AFGHANISTAN – 1974 … part three!

After about a week in Kabul, we left and moved on. Our plan was to leave the paved roads and move inland direction Bamian, famous for the two gigantic Buddhas carved into soft rock some 1400 ago and destroyed by the Taliban in two horrible blasts in 2001 – and Band-i-Amir with it’s stunningly beautiful six holy lakes, each one at a different color! It all sounds fairly simple … but what happened on the way will be carved in my memory for the rest of my life.

Coming from Kabul, we had to turn toward west, off-road of course, and our first obstacle were two mountain passes: Unai – and Hajikak pass, belonging to the Sanglakh Range at the elevation of three thousand meters and Hajigak, to the best of of my knowledge, some 4000 meters. One must imagine that usually these kind of excursions are not executed without having a four-wheel drive and so we knew, we could afce serious trouble ahead … but blindly counting on our good luck, we went ahead.

I oparticularily remember at one point – it was on top of the Haji Gak pass – having left the car in order to run some very few meters ahead to try to figure out how to proceed and having been left baffled and breathless by this minor activity. I had not taken into calcuation the sudden increase in elevation which I was not adjusted to …


We finally made it down in one piece (how, I am not sure anymore but we did it) and went on toward what is known as the ruins of the “Red City”, in Farsi Dari “Shar-i-Zohak”, some 17 km (11 miles) to the east of Bamian, and a few miles ahead, located on the opposite side, the “Crying City”which, in the native language, is “Shar-i-Golgolah”. Interestingly enough these ruins are not particularily mentioned anywhere over the net – at least I was unable to find more details. Both cities were said to have been destroyed as well as their entire populations slaughtered by TAMERLAN (1336-1405) who’s name literally translates to “Timur the Lame” as he was lame after sustaining an injury to the leg as a child. He ruled over an empire that extends n modern geography from south-eastern Turkey,Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran through central Asia encompassing parts of Kasakhstan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, usbekistan, Kyrgysistan, Pakistan, India and even approached Kashgar in China. He ruled over an empire that extends in modern nations from south eastern Turkey through central Asia, even approaching Kashgar in China. His marriage into the family of the 13th century Mongol conqueror “Genghis Khan” added to his fame.

When we arrived at the “Red City”(from the color of the blood which was running in small rivers down the hill), it was around 4 PM, the sun was slowly setting and everything was dipped into an incredibly beautiful light. We were alone as it is located virtually in the middle of nowhere. Being always eager to explore and to detect new things and on top fascinated by history, we stopped the car and I decided I would climb up the rather steep hill of about (I’m bad in estimating but would say roughly) 50 meters and look around to get a clearer picture of what had happened when I suddenly and, already on the way to there, abruptly stopped … and looked up – bewildered and somewhat anxious – to the opper edge of the hill. What I saw there was strange and totally unreal – it was the clear shape of a man in black, standing there, hands to his hips and legs slightly apart – looking down on me. I am thank God not an hysterical person and do know to distinguish between reality and fantasy and thought “this can’t be, it must be the light or some kind of reflection or shadow” and shielded my eyes to be able to see better and risk another glance – and this figure in black, who – or whatever it was, was still standing there in the same fashion, still clearly focussing on me.


I felt like mesmerized and really didn’t know anymore what to think about this whole strange appearance and finally, considering the fact we were all alone in the vastness of this part of the Hindukush, I decided to call it the quits and headed back to the car to drive on … direction “Crying City”. No further “ghost” anymore though … only memories of long gone by times full of horror and death.

I often thought of this particular situation there at the foot of the “Red City” and wonder what I had seen … till todayI am not sure. I KNOW I was not fantasising and in full command of my mental faculties … till today and most likely till the end of my life though this will remain a big mystery. I do not believe in ghosts per se … but in things under the sun which do exist – even we humans don’t and will never understand them!

Next times I’ll tell you about these two huge Buddhas I mentioned at the beginning … and why I remember them in a very personal way – and about “Band-i-Amir” and it’s the stunningly beautiful Holy Lakes.

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