Tajikistan: the Heart of Central Asia
January 1, 1970
Tajikistan. What is this country?
There aren’t many people who know anything about Tajikistan and Central Asia in general. But that is a mistake, I’m sure. There is a lot to be interested of in this part of our Planet. First of all, this is a rare landscape which not many Western people have ever seen: the steppes combined with mountains are the characteristics of this region, the climate is hard there, in the summer in some places You even aren’t able to breathe because of the heat and dryness. But this makes the people strong there. Then, the culture, the mix of Turkic, Iranian and Chinese cultures makes it hard to understand the native roots of folks. And that’s why that is so astonishingly attractive – to travel Tajikistan or other Central Asia country and to know it
The way to Tajikistan
So, let’s begin here! First of all, how to get there? That’s simple, (There is a note! I do not know how to do it from the USA or Australia) but may take some extra money.
- Visa. Russian citizens (and the most of the people of the CIS except for Uzbeks and Turkmens) do not need any visa to Tajikistan, but this is a resource for Western people, so I’ve done some research. The inhabitants of Australia, USA, Mexica, Argentina, Cuba, Canada, New Zealand, Singapur, Brazil, South Africa, Chile and all of the countries-members of EU may enter Tajikistan easily. There are two ways now. First – You may get visa straight in the airport of Dushanbe/Khujand. Second way – You can get an electronic visa via this site. The duration of permitted travel in both variants is 45 days.
- How to get there exactly? – That’s also not too hard. Nowadays there are so many sites, where You can find cheap tickets and guides that I do not dare to advise You on this matter. Only I’d give You two links which I use: Aviasales and Vandrouki. Excuse me if they are only in Russian, actually I do not know about the English language at Vandrouki, but Aviasales use English (and many other languages too) for sure.
- That’s all. You’re there!
What is Tajikistan? It’s the land of Aryans, the land of the kind and very specific people who are interesting exactly because of their rare features which You won’t meet anywhere in Europe or any other “civilised” country. First of all, I need to mention the Natur, which is composed mainly of mountains and steppes combined in a very specific way, which is usual only for Central Asia. You will continuously walk up and down, uup and doown during Your Tajik trip. And everywhere You will think how beautiful are those places and what do they contain except the stones and resources. The answer isn’t simple. It’s deep in the ancient time when the gods of our ancestors were building exactly the same mountains You’re adoring by now. They have laid there the manhood and bravery, glory and valour which were carefully inherited by the people inhabiting those places and then – it was carried in all the lands which are now the countries of Indo-Aryan speaking nations. That is the homeland of Aryans, their gestalt, and beloved motherland.
The traditions of family building and public relations take their roots firstly in Aryan past and secondly in Islam. The former we can distinguish in respecting farming and cattle breeding, in the altitude with fire and other elements of Nature, which are some kind sacred for people. The latter root, the Islam is mostly seen in such things as weddings, births, and deaths. Also, the mosques and muezzins, which sing five times a day there (except for the places where people want to sleep longer). You will see the old men who are walking with turbans on their heads through the streets, the women in traditional Islamic clothes (but few).
And the third base of Tajik mentality lies into the XX century, in the Soviet past. For example, it influenced the clothes. The women wear exactly Soviet clothes, which was made up in the very beginning of Red Empire, the old men wear the hats which seem to be extremely traditional, but also were designed in the Soviet time. The traditions of governance and transport lines are also the inheritance of the USSR and the earlier times combined (For example, the nowadays President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon was a head of a kolkhoz previously, which was OK for the Soviet Union and sometimes also for the Middle Age period).
Now people officially confess Islam religion, but I haven’t seen the real practice of Islam there. People drink a lot, they rare or never go to the mosque. That’s a pity because there we don’t see the similarities with Western countries. If there the religion was also abandoned, there have appeared some techniques and sciences and all such things which take the place of religion in people’s mind. But here we see nothing like that. The rural dwellers still confess Islam, that’s right. And that’s a useful way for them to control themselves, but the citizens have forgotten about all the laws and duties which they must obey due to their Islamic religion, so they leave those cities and try to find their happiness in other countries. That’s the signs of mental crisis of Tajikistan and other lands of Central Asia.
Panjakent and its neighbourhoods
The town Panjakent with its neighbourhood is the capital of Tajikistan Archaeology. The town itself is small, only 10000 people live there, but it’s an important place to the history of the whole country. The researched Bronze Age site is here, the best researched Middle Age site is also here. There are the Turkmen mountains in the depths of which are the incredible petroglyphs and mountain rivers.
You can get to Panjakent by taxi from Dushanbe or Khujand, the driver won’t take a lot of money, especially if You’re kind to him (that’s one good feature of Tajiks – they judge people by their doings and their words, not by things which they’ve heard about them). Harder is the situation with staying there, and I can’t advise You properly there (I have lived on the archaeological base for the whole month I’ve been to this country), but You can always ask Your driver – he will guide You.
The history of Panjakent is marvellous. The city of Trans-Asian merchants and interpreters, the rich and wealthy one was invaded last of the Iranian cities by Arabs and their Islam at the beginning of VIII century.
Now, the city has moved from the hill to the lowland of the Zeravshan river, and that is good for archaeological research of this ancient city. So, You know, Panjakent, maybe one of the most famous places in this country was for the archaeologists and other educated well people a town of dramatically beautiful murals. Actually, You can find some of them here and read about the Panjakent more here and view some videos about this city here.
One fascinating city is also Istaravshan. It’s on the halfway from Panjakent to Khudzhand. There are the well-known tight streets of The Middle East and some secret closed mosques and medreses, which are hard to find and hard to forget. Thanks to our guide (and colleague) we could find them easily speaking to the kids on the streets.
So, I beg Your excuse if I haven’t written a worthy article, but I’ll try to complete this one by the others, which I will write in future about the Central Asia tourism.