Tajikistan

This mountainous country sits at the heart of Central Asia and connects the Silk Road with China in the East and India in the South via its neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three of the major Silk Road routes ran through the current territory of Tajikistan, making it a key player in the historical caravan route. The Northern Route connected the Silk Road to Samarkand and Kashgar, the Karategin Road linked Termez and Kashgar and the Pamir Road linked up with Balkh and Tashkurgan. Like most of the countries at the heart of the Silk Road, Tajikistan became a multicultural hub with Persian, Greek, Chinese and Arabic visitors, who wrote about the Tajik contributions at the time between the 5th and the 12th centuries. Tajikistan is a country that is sometimes dubbed as being the roof of the world, thanks to its Pamir mountain range, along with parts of the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams and the Tien Shan touching Tajikistan in some way.

1000px-Tajikistan_in_its_region.svg

Cities

Dushanbe is Tajikistan’s capital city and by far the largest urban settlement in the area. Set to the dramatic mountain backdrop coupled with neo-classical buildings on tree-lined streets, Dushanbe is one of Central Asia’s more beautiful capitals. Khujand is the second city in the country and dates back to the 7th century BC, It was one of the important cities on the cross-roads of the Silk Road, since it marked a point where the route would branch off into a number of directions. The former grandeur of the city can still be seen in its citadel and its mausoleum to Sheikh Muslihitdin. Khorog may be a small mountain valley town, but it is actually the capital of the autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan region. The city boasts one of the brightest and best-educated populations in Central Asia and has three campuses of the University of Central Asia on its premises. It’s also serves as the gateway to the famous Pamir Highway.

Eat & drink

Qurotob is a traditional dish eaten from a communal plate. The name refers to the preparation method, where “qurut”, dried balls of salty cheese, are dissolved in water and poured over thin and flaky flatbread, which is then topped with fried onions and vegetables, and no meat is added to the dish. Plov is a dish you’ll find all over Central Asia, and Tajikistan is no exception. This national dish is made from rice, carrots and meat, all fried together in mutton fat or oil in a “quzan”, a wok-shaped cauldron over an open fire. It is often served communally from a large plate. Green tea accompanies every meal and a small amount is poured out and then back into the pot three times.

Do

The Pamir Highway is a spectacular road that was build by the Soviet military engineers in the 1930s, running between Khorog and Osh. It was off limits to travelers recently, but has reopened again, offering the brave the chance to explore the remote high-altitude road that traverses a high plateau populated by yaks and yurts, punctuated by deep lakes. Istaravshan is one of Tajikistan’s best-preserved towns. Istaravshan has seen its fair share of historical characters, including Alexander the Great.

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