A place of exceptional beauty, Band-e-Amir National Park lies at an altitude of approximately 3,000 meters above sea level in the Hindu Kush mountains. The park is situated in Bamiyan Province of central Afghanistan, which is also famous for its giant Buddha statues and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley. At Band-e-Amir National Park, the flow of the Balkh River is delightfully interrupted by a series of natural dams, creating rugged basins of impenetrable azure and gemlike turquoise waters. Transient shades of tan and mauve arise from the surrounding rocky limestone tiers, juxtaposed against the sturdy grey hues of distant hills.In 2004, the Afghanistan Ministries for Irrigation, Water Resources, Environment, and Agriculture secured a tentative inscription of Band-e-Amir as a UNESCO World Heritage listing, citing its natural as well as historical value and its added vulnerability caused by growing human activity in the area. Band-E-Amir National Park’s total area covers approximately 370 square kilometers, or 143 square miles. The six lakes formed by the dams vary greatly in size and shape. Their colors also differ depending on water purity and mineral content. The region is often described as the “Grand Canyon of Afghanistan,” with Band-e-Amir being one of the few examples of a travertine lake formation in the world.The name Band-e-Amir translates as “Commander’s Dam.” The site is of major religious and cultural significance for Muslims. Centuries-old Islamic folklore tells how the lakes were created by Hazrat Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib in demonstrations of his miraculous power. It is said that Hazrat Ali also spent the night on the banks of Band-e-Haibat, the most central and deepest dam, and a shrine has been built at the site to commemorate this event. The shrine attracts a steady stream of pilgrims each year from around Afghanistan, who pray and ask for blessings. Since Band-e-Amir National Park’s inauguration, Afghanis from all over the country have come to enjoy its majesty, and to pay their respects to the wise and compassionate legacy of Hazrat Ali. International interest has also been sparked with visitors from across the globe.