It was a Buddhist religious site from the 2nd century up to the time of the Islamic invasion in the 9th century.

Despite the fact that most Afghans are now Muslim, they too had embraced their past and many were appalled by the destruction.

The enormous statues, the male Salsal ("light shines through the universe") and the (smaller) female Shamama ("Queen Mother"), as they were called by the locals, did not fail to fire the imagination of Islamic writers in centuries past.

Before being blown up in 2001 they were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world.

Since then the Spring Temple Buddha has been built in China, and at 128 m (420 ft) it is the tallest statue in the world.

Until the 11th century, Bamiyan was part of the kingdom of Gandhara.

It was the site of several Buddhist monasteries, and a thriving center for religion, philosophy, and Indian art.International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas, which was viewed as an example of the intolerance of the Taliban.Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.Coordinates: 34°49′55.35″N 67°49′36.49″E / 34.8320417°N 67.8268028°E / 34.8320417; 67.8268028The Buddhas of Bamiyan (Persian: تندیس‌های باميان – tandīs hāy-e Bāmiyān) were two monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated 230 km (143 miles) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 ft).Although Buddhism first arrived to Afghanistan around the 3rd century BC, when Seleucus Nicator gave control of the region to Chandragupta Maurya (Sandrocottus) upon terms of intermarriage and of receiving in exchange 500 elephants (Strabo 64 BC–24 AD), there is no evidence when these giant Buddha statues were built.Many of these monks embellished their caves with religious statuary and elaborate, brightly colored frescoes.