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Bamyan’s historical fort on verge of destruction

Bamyan’s historical fort on verge of destruction

Mar 31, 2012 - 09:01

BAMYAN CITY (PANinfo-icon): The priceless ancient architecture of the Chehel Burj (a historical fort with 40 towers), formerly used as a military complex, is on the verge of being lost, but local and foreign archeologists remain silent on the issue.

The second and 5th century historical marvels -- dotting the checkered landscape of central Bamyan province -- have been a major haunt for foreign tourists. However, the monuments have been in a state of neglect in recent years.

“A delegation from the Ministry of Information and Cultural visited the area last year to survey the site and took pictures to launch protection and reconstructioninfo-icon work, but no steps have been taken so far,” Abdul Hamid Jalya, Bamyan’s head of historical artifacts, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

The ancient military complex is located on a hilltop in the Yakawlang district near Band-i-Amir -- Afghanistaninfo-icon’s first-ever national park, in the western part of the province, surrounded by towers.

One of the historical buildings and a stronghold of Kushans, who ruled Afghanistan in the 2nd and 5th centuries respectively, the Chehel Burj Fort is unique in its architecture.

The conical structures were 20 metres in height, with their ruins indicating that the area had once been an important place. The fort and its towers are made of stone. Its upper part is made of mud, built in the pre-Islamic period -- possibly between 2nd and 5th centuries.

Based on studies, the fort was surrounded by more than 300 towers. But most of the structure stands destroyed -- thanks to natural disasters. However, 34 of the towers are still partially intact but could collapse, if not repaired.

Jalya said there was a stadium near the palace, presumably used to host parties, festival celebrations, sportsinfo-icon events and military trainings.

He said the stadium was covered with walls that had been destroyed over the years, adding that the hills on which the fort is located was 120 meters high from the ground and adjacent to the river flowing in the area.  

“All the historical sites will be destroyed due to natural disaster menace, if the government does not take possible measures over the issue that are the national treasuries of the country,” he said.

Jalya urged relevant officials to deploy security personnel to safeguard the site because local people were unaware the importance of this historical site. Large excavations had been carried out along the hills during the past wars and even the walls sawed off and stolen by smugglers.

Haidar Ali Ahmadi, a resident of Yakawlang district and member of the provincial council, said if the government paid attention to rebuilding the fort, it could be an important source of income for the citizens of Bamyan.    

He said “The road leading to the area is yet to be paved and there are no facilities, hotels or guest houses for tourists, but hundreds of foreigners still visit the site in summers.”  

Ahmadi said the priceless artifacts and the historical sites, that depict the long history and culture of the country, should be showcased to the worldinfo-icon and encourage tourists to visit these archeological sites.

However, Abdul Ahad Abas, head of Afghanistan historical artifacts at the Ministry of Culture and Information, said an agreement for financial support to rebuild the country’s historical sites was signed between the ministry and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which would also cover the Chehel Burj fort.  

Bamyan has several famous historical sites, including the twin Buddha statues with more than 3,000 caves around it, the Band-i-Amir, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran are the most ancient and important sites that need to be restored and protected.


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