Not only did Zohak usurp the throne of Iran, but he soon found himself with serpents sprouting from his shoulders, lusting for human brains – a souvenir left by a kiss from the devil.
There is a fantasy book atmosphere about Bamyan, with its vivid legends and dreamy landscapes, and Darra-e Ezhdehar, the Valley of the Dragon, is another of its chapters.
Previously, one could only fly when registered with the UN or one of the NGO airlines.
As of December last year, though, So, assuming you have arrived safely, there is plenty to do.
The proximity to the huge iron ore of Hajigak lends a dark shade of red to the rocks into which – high up – the fortress was built.
This second citadel was named after a truly devilish character from literary sources – Zohak from the Shahnamah, the Persian epic by poet Ferdawsi; in fact, the Afghan dynasty of the Ghurids (XI-XIII century AD) used to claim descent from this legendary character.
The young princess would later meet death in form of a lethal shower of stones hurled at her by the unappreciative Mongols.
A visit to this fortress can be coupled by one to Shahr-e Zohak at the eastern limits of the Bamyan plateau where the road bifurcates, leading either to Shibar or to Hajigak.
Therefore he sent his disciples to fetch big slabs of ice from the higher slopes of the mountains and, wondrously, made them burn on the fire – the miracle gave him and his descendants lasting celebrity in the valley.
The only other major access route from the capital, over Hajigak Pass through Wardak province, had seen security problems long before.
Those who can manage to fly to Bamyan and land on the dirt airstrip beautifully embedded in the mountains, allowing a first glimpse of the famous Buddhas’ cliffs to one side while descending.
According to many sources it took three bigoted invading armies to wipe them out completely: Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor, tackled the legs in mid-18th century, while amir Abdul Rahman defaced them in 1893 (although in some of the first European sketches, drawn in early 19th century long before Abdul Rahman was born, the statues already look faceless).
The Taleban – thanks to technological progress – finished the job thoroughly in March 2001.