When Xuanzang saw the figures, they were also decorated with gold and fine jewels.
The two Buddha figures, together with numerous ancient man-made caves in the cliffs north of the town, made Bamiyan a major regime had the statues destroyed, despite worldwide pleas to save them.
“I left my education behind and I lost my personal capital,” says the 22 year old, who is now back in Afghanistan.
He said: "They will be doing themselves a great deal of disservice and no religious leaders from the Islamic world have supported the edict.
During the subsequent search for a colossal reclining Buddha—also reported by Xuanzang and thought to be some 980 feet (300 metres) long—in 2008 an additional Buddha was discovered nearby.
The 3rd-century statue, which was badly damaged, represented the Buddha in a sleeping position and measured 62 feet (19 metres) in length.
Bamyan was a stopping-off point for many travellers.
It was here that elements of Greek and Buddhist art were combined into a unique classical style known as Greco-Buddhist art.