Tajikistan

Community Highlights Asia Tajikistan

24th May (continued)

We entered Tajikistan via the Oybek border. This small country has soaring mountains, valleys and pristine lakes.
This is their flag.

Tajikistan.jpg?auto=format

Once across the border we drove to Khujand. It was only 70km away. We were now close to the mountains.

large_IMG_6317.jpg?auto=format

The border between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is a lot more friendly these days. There are these pictures everywhere showing the 2 presidents confirming how friendly they are towards each other.

large_IMG_6320.jpg?auto=format

Khujand was formerly known as Leninabad between 1936-1991, and is the second-largest city of Tajikistan and the capital of the northernmost province of Tajikistan, now called Sughd. Khujand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back about 2,500 years. It is situated on the Syr Darya at the mouth of the Fergana Valley and was a major city along the ancient Silk Road. It was founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. We stopped at the river to get some views. This is the mongol mountains behind the city.

large_29eace70-7e48-11e9-b74b-33107089e42e.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090507.jpg?auto=format
large_46abcc80-7e48-11e9-b74b-33107089e42e.jpg?auto=format
large_4672e230-7e48-11e9-b74b-33107089e42e.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090510.jpg?auto=format

We visited Pushkin Square also known as Victory Square.

large_P1090511.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090514.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090519.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090526.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090527.jpg?auto=format

We then passed the Timur Malik Fortress. Timur Malik was a governor who constructed a fortress just below the city. He entrenched himself in it with a thousand loyal warriors to hold off the Mongols.

large_P1090516.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090517.jpg?auto=format

Saw another photo of the president.

large_P1090522.jpg?auto=format

Next was the Historical Museum of Sughd. It had a wide range of artefacts related to the history of the Sughd region of Tajikistan.

large_P1090524.jpg?auto=format

We then went to Khujand Registan Square.

large_IMG_6325.jpg?auto=format

This is the Panjshanbe Bazaar which is on one side of the square.

large_IMG_6322.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6331.jpg?auto=format

We were impressed by the stately columns holding up the bazaar. It was lovely and colourful. The bazaar has a main pavilion and many stalls, tents and shops. Construction of the pavilion took place in the middle of the 1950s-60’s. The interior has both Soviet and oriental styles. On the ground floor we found fruit and vegetables, bread and spices.

large_IMG_6332.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6338.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6340.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6341.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6346.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6348.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6351.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090552.jpg?auto=format
large_63767ca0-7e4a-11e9-b74b-33107089e42e.jpg?auto=format

This is the fatty backside of a special type of sheep they have here. I will try and get a picture of a real one at some stage.

large_IMG_6353.jpg?auto=format

These are the other buildings around the square.

large_P1090530.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6327.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6360.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6362.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6329.jpg?auto=format

In front of the square stands a memorial to the soldiers of World War 2.

large_IMG_6366.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090567.jpg?auto=format

The Arbob Palace was the former headquarters of a Soviet collective farm. It was built in the 1950’s and modelled on the winter gardens of Peterhof, St Petersburg. Outside the building is a procession of fountains and rose gardens. Inside, there are three wings. The building had particular significance in 1992, when it was the site for the meeting of the Tajik Soviet which officially declared independence from the Soviet Union.
There were heaps of water features but unfortunately due to Ramadan they were not working.

large_IMG_6368.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6370.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6374.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6375.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6377.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6378.jpg?auto=format

There was a group of youths walking around who spoke some English so once again we had a photo with them, and of course they did some selfies.

large_P1090573.jpg?auto=format

We then went and checked into our hotel. This is it from the other side of the river.
It is called the Parliament Hotel. It is only about a year old.

large_P1090505.jpg?auto=format

Once again, the rooms were massive, in fact we had 2 big rooms this time.

large_P1090577.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090578.jpg?auto=format

This is what the surrounds of the hotel looks like.

large_P1090580.jpg?auto=format
large_08e85950-7e4c-11e9-b74b-33107089e42e.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090583.jpg?auto=format

I took this photo from our hotel window of Shane relaxing by the river.

large_IMG_6382.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6383.jpg?auto=format

25th May

Before heading out of Khujand, we headed for the biggest Lenin monument left in Central Asia. He is made of aluminium.

large_P1090594.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6392.jpg?auto=format

There was also another monument there.

large_IMG_6390.jpg?auto=format

While we were there our Tajik guide Neos talked about his life under soviet rule. He still had his book that he used to get stamped each week.

large_IMG_6393.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6394.jpg?auto=format

We also passed the Monument to Ismoil Somoni. He was the 10th-century founder of the Samanid dynasty

large_IMG_6387.jpg?auto=format

As we left town there were quite a few rice paddies being prepared.

large_P1090604.jpg?auto=format

We then drove to Panjikent via Istaravshan town. Located in the northern foothills of the Turkistan mountain range, Istaravshan is one of the oldest cities in Tajikistan, having existed for more than 2500 years. In the first two centuries AD it was an important city with walls 6km long. Later it became a staging point on the Silk Road.
Views of the city.

large_P1090630.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090631.jpg?auto=format

We visited the Mugtepa Fortress. The site of this fortress was stormed by Alexander the Great in 329 BC. A modern reconstruction of one of the citadels medieval gateways dominates the site.

large_IMG_6407.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6409.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6411.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6412.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6415.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6416.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6417.jpg?auto=format

Kok-Gumbaz, which served as both a mosque and a religious school was built in 1436 by ‘Abd al-Latif, the eldest son of the astronomer king Ulugh Beg and great-grandson of the conqueror Timur (Tamerlane). Its name refers to an original light blue dome, destroyed with much of the structure from earthquakes in this seismically active area.

large_IMG_6431.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6432.jpg?auto=format

You can see the mosque stands out in the city. I took this photo from the fortress.

large_IMG_6414.jpg?auto=format

We also visited the Sar I Mazor mosque. The original mosque was only very small and was built in the 16th century.

large_IMG_6421.jpg?auto=format

The tree is over 800 years old.

large_IMG_6426.jpg?auto=format

This is the mausoleum that is there.

large_IMG_6425.jpg?auto=format

They then built a second mosque which was beautifully decorated inside.

large_P1090635.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6429.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090643.jpg?auto=format

They are now building their third mosque on the site which is so much bigger than the other two.

large_IMG_6430.jpg?auto=format

Everyone was very friendly there and there were lots of inquisitive kids. They all wanted their photos taken.

large_IMG_6427.jpg?auto=format

This mum was really proud of her baby.

large_IMG_6424.jpg?auto=format

We went to a local bazaar where we got to see local metalworkers and woodworkers.

large_IMG_6453.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6437.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6440.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6446.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6447.jpg?auto=format

Some of the goods they have made.

large_IMG_6443.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090662.jpg?auto=format

There are lots of tolls on this road, this is the first country in the stans where we have encountered toll roads.

large_IMG_6398.jpg?auto=format

We then stopped at the statue of Romulus and Remus. In Roman mythology they are twin brothers whose story tells the events that led to the founding of the city of Rome. They were raised by a wolf.

large_IMG_6465.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6466.jpg?auto=format

We then continued on towards Panjikent through the Shakhristan Gorge. We had lunch in a local restaurant. While we were there, we watched a herd of sheep come through. These sheep have extra big behinds that are all fat. We have seen it being sold in the meat markets.

large_IMG_6471.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6474.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6484.jpg?auto=format

We then drove four hours to our next home. The scenery was amazing.

large_IMG_6529.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6549.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6550.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6552.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090618.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090735.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090736.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090738.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090740.jpg?auto=format

There was lots of snow on the top of the mountains and a lot of it was fresh.

large_IMG_6492.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6512.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6519.jpg?auto=format

There was a 5km long tunnel built by the Chinese.

large_IMG_6502.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6506.jpg?auto=format

Some of the roads were on the side of cliffs and there were a few rock falls.

large_IMG_6526.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090705.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090712.jpg?auto=format

This was the funniest thing we saw all day. Have mosque will travel!!

large_IMG_6534.jpg?auto=format

At one of our stops there were lots of villagers cooking up yoghurt to make their dried products.

large_IMG_6509.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6514.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6515.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6517.jpg?auto=format

We stopped at one of the stalls but weren’t game enough to try anything.

large_IMG_6545.jpg?auto=format

Unfortunately, it poured with rain for the last part of our journey, so it was hard to see too much.
We then arrived in Panjikent which is in the Zerafshan Valley. The ruins of the old town are on the outskirts of the modern city. This small city has a population of around 35,000. It was a major city established in the 5th century by the Sogdians.

26th May

We awoke this morning to sunshine. This was the view from our room.

large_P1090749.jpg?auto=format

This morning we looked around Panjikent.

large_P1090753.jpg?auto=format

We explored the Rudaki Historic-Ethnographic Museum. This was opened in 2001 with a majority of the collection from archaeological excavations throughout Tajikistan.

large_IMG_6556.jpg?auto=format

This is his statue.

large_IMG_6557.jpg?auto=format

We then visited the statue of Haikali Devashtich who was the last king of ancient Panjikent.

large_IMG_6562.jpg?auto=format

Panjikent has the remains of an ancient Zoroastrian civilisation that is still being excavated today. 2500-year-old walls stand in the ruins of old Panjikent. It might look like random hills in a field at first but after exploring we were able to identify former walls and buildings. Remember the city is 2500 years old, so the fact that anything remains at all is amazing.

large_IMG_6606.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6608.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6610.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6625.jpg?auto=format

There were lots of poppies and wildflowers in amongst the ruins.

large_IMG_6607.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090792.jpg?auto=format

The yellow flowers were really unusual.

large_P1090797.jpg?auto=format

I found this bird sitting on some of the ruins.

large_IMG_6619.jpg?auto=format

From the top of the ruins we could see new Panjikent.

large_IMG_6622.jpg?auto=format

While we were walking back to the vans this old car came along. Neos walked out into the middle of the road and flagged them down so we could have a look. The man was proud to show off his car. It is 50 years old and the motor is in the boot.

large_IMG_6603.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6604.jpg?auto=format

We also drove out to the ruins of Sarazm. It is an ancient town which dates back to the 4th millennium BC and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. They have put shelters up to protect the ruins they have uncovered.

large_IMG_6566.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6567.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6572.jpg?auto=format

We were lucky enough to see archaeologists at work.

large_IMG_6575.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6579.jpg?auto=format

While wandering around by myself I found these little creatures heads popping out of holes in the ground. They are long tailed marmots.

large_IMG_6590.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6602.jpg?auto=format

There were people living nearby who were happy for me to take their photos.

large_IMG_6570.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6585.jpg?auto=format

After lunch we farewelled Panjikent. We continued for around 7 hours on to Dushanbe. We had to back track for some of the way today. This was a good thing as due to the rain yesterday we had missed a lot of it. The scenery was spectacular and changed quite a bit.

large_IMG_6664.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6680.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6684.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6685.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6695.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6699.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6710.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6714.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6723.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6725.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090820.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090823.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090827.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090869.jpg?auto=format

We then slowed right down as there was stock all over the road and it had created a traffic jam.

large_IMG_6701.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6704.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090863.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090864.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090865.jpg?auto=format

We then turned off the main road and had to travel 26km on dirt road to visit Iskanderkul lake. We first had to cross a bridge that was being repaired.

large_P1090925.jpg?auto=format

Once again, the scenery was stunning.

large_IMG_6728.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6739.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6749.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6752.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6758.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090883.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090890.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6796.jpg?auto=format

Iskanderkul is a mountain lake of glacial origin. It is at an altitude of 2,195 metres on the northern slopes of the Gissar Range in the Fann Mountains. Triangular in shape, it has a surface area of 3.4 square kilometres and is up to 72 metres deep. It was claimed to be one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the former Soviet Union. It was named after Alexander the Great.

large_P1090897.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6765.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6766.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6768.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6769.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090900.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090902.jpg?auto=format

We the back tracked to the main road on the way we were lucky enough to see a herd of yaks.

large_IMG_6788.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6784.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6785.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6790.jpg?auto=format

Once back on the main road the scenery continued to impress us.

large_P1090927.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6804.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6805.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090953.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090954.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090955.jpg?auto=format

There were lots of tunnels.

large_P1090945.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090961.jpg?auto=format
large_P1090969.jpg?auto=format

We then arrived in Dushanbe which is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. Dushanbe means Monday in the Tajik language. It was named this way because it grew from a village that originally had a popular market on Mondays. With soviet era pastel buildings and public squares contrasted with the hinterlands of mountains and rural villages it is one of the most charming capitals in Central Asia.
It had been a 12 hour day, so we headed straight to a late dinner then settled into the hotel.

27th May

The hotel we are staying in is a bit confusing. Our key cards say Sheraton, the front of the hotel says Hilton but then the wifi and the sheet over the front of the hotel say H hotel. Anyway, besides that, it is a lovely hotel and nice and secure. They even have a security guard on the gate checking under cars with a mirror.

large_b6893ca0-8207-11e9-a9cf-255b0c0111ed.jpg?auto=format

We had a lovely view of Dushanbe from our room.

large_IMG_6806.jpg?auto=format

We then headed out to see some of Dushanbe. We stopped to look at the Opera Theatre which was built in 1939.

large_P1090981.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6812.jpg?auto=format

Right next door was the Stalinabad Hotel. This was the first 3 storey building in Dushanbe which was also built in 1939. During the war the hotel was used to nurse the injured soldiers back to health.

large_P1090987.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6814.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6816.jpg?auto=format

We visited the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.

large_IMG_6818.jpg?auto=format

We got to see quite a few objects that had been found in Sarazm where we visited recently. The most interesting thing in the museum was the 13m buddha lying in the Sleeping Lion traditional pose from the Buddhist Monastery of Ajinateppa. It is made of clay, so the excavation process was difficult.

large_P1090991.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6824.jpg?auto=format

This is an original picture of how they found the remains.

large_IMG_6821.jpg?auto=format

We visited the monument of Ismoil Somoni which is situated on Ozodi square. The height of the monument is more than 25 metres. This monument was placed in 1999 in honour of the 1100 anniversary of the state of the Samanids. The monument is richly decorated with gold and looks impressive. Abu Ibrakhim Ismoil was the Amir from the Sasanids dynasty, the founder of the state in Central Asia.

large_IMG_6838.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6831.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6837.jpg?auto=format

Opposite the monument was Parliament House.

large_IMG_6836.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6835.jpg?auto=format

We walked down the beautiful promenade with lots of fountains, towards the Tajikistan monument.

large_IMG_6840.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6842.jpg?auto=format
large_P1100006.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6856.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6858.jpg?auto=format

This is the National Library. They have over 1000 computers in there for public use.

large_IMG_6851.jpg?auto=format

We then took a stroll through Rudaki Park. It had meticulous landscaped gardens, beautiful fountains and statues. There was a monument to 9th century poet Rudaki.

large_IMG_6853.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6863.jpg?auto=format
large_P1100011.jpg?auto=format

This is the Palace of Nations.

large_IMG_6871.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6882.jpg?auto=format

This used to be the highest flagpole in the world, but it has apparently now been beaten by Saudi Arabia. It was in a lovely park.

large_IMG_6876.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6889.jpg?auto=format

The National Museum was right next door.

large_IMG_6879.jpg?auto=format

We stopped at Kohi Navruz. The complex building began construction in 2009 and was fully completed in September 2014. From the very beginning the complex was planned as the biggest national tea house in Central Asia but is in the process of turning it into a museum. Unfortunately it was not open so we could not go inside.

large_P1100067.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6941.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6943.jpg?auto=format

We visited another bazaar but again it was quite different.

large_P1100028.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6901.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6900.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6905.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6908.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6910.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6912.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6913.jpg?auto=format

We had a walk around the botanical gardens.

large_IMG_6914.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6918.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6917.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6919.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6921.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6934.jpg?auto=format
large_P1100065.jpg?auto=format

Then we found a squirrel. He had a hairy tail and hairy ears.

large_P1100057.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6926.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6932.jpg?auto=format

We then travelled on to Hissar and visited the Hissar Fortress. This used to be a palace of one of Bukhara Emirate becks. The fortress with 1 m walls and loopholes for guns and cannons towered on a high hill's slope and was carefully guarded. Inside there was a pool and a garden. The only remaining part is a monumental gate made from burned bricks with two cylindrical towers with the arrow-shaped arch between them. They have recreated what it would have looked like.

large_IMG_6945.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6946.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6951.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6952.jpg?auto=format
large_IMG_6953.jpg?auto=format

One of the original walls.

large_IMG_6950.jpg?auto=format

Opposite the entrance to the fortress was the Kukhna madrasah which was built in the 17th century. This madrasah prepared scholars and clergy representatives. They learned the Koran, Arab language and history of Islam. The madrasah taught up to 150 pupils. The madrasah is a brick building with an entrance portal crowned with a dome. Next door are the remains of the Caravanserai where they slept with their camels.

large_P1100075.jpg?auto=format

We had a lovely dinner tonight. We went to a Soviet Tea House.

large_P1100095.jpg?auto=format
large_P1100096.jpg?auto=format
large_P1100097.jpg?auto=format

28th May
We had a late check out and headed to the airport as today we are leaving Tajikistan.

large_P1100100.jpg?auto=format

This featured blog entry was written by shaneandnicola from the blog The 5 Stans.
Read comments or Subscribe

By shaneandnicola

Posted Thu, May 30, 2019 | Tajikistan | Comments