02 August, 2021

Bodhi's Third Avatar

Archaeologists believe they have found the site of a giant reclining Buddha at Bamiyan

Aunohita Mojumdar
Bodhi's Third Avatar
Five years ago, this wide, green valley surrounded by towering cliffs in the heart of Afghanistan was the country's Ground Zero. This was where the giant Buddhas carved into the cliff face were blown up by the Taliban, just six months before 9/11. Today, new hope and excitement grips Bamiyan as a team of archaeologists believes it has found the site of a third giant Buddha which may still be intact, buried out of sight for centuries.

The third Buddha was described in detail by the Chinese monk Hiuen Tsang, who visited Bamiyan on his way to India in 630 AD. The monk's record of his travels is the first documented account of Bamiyan and its Buddhas. He describes not only the standing images (destroyed in 2001) but also a much larger reclining Buddha which he saw in a thriving monastery in the valley. The man was not given to flights of fantasy—his records are so precise they have often helped archaeologists in their quest to uncover the past. About Bamiyan, he wrote of "a reclining figure of the Buddha about to enter Nirvana, more than one...

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