Abdul Wahed, a Taliban commander operating in the area, announced his intention to blow up the Buddhas in 1997, even before he had taken control of the valley.Once he was in control of Bamiyan in 1998, Wahed drilled holes in the Buddhas' heads for explosives.The Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar explained why he ordered the statues to be destroyed in an interview: I did not want to destroy the Bamiyan Buddha. Had they come for humanitarian work, I would have never ordered the Buddha's destruction.In fact, some foreigners came to me and said they would like to conduct the repair work of the Bamiyan Buddha that had been slightly damaged due to rains. I thought, these callous people have no regard for thousands of living human beings - the Afghans who are dying of hunger, but they are so concerned about non-living objects like the Buddha. Information and Culture Minister Qadratullah Jamal told Associated Press of a decision by 400 religious clerics from across Afghanistan declaring the Buddhist statues against the tenets of Islam.Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.Bamiyan lies on the Silk Road, which runs through the Hindu Kush mountain region, in the Bamiyan Valley.It was a Buddhist religious site from the 2nd century up to the time of the Islamic invasion in the later half of the 7th century.Until it was completely conquered by the Muslim Saffarids in the 9th century, Bamiyan shared the culture of Gandhara.
Rows of holes that can be seen in photographs were spaces that held wooden pegs that stabilized the outer stucco.
The two most prominent statues were the giant standing sculptures of Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni, identified by the different mudras performed.
The Buddha popularly called "Solsol" measured 53 meters tall, and "Shahmama" 35 meters—the niches in which the figures stood are 58 and 38 meters respectively from bottom to top. 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.
The Silk Road has been historically a caravan route linking the markets of China with those of the Western world.
It was the site of several Buddhist monasteries, and a thriving center for religion, philosophy, and art.