I visited Tajikistan from October 4 through 9 for business and took the opportunity to discover a country I had not visited before. I managed to visit a broad cross section of the country except for the Pamir Mountains region. Which will be for the next time … This was a perfect time of the year to visit as the autumn was starting and the leaves were starting to change color. The beauty of the country lies in the ruggedness of the terrain and the genuine hospitality of the people.
The Tajiks like all the other people of Central Asia are very welcoming. They great you with nothing but kindness and make you their guest of honor. They will offer you a very rich table of food. With their Persian roots they do stand out from the rest of Turkic and Mongolic origin Central Asia. They can rely on a long history and rich cultural heritage. .
Istaravshan in the north near Khudjand is a small town with a rich history. Alexander the Great stormed its Sogdian fortress, killed all the men of resisting, and abducted all the women back to Khudjand. It also features a beautiful small blue domed maddrassah named after Abdullatif Sultan, son of Ulugbek
whole built the observatory in Samarkand, himself son of Tamerlane, and who is claimed to have killed his father Ulgubek whom he considered too “liberal” by throwing him off the roof of the observatory.
Khojand, the second largest city of Tajikistan, is situated in the north of the country in the fertile Fergana valley. It distinctly feels more Uzbek than Tajik. It was founded by Alexander the Great and is more than 2’500 years old. It was called Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria the Furthest.
Panjikent is the Pompeii of the East. The old hilltop city a few km east to the current one was destroyed by fire set by the Arab conquerors who invaded in 722AD. As the walls collapsed inwards they preserved beautiful fresco that were decorating the inner walls. These frescoes that can be viewed in the museum in Panjikent and in Dushanbe are a testimony to the richness of the city as a key center on the old silk route.
Sarazm, about 10 km west of Panjikent and near the border with Uzbekistan is a recently inscribed UNESCO World Heritage site. It is reputedly over 5’000 years old settlement in Central Asia. We were lucky enough when visiting it that we managed to get explanation form a visiting French archeological team. They explained that excavations which also resulted in discovering the remains of a buried rich lady, showed this settlement 5000 years ago interacted with civilizations at the Indian Ocean, China, Mesopotamia and with the nomadic cultures of north Central Asia as evidenced by the jewelry, pottery and materials in the grave.
In the small town of Pajrud about 15 km off the main road to and about 45 km before Panjikent one can find the mausoleum of the Persian poet Rudaki. It is set in beautiful gardens against the backdrop of the Fan mountains. Rudaki is the founder of modern Persian. He is especially honored in Tajikistan as one of their great heroes. He was born in the 9th Century and was a great poet at the court Amir Nasr of Bukhara. His clear simple language became the standard for modern Persian.
Last Updated: 19-10-2011
Copyright © 2012 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved