Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders are charging visitors admission to the country’s most famous monument, even though the Taliban destroyed it years ago.
For hundreds of years, two monumental 6th-century Buddha statues of him stood proudly in the city of Bamiyan.
The capital city of Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan. The statue was carved into the side of the cliff.
The larger one is called ‘Sar Sar’, which means ‘the light that illuminates the universe’, and the smaller one is called ‘Sharmama’ or ‘Queen Mother’.
These were incredible sights, but in 2001 the Taliban knocked down the statues in an attack orchestrated by then-Taliban founder Mohammad Omar.
Omar declared the Buddha to be a false god, detonating explosives at the fighters and firing guns at a huge Buddha statue.
More than two decades later, current members of the Taliban have admitted that destroying the Buddha was a mistake.
According to a Washington Post report, 44-year-old Taliban soldier Qeyal Mohammad said, “This is our identity. It should not have been bombed.” we are no more. But that doesn’t stop the Taliban from using them.
After the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in his 2021, he set up a checkout at the base of where Sar-Sal stood.
The office asks visitors to view the statue. The price is 58 cents for Afghans and $3.45 for foreigners.
There is also an ice cream shop nearby, which is also guarded by armed guards. The area also has the main hotel surrounded by barbed wire and a painting of Buddha before it was destroyed.
To attract more tourists, Saihraman Mohammadi, head of information and culture at the local Taliban government, announced plans to open a souvenir market nearby.
The Taliban’s deputy culture minister, Attiqullah Azizi, said in an interview that more than 1,000 security guards have been deployed to protect the country’s cultural heritage, both by restricting access to certain areas and by monitoring ticket sales. rice field.
“Bamiyan and Buddha are very important especially for our government and for the world,” Azizi said.
However, not everyone agreed with the return of visitors to the Buddha, with Bamian Governor Abdullah Sarhadi arguing: Prime Minister Salhadi also backed the order to destroy the Buddha, saying it was a “good decision”.