Capital of Tajikistan. Between 1929 and 1961, the city of Dushanbe was called Stalinabad. The city of Dushanbe grew out of the village of Dushanbe, located in the Hissar Valley. Records show that as early as 1676, on each Monday of the week (dushanbe), villagers from the surrounding areas brought their produce to market at this spot. In 1907, Dushanbe served as a summer resort for the Bek of Hissar; in 1920, it housed Amir Alim Khan. The ousted Amir of Bukhara stayed in Dushanbe and cooperated with the Basmachis until he had to leave the region..
Dushanbe is divided into four administrative zones: Rah Ahan, Markazi, Oktiabr, and Frunze. Varzab, a suburb of Dushanbe, used to serve as one of the prominent recreation areas for the former Soviet Union. At the present time, the city serves as both the administrative center of the republic of Tajikistan and the republic’s largest industrial and cultural center.
Dushanbe’s main educational centers include the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, the State University of Tajikistan in the Name of Lenin, Tajikistan Poly technique, and the Shevchenko Pedagogical Institute.
Modern-day Dushanbe is a scientific, intellectual and cultural center of the republic. There is the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, 17 research institutes, 17 universities, 8 theaters, 8 museums, 3 cinemas, 4 libraries in Dushanbe. Various cultural and educational events forums, symposia, exhibitions, scientific conferences are regularly held in the capital. Tourism has just started growing in this part there are already couple of good hotels some are still under construction, also there are fitness centers, casinos, restaurants and bars here. The town itself is very green with beautiful parks, lakes and interesting architecture. In 2004, by decision of UNESCO Dushanbe was declared a city of peace.
Museum of Antiquities
Dushanbe is a beautiful city with an old world charm. Both its streets and buildings give the region’s visitors a sense of its past glory. The best way to get a glimpse of the city’s past is to visit the Museum of Antiquities. This is one of the biggest attractions of the city.
For people who appreciate good architecture, Dushanbe has a lot to offer. There are over 60 architectural monuments across the city and most of them are dated between 1930 and 1990. These monuments are well maintained and the City Administration conducts periodic maintenance and reconstruction projects
The most important architectural wonders in the city are the Opera and Ballet Theater, Ismail Somoni Monument, Mirzo Tursunzade Mausoleum and the Firdowsi library which houses a collection of medieval Islamic manuscripts.
Hissar Fortress represents a palace of one of the beys of the Bukhara Emirate. The fortress with walls 1 metre thick with loopholes for guns, rose above the pitch of a hill and was guarded. There were a swimming pool and a garden inside the fortress. Opposite the fortress bustling bazaar square was located with caravansary and a great number of shops. A number of different legends has to do with the Gissar Fortress. According to one of these legends the fortress was built by Afrosiab to defend against Rustam (famous heroes of Firdowsi’s work The Shahnome), another legend says that pious caliph Ali came to this site on his horse Dul-Dul (to the north of Gissar). In the guise of acrobat rop-walker he stole through the fortress, but was recognized and captured. But his faithful horse came to the rescue and brought him his sword with the help of which he managed to destroy all enemies, including evil magician, who possessed the fortress.
The Pamirs are at the hub of Asia. Often described as the Roof of the World, these mountains form one of the most unexplored regions on earth. High, cold and remote, they have attracted climbers and hunters from the former Soviet Union for years, but only now are they opening up for the rest of the world. The bulk of the Pamir lies in the semi-autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan.
The road between Dushanbe and Khorog is the exception.
The only town of any significance on the Pamir Highway, which stretches from Dushanbe into Kyrgyzstan, is Khorog. The capital of the eastern Tajik region of Gorno-Badakhshan, Khorog is a small one-street town with a museum containing stuffed animals and a display of photographs of Lenin. The flight into Khorog from the Tajik capital is the most stunning with overlooking the Pamir Mountain ranges. Lake Sareskoye, in the heart of the Pamirs, was formed in 1911 when the side of a mountain was dislodged by an earthquake and fell into the path of a mountain river. In the north of the Pamirs, Lake Kara-Kul, formed by a meteor 10 million years ago, is 3915m (12,844ft) above sea-level and hence too high for any aquatic life. Pik Lenina and Mount Garmo (formerly Pik Kommunizma) are to the northwest and west respectively of Lake Kara-Kul. At well over 7000m (22,966ft), these two peaks tower over Tajikistan and the neighboring republic of Kyrgyzstan to the north. Helicopter flights are available for those wishing to climb them. Some people are convinced that yetis are alive and thriving in this remote wilderness.
The town of Khorog – the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, with population of about 30,000 – is situated on high narrow terraces 2,060m above sea level near the confluence of the Ghunt and Shohdara rivers on the border with Afghanistan. The river valley here is narrow, so the town is actually two large streets lined with poplars.In 1895, when the state border between the Russian Empire and Afghanistan was finally decided, a Russian boundary fortification of three houses and a barrack emerged in the small mountain village of Khorog. A road from Osh to Khorog was built, but it was only possible to go on horseback to deliver goods from camel caravans. There were no more than 90 households here in the early 20th century.
The Russian authorities opened a school and a clinic for the local population. These features made Khorog stand out from the other villages of Shughnon (the name of the Ghunt and Shohdara river basin area).From the mid-1920s, when Khorugh was made the administrative centre of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, it began to grow and develop. The first apartment buildings were built in 1926. In 1929, the first plane arrived in Khorog. The first car arrived two years later. The construction of the Khorog hydropower station, the first in the Pamirs, began in 1934.Nowadays Khorog is the scientific, cultural, educational and economic centre of the Oblast. The city hosts the Humanities Institute, the Pamiri Biological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Khorog State University, the vocational school, the medical college, and the Music & Drama Theatre, as well as a hospital with modern medical equipment. The University of Central Asia is now being built here as well.
Tourism has just started in this beauitul region as some NGO’S and Agha Khan Development network is working with the local communities for tourism development in the region.
The Fan Mountains are a popular tourist destination situated in north-west Tajikistan. The Fan Mountains area is convenient for visiting. A paved road from Dushanbe going to the largest Pamir-Alai lake – lake Iskandarkul – leads to this place via the 3,372m Anzob Pass. Another paved road runs from Panjakent. One more road from Khujand runs through Istravshan (formerly Uroteppa) and the 3,351m Shahriston Pass. The Fan Mountains area road system includes both paved and unpaved roads.
The area is very convenient for organizing hiking tours lasting several days. Going from one valley to another, from one beautiful lake to another no less stunning, via numerous rocky outcrops with occasional hanging glaciers, tourists can’t help but recognize the fantastic environment through which they are traveling. Among the most beautiful and interesting peaks (from a mountaineer’s point of view) are Chapdara (5,050m), Bodkhona (5,138m), Zamok (5,070m), Maria (4,970m), Mirali (5,120m), and Zindon (4,800m). Both the good and the ordinary routes on the south and west sides of Chimtarga (5,487m), the highest peak of Fan Mountains, lead to its top. Besides the high peaks and narrow valleys with their noisy streams, which are typical for the Fan Mountains, there are also about 30 pure lakes of a variety of colures
Iskandar Kul Lake
Iskander kul A mountain lake of glacial origin in Tajikistan’s Sughd Province. Located at an altitude of 2,195 m on the northern slopes of Hissar Range in the Fann Mountains, Triangular in shape, it has a surface area of 3.4 km2 and is up to 72 m deep. One of the most beautiful mountain lakes in all of the former Soviet Union, a popular tourist attraction there are some good hikes near by the Lake.
According to tradition, the lake takes its name from Alexander the Great: Iskander is the Central Asian pronunciation of Alexander, and kul is lake in Tajik.
Khujand – the country’s second largest city – is situated in the northern part of Tajikistan, and is one of its most ancient cities, founded about 2,300 years ago during the time of Alexander the Great.
According to Greek historians, in 329 B.C. Alexander the Great founded a fortress on the River Tanais or Yaksart (present-day Syr Darya River), which formed a natural border for his empire. He named it after himself and populated it with Greek warriors and local “barbarians” (i.e. the local population). Of course, this fortress was not initially really a town. However, later, due to its strategic geographical location, it became densely populated and turned into a large town (by the standards of that time), known historically as Alexandria Eskhata (Outermost Alexandria).
The issue of the exact location of this ancient town has interested scholars of various countries for many centuries. Only in the mid-20th century was it confirmed that 4th century B.C. Khujand and Alexandria Eskhata of 329 B.C were one and the same place. It was also assumed that Alexandria Eskhata was not just built on empty land but in the centre of an ancient town known as Khujand, which was already in existence on the left bank of the Syr Darya River when Alexander the Great’s troops arrived.
Occupying a favorable location in the Ferghana valley, Khujand prospered for a long time, becoming rich and building palaces, mosques, and citadels. In the 13th century it was conquered and destroyed by Genghis Khan’s troops.
In the 9-12th centuries Khujand consisted of the town itself (Shahriston), an old fortress (kuhandiz) and a handicraft-trade suburb (rabad). All these parts of town were fortified with defensive walls. Later the town was restored and began to play an important trade role as a Silk Road transit hub.
In the late 14th – early 15th centuries Khujand and its surrounding region were a part of the State of Timur (Tamerlane). In the 18-19th centuries Khujand grew significantly, sprawling into one of the largest cities of Central Asia, comparable with Qoqand and Bukhara. The town also had its own ruler (beg).
Late 19th – early 20th century Khujand was a typical Central Asian town, with crooked, narrow streets lined with adobe houses pressed close to each other, noisy bazaars, and rows of various handicraft workshops. The town was divided into numerous small quarters (mahalla), each with a mandatory mosque, teahouse and pond (havz). The quarter’s mosques and teahouses were locations for a variety of community gatherings and to resolve issues of common interest. Each quarter developed predominance in its own type of craft.
Khujand was situated on the border of the Bukhara Emirate and the Qoqand Khanate, and was a source of contention between them. In 1866 it was annexed to Russia, ending Bukhara and Qoqand’s destructive fighting over it.
In 1929, a part of the territory of the Uzbek SSR, which then included Khujand region and the town itself, were given to the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The population of the region at that time was slightly over 250,000. On January 9, 1936, Khujand was renamed Leninabad in honor of Lenin. The city kept this new name until 1990 when its ancient, historical name, Khujand, was restored.
This city is currently a large industrial and cultural centre in Tajikistan. Present-day Khujand is a lush green city with many parks and squares. The Syr Darya River, which runs through the centre of the city and its ample banks, form a wonderful place for recreation and swimming. Khujand is the only city in Tajikistan located on a large river.
The famous Panjshanbe city market is one of the most interesting sights of Khujand. It is one of the largest covered markets in Central Asia, and attracts customers with its multiple colours, unusual sounds and flavours, variety and abundance of fruit and vegetables. Panjshanbe in Tajik means “Thursday” and in former times Thursday was the main day for trade at this market.
Near the market is a mosque and the Sheikh Muslihiddin mausoleum (the mausoleum has not been preserved in its original form, only fragments remain of the 11-12th century building) /more on page 28/.
In the middle of the northern part of the city, not far from the Syr Darya River, near present-day Kamol Khujandi City Park, there is a fortress that was built in approximately 7-8th century A.D. The fortress occupied an area of approximately 300 х 200m and was surrounded by a thick mud wall. Later it was destroyed but at the beginning of the 13th century it was partially restored. The Museum of Archaeology and Fortification is now in the fortress area.
It is known that in the 18th century Khujand was a walled city, and this wall has been partially preserved on the western and eastern sides of the present-day city. Once the city walls were about 6km in length but now there is only a little over 1km left of them.The name of the Qayraqqum Reservoir (the “Tajik Sea”), situated to the east of the city, is derived from the word Qayraqqum, which means “stony desert”. The “Sea” was formed as a result of damming the Syr Darya River with an earth-fill dam and constructing the 130m long concrete dam of Qayraqqum Hydropower Station (HPS). The reservoir itself is about 65km in length and 8-20km in width. In summer the water level reaches 18m. There are several respectable sanitariums, recreation zones, and the The Tajik Sea Hotel on its shores.
Since ancient times Khujand, along with Samarqand, Bukhara, Merv, Balkh and other towns has been a place where Tajik culture has developed; it was one of the largest economic centre of Central Asia. The city still preserves its renowned traditions.
Panjikent or Panjekent, is a city in the Sughd province of Tajikistan on the Zeravshan river, with a population of 33,000 (2000 census). It was once an ancient town in Sogdiana. The ruins of the old town are on the outskirts of the modern city.
Ancient Panjekent was a small but flourishing town of the Soghdians in pre-Islamic Central Asia. It served as the capital of Panch and was known as Panchekanth.
The ethnic and territorial name “Soghd/Soghdian” ur Sughd/Sughdian was mentioned in history as early as the Iranian Achaemenid Dynasty (6th century B.C.). The Achaemenids founded several city-states, as well as cities along the ancient Silk road and in the Zarafshan valley.
The town grew in the 5th century A.D. and many professionals such as established businessmen and landowners made their livelihoods in Panjakent. In A.D. 722, Arabianforces besieged and annexed the town. The last ruler of the town Devashtich fled into upper Zarafshan but he was captured and sentenced to death. For around 50 years, ancient Panjakent was ruled by new administrators but towards the end of the 8th century the town on the upper terraces was depopulated and relocated. Many ancient ruins of the old city, particularly the city architecture and works of art remain today.
According to Arab geographers, Panjakent in the 10th century had a formal Friday mosque that distinguished the place as a town from a village. It was the easternmost city of Soghd, and became well known for its walnuts.
Russian archaeologist Boris Marshak spent more than fifty years excavating the ruins at Panjakent. He remained there even after Tajik independence as director of the excavation of the Panjakent ruins, even during the years of Civil War in Tajikistan from 1992-1997. Through close cooperation with the government of Tajikistan, Marshak ensured the protection and continued excavation of the Panjakent ruins. An important feature of the ruins is the frescoes which show details of dress and daily life.