Wakhan Valley: Yamchun Fortress and Bibi Fatima Hot Springs (Pamir, Tajikistan)
Русская версия Having spent a day and a night in Tuggoz, in the morning we started looking for the transport to Yamchun fortress and Bibi Fatima hot springs, encountered the inadequate prices for getting there by local cars and decided to go on foot. It was 7-8 kilometer walk up to the mountains, the only trouble was the hot sun, but we were not afraid of difficulties.
How to get.
On our way up to the fortress and the hot springs we encountered many incredible dwellers of Pamir.
The Pamiris also continued to surprise us with their hospitality: on our way they invited us to have tea in their homes for three times. By the way, we gave up trying to drink the bottled water only: it was not available in the shops, as for the locals, getting water from the mountain sources, this is the waste of money. We also started to drink mountain water and did not experience any problems.
On our way we encountered graveyards. The holes are made in the graves for the memorial fire, so that the wind does not blow it out.
On the opposite side the Pakistani mountains opened up.
Finally, we reached the fortress of Yamchun built in the I century BC. This is the strongest fortress of Wakhan valley preserved till now. It had three circles of double walls up to 950 meters long and up to 400 meters wide, forty towers and a citadel on the hill. The Yamchun fortress is also called the “fortress of faithless” or the “castle of fire-worshippers“, as it belonged to Zoroastrians (fire-worhippers), had the Zoroastrian temple on its territory and had been founded before Islam had come to Pamir.
Behind the fortress there is a sanatorium, the major job-provider for the locals. You may also rent a room here for about 30 somonis, but this is not necessary taking into account the hospitality of Pamirians: anyone will host you for free here.
One kilometre from the sanatorium you’ll find the hot springs Bebi Fatima.
The entrance fee is 10 somonis. The hot springs is divided into male and female parts; we have the photo of the male part only, while the female part looks more natural (with stones rather than concrete). The harmony of the female part compared to the male one is not occasional: the source is named after the daughter of Prophet Muhammad and it is considered that bathing in the hot springs raises female fertility.
The temperature of the water is about 40 degrees, the water is medicinal.
After bathing, the visitors put on more clothes not to catch cold, they also avoid drinking cold water for a while, but we ignored these rules.
Returning down to the village was not easier due to the heat and tiredness.
We cut the road twice, although almost had to climb down for that. On the way, a local again invited us for tea, and this time we did not refuse. Again, we met wonderful people, had some tea and talked.
The owner of the house is the retired teacher of physical education and the father of two daughters: one of them works in the sanatorium and the other – in Moscow. His pension is 200 somonis which is only enough to pay for electricity and some food (or to go to the hot springs 20 times). The son-in-law working in Russia helps a bit too. Our host told that Pamir had had many rock climbers, scientists, geologists, but was abandoned after the Soviet times. He also gave the address of his cousin in Vrang, our next destination, to us. Then we got down to the village, picked up our stuff from the house of Salim in Tuggoz and went out to the road to hitchhike to that same Vrang.
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