Khorog, the capital of Pamir (Tajikistan)
Русская версия Let’s imagine that having some basic idea about Pamir and the permit to enter it, you found the way to get there too. In this case, you will start your acquaintance with this part of Tajikistan with the region capital, Khorog. Most probably you will reach it late in the evening and discover unusual landscapes only in the morning… and many tourists too.
Despite inconvenient transport, Pamir is a very popular destination. You will not be in shortage of hostels and breakfasts in them (around 3 dollars per meal, which is a lot for Tajikistan). In one of the hostels, we got to know its owner’s grandfather, Ali Mohammad Rajput. Grandfather spoke excellent British English: he turned out to be a professor with a PhD and the author of the book on life and work of a well-known 11 century missionary Hasan-I-Sabbah. Ali Mohammad lived and worked in Birmingham, and today represents the interests of Aga Khan IV , the spiritual leader of Nizari Ismailism, in Pamir. Aga Khan and other respected followers of a Nizari Ismailism are so popular in Pamir, that you will often encounter inscriptions made on the mountains to greet them at every visit.
The Sunday Khorog, as we saw it, is a dead town. Even the rate of dollar on Sunday is lower. Most of the few cafes and the information center are closed.
The only place throbbing with life is a central park, where children swim in a small pond.
Yet, we decided not to spend the time sitting and went to the nearby village (to the direction of Dushanbe, not far from the airport) to drink some healing water. The spring is considered to be so curative, that all the visitors drink from one cup – the benevolent viruses do not live here! There is some legend about water magically discovered in stone, but we do not remember it well, unfortunately.
Having some thuja berries from a nearby tree as a snack, we returned to Khorog by marshrutka (mini-bus) 1. Then, by marshrutka 3 from the bazaar, we drove to the Botanical Garden. The garden about 15 minutes walk from the final marshrutka stop. There were no ticket offices on the way, and some workers in the garden asked us for the tickets, we paid to them, yet, did not receive any tickets in return.
Khorog Botanical Garden is worth visiting on several reasons. First, this is the most high-altitude botanical garden in the former Soviet Union, which determines the peculiarities of the plants here and excellent views on Pamir and Khorog.
Moreover, the visitor may eat fruits and berries in the garden for free. We had some ripe apricots and berries.
On the way back, marshrutkas were not available any more, and we hitch-hiked to Khorog. Near our hostel, we watched the locals playing football.
Other sights of Khorog
include Afghan consulate, issuing visa depending on their mood (and Afghanistan is on the other side of the bridge) and Afghan Saturday market.
In general, the life in the city circulates around the bazaar, where you will get if crossing one of the river bridges.
We do not have any photo of the bazaar, but may assure you that at the market you may buy a special Pamiri hat, knitted Pamiri socks, and other souvenirs. Second, the bazaar is very important because the cars to nearby settlements start from here: towards the hot springs of Garam-Chashma, Dushanbe, or even Murgab. The next morning we used this possibility to continue our Pamir trip, proceeding to Ishkashim.
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