Band-e Amir National Park
|Band-e Amir National Park|
|Location||Bamyan Province, Afghanistan|
|Nearest city||Yakawlang, Bamyan|
Band-e Amir National Park (Persian: بند امیر) a national park located in the Bamyan Province of central Afghanistan. It is a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. The lakes are situated in the Hindu Kush mountains at approximately 3000 m of elevation, west of the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan.
They were created by the carbon dioxide rich water oozing out of the faults and fractures to deposit calcium carbonate precipitate in the form of travertine walls that today store the water of these lakes. Band-e Amir is one of the few rare natural lakes in the world which are created by travertine systems. The site of Band-e Amir has been described as Afghanistan's Grand Canyon, and draws thousands of tourists a year. The river is part of the system of the Balkh River.
The name Band-e Amir literally means "Commander's Dam" which is believed by some to be a reference to Ali, the fourth Caliph of the Muslims. The area is dominated by ethnic Hazaras, who are estimated to make up about 10 percent of Afghanistan's population.
In her 1970 guide to Afghanistan, Nancy Dupree wrote that a full description about Band-e Amir would "rob the uninitiated of the wonder and amazement it produces on all who gaze upon it". Parts of the 1975 Bollywood film Dharmatma, with Feroz Khan and Hema Malini, were filmed at the Band-e Amir National Park.
In 2004, Band-e Amir was submitted for recognition as a World Heritage site. Efforts to make Band-e Amir a national park started in the 1970s, but were then put on hold due to the wars. In April 2009, Band-e Amir was finally declared Afghanistan's first national park. As of 2013, about 6,000 local tourists visit the Band-e Amir National Park every year. The area is protected by a small number of park rangers.
Band-e Amir is situated at approximately 75 km to the north-west of the ancient city of Bamyan, close to the town of Yakawlang. Together with Bamyan Valley, they are the heart of Afghanistan's tourism, attracting thousands of tourists every year and from every corner of the world. The Band-e Amir lakes are primarily a late spring and summertime tourism destination, as the high elevation central Hazarajat region of Afghanistan is extremely cold in winter, with temperatures reaching as low as -20C. The six constituent lakes of Band-e Amir are:
- Band-e Gholaman (Lake of the slaves)
- Band-e Qambar (Lake of Caliph Ali's slave)
- Band-e Haibat (Lake of grandiose)
- Band-e Panir (Lake of cheese)
- Band-e Pudina (Lake of wild mint)
- Band-e Zulfiqar (Lake of the sword of Ali)
The white travertine dams created by fault lines, which are prevalent in the Band-e Amir Valley, form the barriers between the lakes. Band-e Haibat is the biggest and the deepest of the six, with an average depth of approximately 150 metres, as estimated by the Provincial Reconstruction Team diving team from New Zealand. Another comparable lake is Band-e Azhdahar (The Dragon), located a few kilometres southeast of the town of Bamyan, which has also been created as a result of carbon dioxide rich water oozing out of the faults underground and depositing calcium carbonate precipitate to form the travertine walls of Band-e Amir.
After the formal establishment of the park in 2009, a park office with a park warden and a group of rangers was installed to manage the conservation and protection of park natural resources. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is the only non-government organization with an office in the park. WCS supports park staff and works with the local community to promote conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Ecotourism is expected to decrease local economic dependency on the park's natural resources. Tourists visit Band-e-Amir primarily in the summer months when the weather is warm. A poor local economy and limited outside investment have hampered efforts to attract winter tourism.
The local people in Band-e-Amir National Park rely heavily on the park's natural resources for their livelihood. Grazing of livestock, collection of shrubs for fuel and winter fodder and rain-fed farming is still widely practiced within the park boundary. Although the illegal hunting of birds and a few mammals living in the park is formally prohibited by the park office, there is no current data to evaluate the status of wildlife and biodiversity.
Important Bird Area
A 41,000 ha tract overlapping the national park has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports populations of Himalayan snowcocks, Hume's larks, white-winged snowfinches, Afghan snowfinches and Eurasian crimson-winged finches.
- List of dams and reservoirs in Afghanistan
- Natural areas of Afghanistan
- Wakhan National Park
- Nuristan National Park
- "Afghans get first national park". BBC News. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- "Afghanistan's 'Grand Canyon' drawing tourists, money". CBS. 25 May 2013. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "Why Are The Taliban Attacking Hazaras In Afghanistan?". RFE/RL. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "Band-e-Amir: Afghanistan's first national park". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2009.
- "Remains of the day: Bamiyan valley, Afghanistan". Mint. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Band-E-Amir - canesecco World Heritage Centre. Submitted on 2004-09-08. Retrieved on 2008-07-15 from https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1946/.
- "Oasis from the ruins: Afghanistan opens first national park". CNN. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- Leithead, Alastair (2008-07-15). Getting tourists to Afghanistan's 'Grand Canyon'. BBC News. Retrieved on 2008-07-15 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7506146.stm.
- "Bande Amir". BirdLife Data Zone. BirdLife International. 2021. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Dupree, Nancy Hatch (1977): An Historical Guide to Afghanistan. 1st Edition: 1970. 2nd Edition. Revised and Enlarged. Afghan Tourist Organization.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Band-e Amir.|
- Band-e Amir National Park travel guide from Wikivoyage