so much a part of the heritage of humanity as a whole, will be preserved and protected from nature's wrath, and more importantly, ourselves.