Pamirs of Tajikistan

May 31 , 2020

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UMAIR HASAN

Pamirs of Tajikistan

I have spent  last few days in the Pamirs of Tajikistan. Visiting Pamirs had been a long dream for me that has now finally come true, Alhamdulillah. This has been the best time of the trip so far with some of the world’s most fascinating landscape and amazing people.

Pamirs have been known as bam-e-duniya (world’s rooftop). This area is part of the Gorno-Badakhshan semi autonomous area of Tajikistan and borders Afghanistan’s Wakhan belt. A special GBAO permit is required to visit Pamirs. This permit can be applied with visa and is easily granted now. Riding along Pamir highway is definitely a treat to have. This road runs along Afghan border till Khorog, which is region’s capital. Together with Afghanistan’s Wakhan, this place offers some of the most mesmerizing landscapes and mountains in the world. Pamir highway further continues towards Mughrab from where onward journey can be continued towards China or Kyrgystan. We have to head back to Dushanbe tomorrow however.

From Darvaza, the starting point of Pamirs, Afghanistan border runs along the road in the form of Panj river. The contrast of road infrastructure and standard of living is very visible throughout the travel along with border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Afghans access their area through Qunduz and Faizabad, Capital of Badakhshan and is at 10-12 hrs of drive away from Kabul. Initially, I was thinking to cross into Tajikistan from this side of Afghanistan but later dropped due to uncertainties in and around Faizabad.

An Afghan village across the Panj river

We have been hosted by local Pamiri families in the region that has given us a unique insight into their life and culture. This region has indeed some unmatched hospitality to offer. Strangers treat you like some of their own specially in the side villages. Local food is simple yet so amazing, combined with their love makes this whole experience something very unique. 

 

Shuhrat, our host in the Pamirs of Tajikistan. Amazingly helpful, respectful. He along with his entire family has shown us a different level of hospitality we had rarely experienced before. He was introduced to us through his cousin, Amonbek, a Couchsurfer in Dushanbe who took care of us there and handed us over to Shuhrat in Pamirs. We spent our second Dushanbe night at Amonbek’s place where he lives with his parents and his brother, Farman.

We spent first Pamir night at Shuhrat’s uncle place in the Ems village up on the way to Jazaif in their traditional Pamiri house. From inside the houses are impressive, much better built and structured from their counterparts I have seen in Pakistan’s North. For the dinner, we were served Sheer Choi – salted tea served with bread and nuts. Sheer Choi is the national Pamiri dish they say. Next day, Shuhrat showed us areas around Khorog. 

 

Shuhrat with his uncle and aunt, out hosts in Ems village
Shuhrat, out host in Pamir

Khorog City

 

We were passing by this village where I asked Rushan can we get tea from here? He stopped the very first guy we saw on road, and the next minute we know we were inside their Pamiri home where this guy Dildor lived with his old mother and a sister. It turned out to be a very special hi-tea that we will remember forever, with cream, yougart, cherry jam, biscuits, cookies and bread of course. And amazing hospitality experience of a lifetime.

We spent our second night in Pamir at Shuhrat’s place in Rushan, where his wife prepared a delicious local dish Damlama for us, made of meat, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. After dinner, Shuhrat took us to the English language class he is taking within the community. Soon, we were the teachers talking and interacting with students who ranged from 15 to 65 years of age. It turned out to be a very interesting and fun-filled session.


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