Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Huge natural stone arch new Afghan treasure

March 31, 2011
photo courtesy of  Ayub Alavi/Wildlife Conservation Society

photo courtesy of Ayub Alavi/Wildlife Conservation Society

Afghanistan surprises most first-time visitors (including many on military transport planes) with stunning natural beauty — there’s little room in column inches taken up with war to describe snow-topped mountains, lush valleys, spring fields scattered with crocus and other pleasures of living here.

The country’s dazzling blue Band-e Amir lakes are almost unique geologically (not the way they are formed, but in their size), there are endangered animals like snow leopards roaming the country’s more remote corners, and now naturalists have discovered one of the world’s largest natural stone arches.

The Hazarchishman arch, which sits over 3,000 metres above sea level, has a span of almost 65 metres, making it the 12th largest known in the world. It has nudged Utah’s Outlaw Arch down one place in the list.

There are also man-made treasures left, despite centuries of war and destruction, and a more recent spasm of archeological looting fueled by the huge market for antiquities, whether legal or not.

Archeologists are working frantically to excavate the remains of a vast, rich and until recently entirely unknown monastery complex just south of Kabul, under which lies a rich vein of copper ore that a Chinese consortium is waiting to start mining.

Hopefully one day Afghanistan will be peaceful enough for more than a few lucky journalists, archeologists and conservation workers to see these things.


Afghanistan was Gandhara in 458 AD when Hwui Shan left and traveled to Fu Sang to convert the indigenous people there to Buddhism. He gave his report of the trip to the Emperor of China in 502 when he returned to Asia. Although there has been great disagreement on where Fu Sang is actually located there can be no disagreement on the Vedic symbols and the similarities of the landscape between Afghanistan and what many of us today feel was once Fu Sang. Google: “Mandalas, Mantras, Manjis and Monuments” and “Were the Anasazi People Buddhists?” Arches are prominent in all Vedic religions including
Buddhism as well as Hinduism. Is that why a replica of
Labna’s Arch (Mexico) was this year built in India to
“bring both the countries together in HERITAGE, CULTURE
and political tie-ups.” (The capitals are mine.)Google: “Arch in Delhi commemorates India-Mexico friendship” Or how about the beautiful almost identical free standing Vedic arches that can be seen by googling: “Delicate Arch” or “Anasazi Rock Arch”. If you have any doubts about the role of the arch in Vedic India google: “The Arch in Buddhism” and “The Arch in Hinduism” Although
mainstream scholarship has yet to grasp the obvious it appears that some impacted nations like Mexico and India
as well as Tibetan exiles and the Hopi and Navajo Native
American tribal nations are embracing their apparent ancient cultural connections. Google: “Hopi and Tibetan Prophecies”.

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