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There is a truly amazing place in Central Asia where both four of the greatest mountain systems in Asia would form a single node – Hindu Kush, Himalayas, Kuen LUN and Tien Shan, upper reaches of the four  wonderful Asian rivers-Indus,       Amu-Darya, Syr-Darya and Tarim – and the political borders of four States-Tajikistan, India, and China and Afghanistan.

This is a place like no other part of the world, with since ancient times, it attracted travelers. Called it is "Pamir". 

The Pamir is a high plateau that stretches for 300 kilometers in longitude and 250 kilometers in latitude. Its lengths are raised at an altitude of 3500-4500 meters above sea level. Huge snowballs the zaalaysky, Kashgar and Hindu Kush ridges, like walls, are sharply enclose the Pamir from the North, East and South.



On the northwestern border of the Pamirs, the highest peaks of Tajikistan - Somoni peak (7495 meters), Lenin peak (7134 m) and Korzhenevsky peak (7105 meters) and etc. Somoni peak is much higher than many famous peaks of the world: Elbrus in the Caucasus (5630 m), Gaurizankar in the Himalayas (7150 m), Mont Blanc in the Alps (4810 m), Peak Mack Kinley in the Cordilleras, in  North America (6187 m), Aconcagua peak in the Andes, in South America (7040 m).

In the eastern part of the Pamir Highlands, at an altitude of 4000 m lies a lake Zor Kul. Flat ground on which the lake and the whole a small valley surrounded by mountains carries two inhabitants the estate. The first name is Bomi Dunyo, which means Roof of the World, the second "Pamir". The river flowing out of the lake is called Pamir - Daria.

Only this high place is called Pamir by the surrounding inhabitants, but European geographers began to call the entire highlands Pamir. The first absolutely remarkable description of the "Roof of the world" is made about fourteen hundred years ago. Chinese traveler the Buddhist Xuanzang in 643 ascended to the banks of Zor Kul and so he told about what had appeared to his  startled eyes:

" The Po – mi – lo valley (Pamir) lies between snow-capped mountains. Therefore its climate is cold, and the winds blow constantly. Snow falls in summer and in the spring. Day and night the wind is fierce. The soil is saturated salt and covered with sand and pebbles. Seeds sown do not grow. Bushes and trees are rare. The desert stretches over the desert, nowhere inhabitants. In the middle of the Po – mi - lo valley lies a large dragon's nest  lake (Zor-Kul). It extends from East to West-300 Li and from South to North-50 Li. This is a very high place. Lake water transparent and clean as a mirror. It is impossible to measure its depth. The color of the lake is dark blue, the water is fresh and soft. In the depths nest a variety of monsters. Floating on the surface wild ducks and geese. Large eggs are hidden in coastal swamps and on sandy Islands. The river begins at the Western end of the lake, current to the West…»


Xuan - Zan speaks of the Pamir - Daria River, below it merges with by the river Wakhan - Daria. The merged rivers are called Panj. On the a stretch of 700 kilometers flows Pyanj, between high snow ridges and breaking into the plain, takes the Vakhsh river on the right. Below the confluence of the Vakhsh river is already called Amu-Darya. Total length Panja-Amu-Darya – 2500 kilometers. The Amu Darya flows through Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and flows into the Aral sea. This is the longest and most water-rich river in all of Central Asia. It played a huge role in the history of the Central Asian peoples. She was it is known to the ancient Greeks, who called it Oxus. But the origins Amu-Darya and Zor – Kul lakes remained unknown for a long time, mysterious places.

Six centuries after the Chinese Explorer Xuanzang, in 1298, the great pilgrim Marko ascended the Pamir- Darya Polo, but whether he reached the source of it, we do not know. And in another 300 years in 1603, the Jesuit Benedict Goes made his way through the Pamirs. His stories about the Pamir way are sparse and confused. And only in 1838 on "Roof of the world" appeared the first Explorer and geographer Englishman Wood. On February 19, at 5 PM, he went to the shores of Zor-Kul.   A mysterious lake lay before him, hidden by a thick layer of ice and snow. Wood and his companions felt agonizing bouts of mountain sickness diseases. Travelers were forced to leave the " Roof of the world ", not

after completing their research. But still wood is the first in the history of the new time paved the way to the sources of Amu-Darya. After wood, England, Russia, and other European States, interested in opening new lands began to send on the trail  

Wood's own expeditions to the Pamirs. Before the world war imperialist war more than 25 scientific and military expeditions  visited the Eastern Pamir.



The Pamir Highlands is divided into two parts: Pamir - eastern and Pamir - west. They differ sharply from each other in both relief and climate and population. The population in the eastern Pamirs is rare - it is mainly nomadic Kyrgyz cattle farmers and Pamiri. They breed sheep, horses, camels,

yaks and kutasov. Kutasy - stunted, horny bulls. Winter snows and blizzards make the path through the Pamir mountains dangerous paths, but sensitive, intelligent yaks unmistakably find their way, scramble with a heavy load or with a rider on his back wherever a horse, not a camel, could never have passed. In eastern  Pamirs have a regional center, the village of Murghab at an altitude of 3600 meters.

Previously, the Silk Road ran through this village, to the side Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. In the Eastern Pamir, there are a lot of mountain lakes: Lake

Karakul, Sarez lake, Zaroshkul lake, Chapdarkul lake, lake

Yashilkul, etc. In many Pamir lakes, at an altitude of more than 4000 meters

there are a lot of large and delicious fish here. Wildlife The Eastern Pamir is rich and unique. There are bears, they here black, but small. There are wolves, light, snow leopard, hares, lots of groundhogs. Steep-horned argali sheep and kiiki mountain goats roam the high Alpine pastures in herds.

Local people pile their horns in heaps at the sacred burial grounds - mazarov. Innumerable flocks of wild geese, ducks, waders inhabit lake shores, rocks deftly run mountain partridges-kabk, and amazingly sensitive guard turkeys-ulars. The Western Pamir presents a completely different picture. This no longer a desert highlands, but a mountainous country with a large population settled population.

The rivers of the Western Pamir, running lower and lower, gather in the Central main valley of it. This valley stretches from East to West and separates the Pamir mountain junction from the Hindu Kush chains. The Panj river flows through it. The right Bank of the Panj belongs to Tajikistan, the left Bank belongs to Afghanistan. The narrow Panj valley is inhabited by several ethnic groups; the most important of them vacancy, ishkashimtsy, goronzy, elegance, yazgulami, and Tajiks. They are all native farmers. The Western Pamir is poor in land, every tiny piece of it was won from the mountains with great perseverance and hard work. They sowed peas, barley, wheat, etc. Crops are raised up to a height of 3700 meters. The houses are built of wild stone, with one large room in the middle and many dark cells, each of which has its own meaning and extensions around, these are simple large buildings without Windows, although there is an amazing window in the middle of the ceiling that opens up miraculously. These Windows are closed during bad weather.



Highlanders  of the Western Pamir are beautiful strong people. They make long marches in the most difficult conditions with amazing endurance and courage. They are friendly and welcoming. Pamir highlanders are black-haired, dark-eyed, but there are also fair-haired, light-eyed people who look very similar to Russians. Women wear loose long dresses, a colored scarf covering the head and shoulders. They never covered their faces with burqas. They are responsible for the care of livestock and dairy farming. In winter they weave soft wool and knit the famous woolen stockings - jurabi. Colorful pattern Zurabov, sophisticated and beautiful, represent one of the best examples of folk art.

Each nationality of the Panj valley in the Western Pamirs has its own language completely incomprehensible to its neighbors; however, with all its differences, the Wahan, Ishkashim, Shugnan and Yazgulyam languages form a single family of languages, which in science is usually called the Pamirian group of languages. For communication among themselves, the multilingual peoples of the Panj Valley use a special dialect of the Persian language. Due to the numerous conquests in Badakhshan, here, the influences of several ancient world cultures collided: Greek, Indian, Iranian and Arab.Along the banks of the Amu Darya, in the second century BC, the so-called “Silk Road” passed along the silk trade between the Roman Empire and China.

In the XI century ad, the famous persian poet Nosiri Khusrau settled in Badakhshan. Here he spent the rest of his life, devoting it to preaching the mystical Islamic teaching of "Ismailism". Followers of the "Ismailis" -United in a secret sectarian organization and believed that the head of this sect, the Aga Khan, is the living God on earth. After Nasiri of Khusrau Ismailism spread quickly in Badakhshan, especially among the Pamir peoples in the valley of the Panj. To this day, there is a living God, the Aga Khan, and all Ismailis worship him. Once a year, they collected Ishan from the inhabitants of all Badakhshan, a huge tax and sent it by caravan to India, to the court of the living God Aga Khan. It was supposed to be paid in gold or silver. After the October revolution, the Ishan disappeared from the Soviet Bank of the Panj, but the custom of paying an annual tribute to the Aga Khan gradually weakened, lasted for a long time and stopped only in the most recent years of our time. In Badakhshan, Afghanistan, a rich caravan is sent to India every year, multiplying the treasures of the"living God". The current living God Aga Khan is more than sixty years old, he wears a black tailcoat and a snow-white turban, and he lives in England.



“ Roof of the World ” The Eastern Pamir, together with the Western Pamir, belongs to Tajikistan and forms the territory of the Tajik Mountain Badakhshan Region (GBAO). Its area is 55,000 sq. Km. The total length of the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is about 1000 km, of which 700 km pass along the banks of the Panj.

Parallel to Panju, stretches south and the border of India. The territory of Afghanistan is like a narrow passage, which is called the Wahang corridor, laid between India and Tajikistan. The bottleneck is against the Tajik village of Langar, there are only 10 - 12 km. in a straight line separates the Tajik border from India.

The panja valley is the most interesting and economically developed part of the entire Tajik Badakhshan. In this valley, there are remarkable traces of hoary antiquity and especially clearly marked the successes achieved by man in the struggle for a new, joyful life, in the difficult struggle against the harsh mountain nature and against the old, firmly established way of life.

On the territory of the Tajik part of little Vakhan – the easternmost region of the Panj valley – there are remarkable monuments of ancient times – the ruins of five large castles. The first castle was built on a rock about 30 meters high, at the confluence of the Pamir Darya and Vakhan Darya. At the confluence of these two rivers and several streams, the Panj river is formed. The rock rises above the small Wakhan village of Hisor, which means "fortress". The mud walls of the castle at its base reach a thickness of more than two meters. Ten kilometers below the village of Zong, the second fortress, Zangi-Bar, it is built of wild stone. From here you can see the large village of Kalai Panj, the modern capital of the Afghan Wakhan, on the Afghan side near the coast. The third castle stands at the confluence of the rapid river Wrang into the Panj.

Thick walls, powerful towers with loopholes indicate that this fortress was once strong and impregnable. Next to it, in a sheer cliff, there is a whole cave city. Several dozen caves are cut out in soft rocks. Each cave is a small room, without internal passages. Their inhabitants apparently communicated by means of wooden ladders that ran from cave to cave. Who lived in them and when is unknown.

Two hours of travel separates the Enemy from the village of Yamchun lying downstream. Against it on the Afghan side of the largest village of Wakhan Handout. Have Amchine, on a high hill, are the ruins of the ancient fortress "Freeze Otashparast". The remains of the towers are clearly visible. Some have been preserved almost entirely. There were more than twenty of them.

Above the village of Namatgut, on the border of Vakhan and the neighboring region of Ishkashim, are the ruins of a fortress no less powerful than Zamri Otashparast. It is called "Kaaka." The time of construction of all these fortresses and the fate of their rulers is unknown. Guesses of scientists attribute them to the first centuries of our era.


To the west of Wahan on both banks of the Panj lies a small area of Goron. It is part of Ishkashim district. The city dwellers speak a very pure Persian dialect. The Goron dialect is very close to the Tajik language. Goron is famous for its ancient mines, where the best Badakhshan rubies-lalas and ruby spinel (a thick red transparent mineral similar to a ruby) were mined. Mines are punched at the foot of a sheer cliff facing Panj. Under the cliff on the water-rich green terrace lies the village of Kui-Lal (Ruby Mountain).

From the village of Kui-Lal, a hiking trail rises up the side gorge. A few hours of unusually steep climb and the traveler goes to a large terrace covered with a carpet of green grass. This is Lithuanian Hine. It is located at an altitude of 3090 meters above sea level. Herds of small-sized cows are thrown here for the whole summer from several Goron villages. From the Lithuanian Hine, one of those amazing mountain views opens up onto the Panja Valley, which fall into memory for a lifetime. Only from here is the whole Afghan Goron visible - Goroni Bolo. Goroni Bolo is located on the terrace, lying at a height of at least 1000 meters above the level of Panj. A huge sheer cliff descends from the edge of the terrace to Panj itself.


Below the Goron lies the Shugnan region. Near the Shugnan border, the Panj valley becomes very narrow, turns into a gloomy gorge, the flow here is rapid and stormy, only after 60 km Pyanj is freed from the compressed mountains and again spreads over a wide valley at the confluence of the Gunt River. Three kilometers from the confluence of the Gunt in Pyanj, on the bank of the Gunt, stands at an altitude of 2200m above sea level Khorog is the administrative center of the Gorno-Badakhshan region and the Shugnansky district.

Shugnan is the largest district of Tajik Badakhshan. Three large rivers flow along it: Shokhdara, which falls into the Gunt just above Khorog and the stormy Bartang. All the Shugnan valleys are densely populated.

In Shugnan, the irrigation system, horticulture, agriculture and cattle breeding are well developed. Many kilometers of canals are laid with the greatest art on the slopes of the rocky mountains. Khorog is the center of the autonomous region and the Shugnan region.

Chains of high parallel ridges are perpendicular to the riverbed. Between them, narrow and deep slots of the side gorges flow through them into the Panj fast rivers. The famous Bartang is the largest of them. Bartang originates in the depths of the Eastern Pamirs and flows into the Panj 45 kilometers below the mouth of Gunt. Previously, crossing Bartang was carried out on camels, not a single horse with a rider can overcome the swift current of its icy water. There are many villages in the Bartang Valley. The paths of Bartang enjoyed gloomy fame even among badakhshans accustomed to impassability. At present, the highway has been laid up Bartang; during the melting of snow and glaciers, the road is closed every year for almost a month due to high water levels. Behind Bartang lies the wall of the Yazgulyam Range.

The border of GBAO passes along it, further Tajikistan. Below is the green valley of the Yazgulyama River, which flows into the Panj. The Yazgulyamites are the last nationality of the Pamir group, the next parallel valley of the Vanja is wide and fertile. Since ancient times, iron mining has existed in it, and local blacksmiths forge good blades from it. The right side of the Vanja is bounded by the Darwaz Range.

The Yazgulyamsky, Vanjsky and Darvazsky ridges extend parallel to each other from the northeast to the southwest. All three ranges come out of the Garmo mountain junction. At the eastern edge of the Garmo node lies the Fedchenko Glacier. This is one of the longest glaciers of the globe, its length is about 72 km. At the foot of the Darvaz Range on the banks of the Panj, there is a small village of Ushkhari. Here Pyanj reaches its limit point in the north, it flows further west for about 20 km and then turns south again. At this turn is Kalaykhumb, a large village pressed by the mountains to the water itself, the former capital of the Darvaz shahs and now the center of the Darvaz region of Tajikistan.

Darvaz is poor in land. Rocks and stones are everywhere. Sweet grapes, peaches, figs, apricots, here, pomegranates, etc. abundantly grow in the low villages of Panj.

Darvaz is connected with Dushanbe by two highways. One goes through the Shurobot pass and the city of Kulyab, the other through the Khoburab pass and the Tavildara gorge, through the Darvaz ridge. Thirty kilometers of continuous steep rise to the north along this road leads to a high pass point through the Darvaz Range. At the northern slopes of the Darvaz Range, the Hingou River (Blue Water) flows. The muddy gray-blue waters of Hingou are rich in gold.

The village of Tavil - Dary, lying on its left bank, merges with Surkhob (Red Water), forming the Vakhsh River.

Impressions of great strength await someone who, on foot, on horseback, by plane, by car, enters the various corners of Tajikistan!!!

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