Afghanistan, The Bamiyan Valley, Showing the large Buddha, circa 5th century. Bamiyan flourished as a centre for trade and religious worship until 1221, when the area was attacked by the armies of Genghis Khan. Two immense figures of Buddha, 55 and 38 metres in height, were hewn out of the rock at Bamiyan. The colossal Buddha images at Bamiyan followed closely the Gandhara ideal and were probably carved by the pilgrims who travelled through the region and whose caves sanctuaries can still be seen cut into the cliffs. The Bamiyan Buddhas have since been destroyed, by the Taliban (March 2001). Photographed in August 2000.