The mountains of Tajikistan

“Here we have Ismaïlites Muslims, followers of the Aga Khan, and who have little in common with the rest of Tajikistan … The Russians put the border on river Panj, but our region extends on both sides of the river, both Tajikistan and Afghanistan.”

Thanks to the Aga Khan, Khorugh has an airport and modern buildings and two bridges that were built to cross the river in 2003. three additional bridges were built later for a total of five.

mountains-of-tajikistan
The mountains of Tajikistan

Text & Photos: Xavier Moret Updated 27/11/2016 00:00

It is one of the most mysterious and little known in Central Asia, with a story that refers to the exploits of Alexander the Great, the great Sufi poets and less, of Soviet communism

Tajikistan is, so to speak, a so-called stans, a former Asian Soviet republics that nobody knows exactly where to locate on the map. In fact, the vast territory of Central Asia was in the nineteenth century, the scene of a conflict of interest between two great empires, the British and Russian, in what is called The Great Game – an intrigue full of spies, adventurers and explorers quick to exploit the will of the people to gain an upper hand in territorial expansion and influence.

It was the Soviets who drew up the borders to the colonial way; that is, without considering the people who lived there. This explains why one valley, the Fergana, is divided among three countries: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

True to their style, the Soviets renamed Dushanbe Stalinabad (the City of Stalin). In 1961, however, Stalin disgraced and the city recovered its original name – Dushanbe.

Dushanbe is a pleasant city with signs in Cyrillic, an avenue that bears the name of a poet of the tenth century Rudakí, wooded parks, a beautiful opera, and a new monumental center which include government buildings and a giant flagpole.

… The conversation drifted to the excellence of Sufi literature (the Faredun is an expert) and changes in Tajikistan in recent years. “The nineties were difficult because of the civil war he recordar-, and before I had to go to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet troops. They were not easy times, but now everything is better, but the future of Central Asia is now a big question.”

Dependence on Russia and the vicinity of China suggest that the region will suffer convulsions the coming years, especially if we consider the presence in some former Soviet republics of radical Islamists.

Faredun warned me that there were few tourists in Tajikistan and failing infrastructure. “The fact that it is a mountainous country with 50% of the territory above 3,000 meters, it makes it easy,” he added. “The mountains are beautiful, but they are also barriers. We have peaks over 6,000 meters, such as Communism Peak (now Ismail Samani), the Lenin (now Avicenna) and Karl Marx. Traces of Communism still noticeable in Tajikistan, but I prefer to think of distant times of Alexander the Great and the Sufi poets. “

Before leaving, the Faredun gave me a book in English of Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian poet considered one of the peaks of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam. Stressed in a phrase: “Where there is ruin, there is also the hope of finding a treasure.”

When I began the journey northward I realized that, in fact, almost everything is in Tajikistan mountains. You get a tip up and down, only to discover that, after leaving behind a mountain, you have to start up the next.

We reached Khorugh, the capital of the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, where the landscape opened in a fertile valley. We were at 2200 meters high and people are very friendly here. In 2012, however, there was a clash between guerrillas and the army that caused forty deaths. That must be why we still need a visa to enter.

“Here we  have Ismaïlites Muslims, followers of the Aga Khan, and who have little in common with the rest of Tajikistan …The Russians put the border on river Panj, but our region extends on both sides of the river, both Tajikistan and Afghanistan.”

Thanks to the Aga Khan, Khorugh has an airport and modern buildings and two bridges that were built to cross the river in 2003. three additional bridges were built later for a total of five.

From Khorugh the track advances towards the Wakhan corridor, a beautiful valley two hundred kilometers long that evokes infinite spaces. There, centuries ago passed the caravans of the Silk Road. The ruins of a few show their strength, especially in Lamtxun, proving their historical importance, while the remains of a stupa and Buddhist shrines Zoroastrians make it clear that everything is different in that region.

When I leave behind the Wakhan corridor, I climb into the mountains leading to Murghab, I stopped the car to direct one last look at the point where the Pamir mountains and the Hindu Kush. Those towering mountains that define different worlds, leaving a corridor that leads towards Pakistan and China … this could well be the heart of Central Asia.

The temperature had dropped below freezing, there was snow and desolation around me, but the sky was deep blue, wonderful, just as he had seen in Mongolia.

The silence was absolute, pure air and solitude granite. It was then, while admiring the peaks over six thousand meters when I remembered a phrase from that my friend Faredun, the Rumi scholar told me  “Do not ever feel alone, all the universe is within you.”

Discover, Explore and Learn more via ARA | Per les muntanyes del Tadjikistan => The mountains of Tajikistan


Translation, Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali


2 thoughts

  1. This is a beautiful exposition by the author of the relatively recent history(going back say a thousand years) of this breathtaking mountainous region of Central Asia.
    I also find fascinating the very very remote history of all the very high mountains of the entire area starting with China’s Tien Shans in the north and then, as we go further south, the Pamirs, Hindu Kush, Himalayas and Karakorums, among others.
    50 million years ago a very large land mass broke off from Southern Africa and Madagascar and began a 5 million year journey in an arc-shaped direction northward. It was the entire Indian subcontinent taking a slow boat to China to put it poetically. 45 million years ago(ie 5 million years after beginning its epic journey) the Indian subcontinental land mass did a slow-motion hard slam into the soft underbelly of Asia, A PROCESS THAT IS STILL OCCURING TODAY!! The collision raised up all those high mountains I mentioned earlier and
    Mount Everest of the Himalayas continues to rise up by about one inch every year.
    This effect of this slow-motion slamming of the Indian subcontinent into Asia’s soft underbelly also had global effects far and wide: On the other side of the world the gargantuan Pacific Plate was re-oriented in such a way that the Hawaiian Islands, which formerly formed from pure north to pure south as the Pacific Tectonic Plate moved upwards over the Hawaiian hotspot, now form from northwest to southeast in direction. This change in direction so far away began 45 million years ago at the same time the the Indian subcontinent slammed into Asia in the Indian Ocean!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s