Adventure on the Great Pamir in Tajikistan Pamir TRAVEL

The Great Silk Road in Pamir
How to get this is region: by Pamir Silk road with three destinations:
1. from Dushanbe Karategin-Pamir destination:
"Darband - Tavildara–Kalai-khumb-Kalayrokharv - ( Vanch)- Yazgulom-Kalay Vomar(Rushon)-Barpanja."
2. from Khorog Shugnan destination: "Barpanja - Khorog - Murgab – Tashkurgan."
3. from Khorog Vakhan corridor:
" Kuhilal - Vrang - Ishkashim - Langar – the valley of the river Vakhandarya (Afghanistan) – Tashkurgan (China)".

Pamir, Badakhshan, occupies almost the half of the territory of modern Tajikistan - it is 63. 7 thousand sq. kilometers. Pamir is surrounded in all sides by the chain of permanent highest mountains and is considered to be one of the highest mountain system peak I.Somoni of the world with the altitude of 7495 ms above sea level.
The Badakhshan villages are staying along the valley of the river, consisting of separate farms with a big patriarchic families. Traditional way of life worked out for many centuries, based on irrigational agriculture, and cattle-farming in a high alpine areas with life in yurts let the mountain people to be adapted for staying in the altitude of 1800-4000 ms above sea level. They worked out an original type of high mountain living house, consisting of the unique living and farming buildings with a big five-columned hall(up to 100sq. ms),roofed with staged wooden ceiling " Chorkhona" and the light-smoke hole " rausan" . This type of living houses were taken to Central Asia by the indo-arian tribes and has analogies in the ancient architecture of the vast region from Mediterranean up to China.

In Karategin-Pamir destination in the centre of the of the existing principalities there were some small castles: Kalai-khumb, Kalay Rokharv (Vanch), Kalay Vomar (Rushon)< Kalay Barpanja(Shugnan),Kalay Pyanj (Vakhan). A group of monuments concerning the trade in Great Silk Road are situated in the main Vakhan road. In 47 kms from Khorog, on the top of the village Kuhilal, the same named mountain with the resource of precious stone of rich spinel,famous under the name of " Lali Badakhshon" is situated.
In 982 y Khudud-al-Alam, in XIII cc. the books of " Mineralogy" of Biruni and the travel reports of Marco Polo say, that " Local people digging out precious stones in the mountain of " Shigkhnan" (Shugnan),under the order of Russian Tzar.

About 500 ancient mines were found in the mountain of Kuhilal from VIII-XI cc.
In 100 km from Khorog and in 1. 5 km from the centre of Ishkoshim, in VI-XII cc. . on the bank of the river Pyanj there was functioning a well strengthened pier-ford-caravanserai Dorkisht, from here the road led to Faizabad (Afgan Badakhshan). In 13 km from Ishkoshim in the village of Namadguti Poen, one of the ancient castles of Western Pamir - " Kah-kah-qala" (from III c. B. C. - to VII c. A. D. ) was situated. It is staying in the middle of the valley on the high rock with the length of 675 ms and 200 ms the width. It's huge stone and mud brick double walls have 56 round and square towers, some palace buildings are situated in the western corner of the citadel. A small bridge combined the main citadel with it's part, built attaching the river, and also fortified with towers. According to Steblin-Kaminsky, the origin of the name of the village " Namadgut" is coming from sanscrith ," Namadgata-holy place" . The preislamic holy shrine of Ismailits - the cemetery of SHOHI MARDON KHAZRATI ALI is located in this village.

The other temple is called by the local people " Zamri Otashparast"
(The castle of fire worshippers) and it is situated on the top of the village Yamchun,75 km from Kah-kah-qala, it's length is 900 ms and the width is 400 ms. This castle is located in a impassable part of the stony slope, rounded with two deep canyons of the river. The majestic castle has three round of double walls with 40 towers and the impressive citadel in the highest part of it.
The famous orient list A. Stein called these two castles " the mountain version of finest central Asian fortification models" . Besides the trade caravans and military detachments the Great Silk Road was the road of missioners and pilgrims and it was possible to call it the " road of ideologies" Archeological investigations show, that, Badakhshanians were multireligious people, they worshipped to fire, sun, to ancestors and to Buddha. (the last was Badakhshan type of Buddhism). On the village of the Vrang, the Buddhian Temple ensemble (IV-VII cc). consisting of three staged building raising in the courtyard, rounded with high walls and towers was built on the foothill of the mountain cliff. The Chinese traveler Syuan Tzyan in VII cc. visited this area, and wrote about Buddhist temples and translated the Pamiri writing in the temple as " Narayana Win it!"

Among the villages of Vakhan the popular one is Yamg, where the local religious scientist,a poet,traveler Suffii Muborakkadam lived(died in 1910). Iin a wide pasture, nearby to his house there is a vertical stone with a hole in the middle of it, with a help of which Sufii Muborakkadam defined the celebration days of the calendar. In the house of one of the old Badakhshani man Gulomiobaeva Atitana (115 years old!) the original painting with the image of human, animals, plants and calligraphy made on the ceiling were preserved. Yamg village is also popular
for it's musical instruments, the finest of them is the popular multistringed " Balandmuqom" personally made by Sufii Muborakkadam.
Our route ends in the last village of Vakhan - Langar, on the top of it on the granite slopes the rock paintings with the images of mountain goats, caravans, horse riders with flags and with Ismailith five symbols were discovered. The big amount of historical and cultural monuments in Wahan destination of Great Silk Road allowed to the archeologist A. Zelinsky to call this area " The Great Pamir Road" . As for the scientist A. Stein ,he characterised this road as: " The Main Road connecting the Western Asia with classic world, consequently with far Central Asia and far East.
Shugnan destination: It starts from the village of Barpanla, former capital of Shugnan, which was connected with the other bank of the river Panj through the ford, where the biggest Porshnew village is situated. This village is popular for it's holy spring called " Pir Shonosir Chashma" , which comes from the tajik poet, philosopher, and the religious teacher Nosiri Khisrav, who came to Shugnan in the middle of XI cc. , where headed the Ismailith society and ended his life in the Yumgon village of Afgan Badakhshan. Traditionally the village of Porshnew was populated by Ismailith Peers,. (Authourities), who came here from Iran. In the settlement of Saroi Bahor, they organized the dispute of the poets, philosophers and the noble men. And here is the place of the tomb - mazor (cupola) of Piri Saidfarukhsho. This is not so big a square building, covered with staged wooden ceiling " Chorkhona" ,which has a beautiful calligraphic imprints with the image of mythological birds and plants, made by the local painter Shozodamamad. In Porshnev in the present time the jeweler workshop is functioning, where from the precious stones they produce souvenirs and decorations.
In 12 km from Porshnev, in both banks of the river Gunt and in it's confluence with Panj river, on the height of 2100 ms above sea level there is famous a Pamir Botanic Garden with it's unique flora, taken from the different parts of the planet.
From Khorog the road goes into two, running in Eastern Pamir area: one in the valley of the river Gunt, the other of the river Shokhdara. We proceed our road
along the river Gunt to inland Pamir by the modern asphalt road(as for the standards of the Soviet Union)" Khorog-Osh" . In 30kms from Khorog on a high sloppy rock, well-seen in the valley, in the village of Bogev, there is a well-excavated castle " Kofir-Kala" ,consisting of citadel, with the remains of two round temples with radius of 11 and 9 ms. Both temples had stone niches around the wall, stone monument in the middle. The temples were roofed by staged wooden ceilings with holes for the light. In combination with castle walls and the towers, the temples were publicly used main centre for worshipping of the sun. The tradition of making round planned erections with the solar symbols, was characteristic for sacs tombs of Eastern Pamir. Often, these round kurgans were surrounded by 1-2 walls. The diameter of some of them is about 60-63 ms. This kind of round erections connected with sun worshipping is typical for architectural history of Iranic people. For example in the book of " Avesto" king Yima (Jamshed" built round erection with three concentric fencing for saving of all living being from the world catastrophe. After the village Jelondy with it's some thermal springs for water treatment, the Koy-tezek pass(4271 ms) will start, leading to Eastern Pamir Plato ,to the sources of Gunt river, coming from picturesque lake Yashilkul.

EASTERN PAMIR (Tsunlin as for Chinese sources and "Imau" in the map of Ptolemy), sharply differs from the civilized Western Pamir. This is the vast stony Plato with the very few plants on the height of 3400-3500 ms, occupying more than 30. 000 sq. km(bigger than Belgium). Plato is in the shape of not deep plate, at the edges of which is surrounded by the mountain ranges with the height of 1000-1500 ms above it's surface. The slowly running rivers of Murgab, Alichur, Pamir, Muzcol, make many lakes, locating in extremely high altitudes: Turumtaykul lake(4216), Zorkul lake (4126), Karakul lake(3914).
The famous traveler Marco Polo was true in describing this region: " On traveling twelve days in the land called Pamir, where one cannot find neither a living shelter, nor a plant, and one should take food by himself. No birds here, because of height and cold. Because of great cold, the fire will flash unnatural and it is impossible to cook. "
Probably, one of the finest points of this region is
- the lake Sarez, situated in it's central part. Being a moraine type of the lake it was appeared after the earthquake of 18 February of 1911. The frequency of surface vibration was 8-9 balls according to Richter scale, and it resulted a gigantic avalanche with the volume of 2 billion cube. Km burring the village Usoi and closing the river. According to it's size the Usoi avalanche is one of the biggest in the world. It's height is about 600-700 ms, width 4 km and the length is 4. 5 km. The absolutely mark of the water level is 3265 ms, the square of the lake mirror is 80sq. km, the length of the bank line is 162 km, the length of the lake is 60,2 km, width 1. 44-3. 3 km, the depth is 500 ms, the amount of the water is 17 sq. km, which is equal to annual water of Amudarya river. Besides the Sarez lake, in Pamir ,there are more than 800 lakes of moraine, tectonic, ice-glacier type. Among them is the biggest the salty lake Karakul (Black-lake),with the square of 380 km and with the water amount of 26. 6 km.
In 40 km south from Sarez ,in the valley of the river Alichur, on the height of 3734 ms above sea level, there is a picturesque Yashilkul lake(Green-lake). It appeared in a very ancient times, as reports say ,local people seeing for several times camel like monster.

- Murgab destination:
The firm high mountain Plato was explored in stone age by the hot season hunters. The archeologist V. Ranov found 50 settlements of stone age. In the settlement of Aljilga on the high of the 3800 ms above sea level, there were found pethrogliphs with multishape compositions, having ceremonial meaning. (Sun-space shapes; horse-carts, men-animals). Horse and carts are often represented as the symbols of iranic sun goddess Mitra. Scientists connect these painting with indo-Arians, coming in the II cc. A. D to India. The most high mountain(4200 ms)stone age paintings were found in the walls of the cave Shakhti in 40 km from Murgab.
- Mountain Plato:
In X-III cc. the severe high mountain Plato was explored by the nomadic tribes of Iranic sacs, who left here their ancestors. From their tombs there were found metallic finds like: knives, bronze ceremonial boilers, deer’s, mountain goats, horses, made in famous dynamic mythological style expanded in the vast " skit desert territories from Dunai up to China. In II-I cc. A. D, sacs tribes moved to eastern areas of Greece-Bactrian, parts of them remained
- in Western Pamir, forming one of the orthogenesis of Pamir people.
The ethnonym of " sacs" was kept in some of the names of the regions of SAKNAN,SHAKHNAN(SHUGNAN),SAKASHAM,SKASEM (ISHKOSHIM),which is translated as" the country of sacs" . In the upper stream of the Bazardara tributary of the river Murgab, on the height of the 4200 ms above sea level, the high mountain town of miners of XI cc. ,as dug out. In the densely built settlement, among more than 80 living houses, there was a half-round fire temple and the caravanserai. The Bazardara town appeared in XI cc. ,during the silver crisis in Central Asia.
Our destination ends in the pass of Kulma on the border with China, opened in 1999
resembling the Great Silk Road, automobile road. On the top of the pass, as it was many years ago in the Chinese side the snow covered peak of Muztagata is seen as a lighthouse, showing the way to travelers.

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