Two ancient Buddha statues were destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols. International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas, which was viewed as an example of the intolerance of the Taliban. Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.
Photojournalist David Adams filmed the Buddhas before their destruction for an episode of Journeys to the Ends of the Earth, a travel series for the Travel Channel.
After the destruction of this heritage–a crime against culture–shocked the world. Yet behind the two stone giants, a hidden treasure of a different kind was uncovered: around 50 caves with walls decorated with religious frescoes that must have been made between the 5th and 9th centuries AD.