In the 500's the area of Bamiyan was a Buddhist Monestary where two huge Buddha statues were carved. As you can see in the photo on top of my blog the area is full of caves where generations of people lived. Also, in some of the caves, are ancient carvings and paintings showing Buddhist artwork.
The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang passed through the area around 630, and described Bamiyan as a flourishing Buddhist center "with more than ten monasteries and more than a thousand monks". He also noted that both Buddha figures were "decorated with gold and fine jewels" (Wriggins, 1995). Intriguingly, Xuanzang mentions a third, even larger, reclining statue of the Buddha. (from Wikipedia)
Up until 1979 (before the wars) Bamiyan was a tourist area with people coming from all over the world to see the Buddhas.
However, the Taliban invaded the Bamiyan area, forcing many of the residents out, and in 2001 blew up the statues.
Now this is what it looks like today.
The government has pledge to rebuild the statues and for a few years I thought that sounded like a great idea. However I was watching a video clip about Bamiyan today and an Afghan pointed out that if the statues are rebuilt then the whole thing will end up looking like Disneyland. I think I agree with that person's opinion.
Here's two videos that I found interesting:
Bamiyan Buddhas part 1
Bamiyan Buddhas part 2
Update as of May 18, 2012:
Stone Carvers return to the Bamiyan Valley (May 2012)