A Short Guide to Bamiyan


This booklet is a brief guide to the Bamiyan Valley and the surrounding archaeological sites in central Afghanistan, published in the 1950s by the Historical Society of Afghanistan. For centuries, the valley was famous for its two Giant Buddhas, carved into cliffs in the fourth and fifth centuries, where they stood until the Taliban destroyed them in 2001. The guide begins with a brief description of the road from Kabul to Bamiyan, some 240 kilometers to the northwest. It offers in short sections information on the geography and history of the valley, which served for centuries as a Buddhist pilgrimage center and a commercial crossroads between China, India, Persia, and the Roman Empire on the southern branch of the Silk Road. The booklet gives early accounts by Chinese monks and travelers who visited Bamiyan in the seventh and eighth centuries. A few sections describe the two colossal statues, giving details about the murals and paintings on the niches and about the ancient grottoes that were once monasteries. The final sections are dedicated to other sites of interest, such as one in the nearby valley of Kakrak, where a smaller Buddha and other grottoes also exist. Images of the statues and the murals illustrate the guide, separating the English version from a French account that shares some of the same information, but focuses on the dynasties that ruled in Bamiyan before and after Islam. The author, Ahmad Ali Kuhzad (1907–83), was curator of the Kabul Museum and the first president of the Anjoman-e Tarik-e Afganestan (Historical Society of Afghanistan). The society was founded in Kabul in 1942. Its mission was to promote the history of Afghanistan through research, scholarship, and publication.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Government Central Press, Kabul

Title in Original Language

A short guide to Bamiyan

Type of Item

Physical Description

12 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 27 centimeters


  • Historical Society of Afghanistan, number 36


  1. Christine Noelle-Karimi, “Historiography xi. Afghanistan,.” in Encyclopaedia Iranica. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/historiography-xi.

Last updated: August 31, 2017