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Climbing "Roof of the world"
Day 3. "Earthquake". Tajik "Orexiad"

Czech view At night there was a strong earthquake. "The Czech" small house hooted and creaked. In the morning we found out that epicenter of 6,2 points was in several hundreds kilometers from us, in Fergana valley of Uzbekistan and that earthquake had destructive consequences.

Having woken up and having armed with the camera I climbed on a dense-covered by coniferous trees mountain over the base. Having gone down, I found out my companions having breakfast in "shipan" - a six-sided arbor from a carved tree and carved columns. We liked carving very much and later, in the course of our travel we were convinced that there were hundreds of similar and much more skilful shipans in Tajikistan. And in general - at once it has been noticed that woodcarving art here is very developed from time immemorial as well as mosaic art. Many Soviet wall panels on end faces of usual four or five-storey apartment blocks and work of modern masters testify it as unprecedented beauty.

Lupa Capitolina Ustrushana The following point of our route - Penjikent. After score or two of kilometers of descent from Ohtangi and an access to the main road near "the Capitol she-wolf" of Ustrushan began lifting on Shahristansky pass, also named "Kitabsky". From Ohtang, through Kitabsky pass the distance to Penjikent (Panjekent, Panjakent) is 265 km. But the road, from a certain point (where "the Chinese" road turns to the tunnel under construction of the same Chinese people) is absolutely broken and it would be better to say the truth - the covering is completely absent and driving here is a real extreme; and not only because of potholes and absence of borders, but also because of an unimaginable dust in which the car rolls "knee-deep". However, it's of no use describing the road as in a month before the Independence Day of Tajikistan the tunnel will be open and the pass will be closed forever.

An entrance to the tunnel However we were lucky - it shook us for 2.5 hours on total impassability contemplating absolutely sad and dusty high-mountainous landscape where observation of numerous Chinese workers erect on absolutely steep slopes huge support for power transmission line which should connect the South to the North was the unique interesting moment and give to the North full independence in maintenance with the electric power. It's already the second turn. Shining on slope "metallic" columns of the first, operating since recent time already entered surrounding landscape. And so, at erection of these huge columns on abrupt slopes neither helicopters, nor any special equipment are used and the most usual thin is windlass with the cables thrown through precipices and power of hundreds small groups of workers-Chineses, in helmets and uniform. Here and there were observed their modest tent small towns both dirty and shabby field-kitchens, whence continually someone ran out with "a rice cup".

Chinese constructors Later we were convinced that Chineses construct roads, tunnels, power transmission line and other communications in Tajikistan everywhere, everywhere any inscriptions and indexes were on Chinese, and we ourselves were witnesses how their construction foremen and other "technical intelligences" already fluently spoke Tajik - you have to agree that it's absolutely different language for them. So this is the way Heavenly Empire approaches to Central Asia carrying out the old dream of its gain. And now fire and swords are of no use as economic levers are more effective for this purpose …
A place where tandir-kabob is preparing
Before road turn on under construction tunnel there is a small teahouse where on fir-trees coals people cook tandyr-kabob so gentle and tasty that it is possible to agree with advertising and opinion of our companions asserting that this is the tastiest tandyr-kabob in the world. They get kabob every 4 hours from the hole dug in the earth (tandir) where mutton is baked in the coals, strong sealed to top clay, whence it's actually dug out every time.

Apricot paradise Behind a very tall and not raising imagination pass goes a long descent with apricot and dry fruit bazaar - a paradise for fruit fan. Here we bought a bucket of the sweetest apricots, we ate them several days on the way, and also dried mulberry - a very tasty thing and one of "souvenirs" which can be brought home both as a gift and treat.

The bracer On the broken road we went to a place of an exit from the tunnel where already new and smooth "Chinese" road leads to picturesque, by sight tiny kishlak, which pise-walled tilt carts as though grow from mountain on which slope it is placed. Further goes already not so "Chinese" road through settlements and along the river Zarafshan and leads to Penjikent.

Here we were met by our very old friend and partner Muhammadrasul Sharifbadalov - ace in tourism, the owner of one of the oldest and largest local travel agencies, national restaurant and operating old Soviet hotel "Intourist" where we were kindly offered to stay overnight.

Historical museum in Penjikent After placing in the hotel we together with Muhammadrasul went on survey of sights of this ancient place. We began with very interesting Museum of History named after Rudakiy with ancient, pre-Islamic fresco, antique sculptures, subjects of life and national crafts. Entrance fee to the museum is 3$.

Sarazm settlement Further we went out of town and went along tobacco fields towards border with Uzbekistan, where on distance of 15 km from Penjkent excavation of a site of ancient settlement of Sarazm is located - as it is considered one of the most ancient cities of the world (apprx. 5500 years), since 2010 entering into the list of the World heritage sites of UNESCO.

Ve-e-ery tasty pilau of Penjikent After Sarazm we returned to the city and visited a site of ancient settlement Ancient Penjikent where before evening hour an enthusiast - keeper of the museum who has appeared from nowhere gave us the most interesting excursion on ruins, excavation and the museum. Excursion with entrance fee to the museum cost 3$.

For supper we had Penjikent plov, ordered specially for us. Their plov differs from other kinds with special friability of rice (by the way, the rice is local and grown up on right solar fields of the river bank of Zaravshan). We cracked a bottle with Sharifbadalov, talked about tourism, about plans for advancement of the Tajik tourist's product and went to bed early as there was a difficult route the next day.

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