Geography, history, legends of the highest mountains in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China
|Pamir - the origin of the name||History of the Pamirs||Legends of the Pamirs|
The greatest, mysterious, lost in the wilds of Asia - the mountains of the Pamir have always stirred minds. Sharp peaks seemed unattainable, deep rocky gorges - impregnable, winding roads heading to the clouds - unreliable. These uprising mountain peaks remember the Persian kings, the mysterious Bactria and the troops of Alexander the Great, Tamerlan and Bobur, Marco Polo and dozens of pioneers of glacier and mountain exploration. Roads laid over the precipices served as routes for caravans carrying Chinese silk, lapis lazuli and rubies from local mines. Today we know much more about the Pamirs, but do not stop being surprised at its beauty and diversity. Here the spirit of adventurism wakes up in every tourist.
Prior to the wide Himalayas exploration, it was the Pamir that was referred to as the “roof of the world”. The gigantic mountains of Asia tight like a ring around it: the Himalayas, the Karakorum, the Hindu Kush, the Gissar-Alay, the Tien-Shan and the Kunlun. The Pamir Mountains divide Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. And everywhere they appear to travelers different, but exciting.
Pamir-Alay - Asian Patagonia
The high mountain ranges of the Pamir-Alai mountain system adjoin the Pamir from the northwest, separating the Pamir from the Gissar mountains. The pearl of the Pamir-Alay are Fan Mountains - located at the junction of the Gissar and Zarafshan Ranges. It is a picturesque land of blue peaks, crystal lakes and turbulent rivers.
The Turkestan Range borders the Fergana Valley from the southwest. Here run the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. These little-studied rocks are often compared with South American Patagonia, noting that the local climate is much warmer and pleasant, and also with American Yosemite, but higher and wider.
From the east, in the Matcha mountain node the Turkestan Range joins the Alay Range, and in the west it rests on the Samarkand Plain. Gentle northern slopes are covered in juniper and light forests, and the short and steep southern bristle with rocks and scree.
The highest summits are Pik Skalisty (5,621 m) and Pyramidalny Peak (5,509 m). The ridge’s spine, especially eastern side, is covered with eternal snows. The largest glaciers are Tolstoy, Shurovsky and Zeravshan. The Dushanbe - Khujand highway passes through the Shahristan pass at an altitude of 3,378 meters. On the northern slope there is a mountain lake Ay-Kul.
The tireless streams of the Isfara, Ak-Suu, Kara-Suu rivers crash into the cliffs. If it were not for the sound of water, it would seem altogether unearthly. Plots of coniferous forests here are replaced by monochrome stony slopes, sharp cliffs and gray glaciers.
All the northern slopes of the central and eastern parts of the ridge are a kind of training ground for climbers. Here every adept of active recreation will find the route. You can try yourself on the well-known climbing and bouldering passes, thrive for the pioneering mount or try to make the new path to the top. Some of the local peaks are insidious even for professionals. There are almost steep two-kilometer rocks, the most famous of which is the northern wall of Aksu Peak. The most convenient route runs through the village Uzgarish. You can come here by car, and then entrust heavy cargo in the current transport - to horses or donkeys, and admire nature and acclimatize yourself, enjoying the stars at night and sleeping in a tent.
More and more tourists come here to see the Laylak (Aksu) and Karavshin gorges. Laylak Gorge (Aksu) is an ideal platform for practicing bouldering and free climbing on the most difficult rocky routes. The summits of the Laylak gorge are rocky barrier lining like a horseshoe around the glacier. From west to east, the fivethousanders Iskander (5,120 m), Admiralty (5,090 m), A. Blok (5,229 m), Aktyubek (5,125 m) and Aksu (5,355 m) soar into the sky. In the upper reaches of the neighboring Karasu gorge there are Peak of 5011 m, the northern spur goes from Vizbor Peak (4,655 m) to Dalny Peak (4,457 m). Further west, in the Uryam gorge, the picturesque Sabah Peak (5,283 m) abuts the clouds.
The nearby Karavshin gorge is also easily reachable. It has become increasingly popular among those who are waiting for extreme tourism, develop their own style of climbing, or are looking for the glory of the discoverer. Mountaineers go to the highest peak of the Turkestan range - Pyramidalny (Pyramidal) Peak (5,509 m), as well as smaller giants - 1000 let Kresheniya Rusi (1000 years of the baptism of Russia) (4,810), Asan (4,230 m), Usan (4,378 m.).
Locals tell a beautiful legend about the rocks Asan and Usan (aka Asen and Usen). Supposedly, there once lived an old man with two twin sons. He loved them very much, but he was strict and attentive to them as he raised warriors. Heroes matured to the joy of their father. However, the war took their lives. Upon learning of their death, the old man was not in himself from grief. Falling to the ground, he asked Allah to exchange his remaining years for his sons. Prayer has been heard. Giant wide-shouldered peaks rose from the ground. Since then, two rocks opposite each other in the headwaters of the Karavshin River are called same as those twins - Asan and Ousan; from afar, gray and snow-covered Pyramidalny Peak, looks caringly upon them.
Alay - the kingdom of snowy peaks and deep valleys
On the border of Alay, Trans-Alay and Gissar Ranges and Pamirs there is an amazing Alay valley. This is a belt of high grasses and rich pastures, which seems to be clamped in the very heart of an impregnable mountainous country. Alay Valley is a realm of contrasts: behind flat meadows there are stone mountains walls, severe glaciers end with pearls of crystal lakes. It gives a respite to travelers before the road to the whitened peaks of the Trans-Alay and Alay Ranges, the Central Pamir. There is a road from Kyrgyz Osh to Tajik Khorog, and through the Irkeshtam Pass one can reach Eastern Pamir or Kashgar Mountains in China.
The northern and southern spurs of the Alay Range form a wide network of small valleys and narrow gorges. Thanks to this, the team of climbers and groups of enthusiasts of active tourism can easily choose the most suitable mountain route, based on the training and experience. In the east, the valleys are wide, in the western and southern parts of the district they are narrow. Foothills are hot and dry. Valleys are covered with various greens. Cherry and apricot grow in the lower reaches, tugai, birch groves and juniper overgrowth are found higher. Trees grow to impressive size under the protection of mountain peaks.
High Alay is divided by the rivers of the Fergana and Alay valleys. It is located in the south-west of Kyrgyzstan and in the north-east of central Tajikistan. This is a large part of the Gissar-Alay mountain system east of the Matcha ridge. Its main ridge is the Alay Range, which goes from the peak of Igla, the intersection of the Zaravshan and Turkestan ranges.
The main height of the Alay Range is Peak Tandykul (5,539 m), the Snejny Shater Peak (Snow Tent Peak). The average height of the ridges is 4500 m, but there are also a lot of fivethousanders, including Aylama (5,428). The summits here are sharp, rocky, rockfalls and mudflows happen quite often.
In the area of the Abramov glacier, the gills are expanding, giving way to large glaciers. The elevation changes here are somewhat less, and the absolute height of the passes is much greater. The main ridge makes a sharp bend to the north here and then gives rise to powerful spurs - the Collectorsky Range and the Kuruksai Range (Gaumysh, Aylama). The Collectorsky Range together with the main Alay Range on this site forms a separate area of Dugoba.
Tourists and sportsmen just begin discovering the beauty of High Alay. There are very few proven routes to the local peaks. Most of the paths are time consuming and technically challenging. However, they are worth it. Anonymous fivethousanders are waiting for their pioneers. There are beautiful peaks for classic mountaineering. Bold spirits will appreciate the spectacular panorama of the snow peaks of the central Pamir.
Mineral springs are hidden among the peaks of the Alay ridge. The mineral waters of Dzhilysu are popular with the locals. Archabashi springs and Tandykul resort in the valleys of the same name are also famous for their healing properties.
Pamir - on the roof of the world, at the foot of the Sun
In the Pamir, they usually distinguish several sites based on the landscape specifics. Most often, speaking of the Pamir, they mean the Gorno-Badakhshan (Kuhiston Badakhshan) region of Tajikistan - this is where the main part of this mountain system is located, and Khorog is considered the tourist center of the Pamir. In Kyrgyzstan, the northern Trans-Alay ridge is located. The Pamir Mountains in China are usually called Eastern Pamir, Chinese Pamir or the Kashgar Mountains and often referred as part of Kunlun. In Afghanistan, the spurs of the southern Pamir are located in the province of Badakhshan. The Wakhan corridor - a narrow flat valley bounded by high ridges - runs in valleys of the Wakhan and Panj rivers. The border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan goes along it.
One distinguishes Pamir regions from arrival features as well. Thus, the Northern Pamir, including the Trans-Alay, Zulumart and Saukdara ranges, is accessible from the north from the Alay valley, mainly from the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. The North-Western Pamir is easily reached from Djirgital (Tajikistan). The Central Pamir is approached from Tajikistan as well, but from Vanch or Savnob. Today, the cities of Osh and Dushanbe are connected by the Pamir Highway, world’s second highest road, the first sections of which were laid at the end of the 19th century. This is literally the “road of life”, going through high mountain passes that are more than four kilometers high, while its separate segments go along deep mountain gorges.
The Pamir Mountains have long been considered the world’s highest. However, the new measurement methods threw them into the middle of the first forty. The most impressive peaks located in the Chinese Pamir. These are Kongur (Kungur Tagh) (7,649 m), Kongur Jiubie (Kungur Tjube Tagh) (7,530 m) and Muztagh Ata (Muztagata) (7,546 m). In the Tajik Pamirs there are highest peaks of Ismoil Somoni Peak, (formerly Communism Peak (7,495 m)) and Peak Korzhenevskaya (7,105 m). Lenin Peak (new name Abu Ali Ibn Sino Peak) (7,134 m) rises at the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
The northern outpost of the Pamir - Trans-Alay Range stretches 200 kilometers along the Kyrgyz territory from west to east from the Muksu and Kyzylsu rivers’ confluence to Irkeshtam Peak on the Chinese border, and cuts 50 km more into the Middle Kingdom. The Trans-Alay Range meets here with the northern part of the Pamir-Alay mountains (Turkestan and Alay ranges), separating Pamir and Tien Shan.
The pleasant climate - stable weather for the mountain regions and a lot of sun - makes the Pamir mountains of Kyrgyzstan comfortable both for summer holidays and for visiting until autumn. It also offers routes for every taste - from active family holidays with elements of ethnographic and ecological tourism in camping and yurts to serious sports trips for experienced climbers.
And although the average height of the Trans-Alay range is slightly more than 5 km, it is here that one of the seven thousand meters of the Pamir rises a snow hat of Lenin Peak (7,134 meters) and a lot of peaks over six kilometers abutting clouds. Powerful glaciers descend from the gray-haired giant - there are more than 500 of them in this part of the Pamir. The most impressive ones are Korzhenevsky, Dzerzhinsky, Kuzgun, East Kyzylsu, Oktyabrsky, Nura, Malaya and Bolshaya Saukdara.
Spurs are separated by many passes - Trans-Alay, Surkhango, Minjar, Constitution, Abris, Dzerzhinsky, Spartak, Mira (Peace), Beletsky, 30 let Pobedy (30th Anniversary of Victory) . It is easy to reach some even for a tourist in good physical shape without special climbing training - so-called light trekking. Others - heavy trekking - require a professional approach. Brave adventurers are rewarded with dizzying views of the endless mountainous Pamir.
The Kyzylart and Ters-Agar passes divide the Trans- Alay range into the eastern, central and western parts.
Eastern Trans-Alay, stretching from Kyzylart to China is a rare conservation area. Due to the state border’s proximity, active research of these places began only in the 90s. The sixthousanders peaks of Kurumdy (6,613 m) and Zarya Vostoka (Dawn of the East) (6,349 m), obeyed a few climbers - newcomers are hindered by steep slopes and strong winds. First to enter Zarya Vostoka summit was a team of Russian mountaineers headed by Alexander Novik, and Kurumdy “surrendered” a year later to Kyrgyz athletes led by Alexander Gubaev. In these harsh mountains there are still many unconquered mountains, marked only by numbers, unexplored passes and nameless glaciers waiting for their heroes. However, they can only be those who take both charms and dangers seriously - the winds are harsh on these icy passes, and monotonous wide ridges and dome-shaped peaks can drive you off the road. One should have stock up on equipment, including satellite communications. Decent price for the title of pioneer and discoverer of the Pamir peaks.
Central Trans-Alay is located between the passes of Ters-Agar and Kyzylart. Here the ridge rises by an almost unbroken line of peaks covered with a white blanket of ice and snow. Here you can challenge relatively low routes, rising, for example, to Petrovsky Peak (4,700 m), Yuhin Peak (5,130m),or aim at sixthousanders: Razdelnaya Peak (6,148m), Marshal Zhukov Peak (6,842m), October (6,780) m), Dzerzhinsky (6,717 m), Edinstvo (Unity) (6,640 m), Kyzylagyn (6,683 m) and most prominent Lenin Peak (7,134 m) - the highest in Kyrgyzstan. The giant, drowning in the clouds, was first documented in 1871 by the Russian geographer and traveler Alexei Fedchenko. Until 1928, it bore the name of Kaufman Peak in honor of the Governor-General of Turkestan. With the advent of the Soviet government began to be called Lenin Peak. In 2006, the Government of Tajikistan unilaterally got peak named after Abu Ali Ibn Sino (Avicenna). Contrary to the neighbors in 2017 Kyrgyzstan suggested calling the summit Manas Peak. However, among tourists and climbers, the old name, Lenin Peak, is more known. Today, 16 routes lead to the summit: nine along the southern and seven along the northern slope. The most accessible path leads from the north through the Razdelnaya Peak. It does not require special skills and tremendous mountaineering experience, which is why Lenin Peak is considered to be the most affordable seventhousender.
In general, in the Central Trans-Alay there are a lot of hiking routes for hardy and motivated lovers of sports mountain tourism. South from the snow-white peaks, the ridge relief gets smoother. Here one can admire the mountains rising to the skies and enjoy the local nature without special equipment and skills. However, as well as for any rest in the mountains you will need a tent.
In the Western Trans-Alay, westward from the Ters-Agar pass, the kingdom of pointed peaks and deep valleys awaits us again. The green lower reaches contrasts with the mountain peaks covered with eternal snows. Here, in addition to the mountain juniper, there are a lot of deciduous shrubs and even birch. You can conquer the snow-covered passes, or relax in the lowlands, enjoying an interesting holiday and admiring the "gray-haired" giants of green groves. The highest point of Western Trans-Alay is the picturesque and majestic Sat Peak (5,900 m). From numerous passes one can enjoy the panorama of the North-Western Pamir - Ismoil Somoni Peak (Communism Peak) (7,495 m) and Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105 m).
Northern and Central Pamir
The Western Pamir name is often referred to the extremities of the Darvaz, Vanj, Yazgulem, Rushan ranges. Northwestern Pamir lies in the base of the Darvaz Range, Peter I Range and the northern part of the Academy of Sciences Range. World-known giants rush into the clouds here - Ismoil Somoni (formerly Communism) Peak (7,495m), Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105m), Russia Peak (6,875m), Izvestia Peak (6,841m), Moscow Peak (6,785m), Garmo Peak (6,602m ).
Those thirsty for bright impressions will be met with variety of alpine meadows bright panoramas contrasted with lifeless stony gorges and severe monochrome glaciers. The elevation changes here exceed four kilometers. For example, the Vanj Valley is located at an altitude of 1,882 m, and the nearby Arnavad Peak reaches 5,992 m. The Vudor (6,132 m) - highest summit of the Yazgulem Range - rises above the valleys of Yazgulem and Bartang by 3,900 meters. By the way, according to legend, the Alexander the Great’s army was quartered in the Yazgulem valley during the eastern march (the last city built by the Greeks on the way to the east - Eskhata in Tajikistan has been sought for many years). After the king's marriage to the Bactrian princess Roksalan, it became customary among his soldiers to marry local girls. One often sees the appearance of yazgulem people as evidence that they are descendants of the comrades of Alexander the Great. Unlike other ethnic groups of the Pamirs and nearby states yazgulems are tall, they have fair skin and hair, blue or green eyes. Scientists suggest that an amazing mutation is the result of inbreeding - the fixation of rare genes in populations isolated from the outside world. It is not so important which version you like more; it only adds exotics to the Pamir.
Here you can literally get lost in time. While going to the alluring peaks through the alpine meadows, it is easy to find a shepherd herding a flock of sheep, just as centuries ago his ancestors did. In deep gorges rockfalls often occur, and rapid mountain rivers often cut canyons, where snow and ice do not melt over summer. Poplar and birch grow in the lower reaches and sea buckthorn shows orange berries near the rivers. You can even taste the juicy local apricots.
And yet, most tourists do not come here for fresh fruit and historical riddles. Experienced athletes and skilled lovers of mountain tourism are attracted by pointed stone giants sinking in the clouds.
The Ismoil Somoni Peak (Stalin Peak, Communism Peak)
The Ismoil Somoni Peak (previously called Stalin Peak and Communism Peak) (7,495 m) is the most breathtaking peak of the northwestern Pamir. It is considered the highest point of the former Soviet Union, and today - Tajikistan. The first to climb the peak in 1928 were members of the Soviet-German scientific expedition. Until 1962, it was called the Stalin Peak, and then renamed as Communism Peak. After Tajikistan gained independence, in 1999 it was named Ismoil Somoni Peak, in honor of the founder of the first state of the Tajiks. Locals call the summit - “Uz-tergi”, literally “turn my head”. The peak covered with eternal snow is located at the intersection of the Academy of Sciences Range and Peter I Range. Today it is the 50th highest mountain in the world.
To the west and north-west of the summit is the Pamir firn plateau, one of the planet’s longest. The Fortambek, Moskvin, Walter glaciers descend to the north and northwest. To the south and southwest, the summit ends in steep walls. Athletes have tested more than 30 routes to the top. The most difficult ones are from the Belyaev glacier. Here goes a steep rocky wall about two kilometers long, with a section of 600-800 meters (called a “belly”) with an almost perpendicular inclination. The base camp is located at an altitude of 4,200 m, at the confluence of the Walter and Moskvin glaciers (eastern tributaries of the Fortambek glacier), and is the closest point to the Ismoil Somoni Peak and Korzhenevskaya Peak, where most of the climbers head to the summits.
The neighboring seventhousander Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105 m) is located 13 kilometers in the northern part of the Academy of Sciences Range. This amazingly beautiful summit is called “Kukh-i-Santolok”, which means “Morning snow” in Tajik. The peak bears the name of Evgenia Korzhenevskaya - the wife of his discoverer, the Russian geographer N. Korzhenevsky. It was conquered last of the Soviet Pamir’s seven thousand meters - only in 1953. Athletes laid about 10 routes to the top. The safest and least complex is along the Southern ridge from the Korzhenevskaya glacier.
Glaciers and highland lakes of the Pamirs
In addition to the endless peaks, there are still many interesting things in the Pamirs. Take the grandiose glaciers or highland lakes. Here lies the Eurasia’s longest - the Fedchenko Glacier (77 km), just to the east from the Revolution Peak (6,940 m) slopes the Grumm Grzhimailo glacier (37 km) descends.
In the eastern Pamir, tourists are amazed with large crystal smooth lakes. On Central, North-West, West and South-West Pamir there are mostly small lakes in the pockets of moraines. Turquoise mirrors of different origin are always beautiful. Many came from melting glaciers. Salt and drainless lakes occupy tectonic depressions. Sarez Lake and Yashilkul Lake formed due to the glaciers descent and mudflows. By the way, Sarez Lake is the deepest in the Pamirs. The reservoir 505 meters deep is located at an altitude of 3,263 meters. It was formed in 1911, when a landslide came down because of a 9-point earthquake and blocked the Murgab River, creating a rocky dam with a height of more than half a kilometer. Overnight water flooded the village of Sarez, which gave the name to the lake. The Karakul mountain lake is the largest in the Pamirs - 402 square kilometers. A number of scientists, having studied the geological structure of its bottom and satellite images, put forward a hypothesis that it filled the impact crater from a meteorite that fell 230-190 million years ago.
Chinese Pamir or Eastern Pamirs
The Chinese Pamir or Kashgar mountains are an exotic and unexplored place. Many peaks remain nameless here, and from the deserts nearby they seem like mirages. One of the highest ranges of the Pamirs - Kongur Shan- attracts lovers of high-altitude ascents. Karakoram Highway from Pakistan to China comes close enough from the north and west, so it is easy to get here from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR). Ten of the range’s summits exceed 7,000 meters in altitude, among them the giants Kongur Tagh or Kongkoerh (7,719 m), Kongur Jiubie (Kungur Tjube Tagh) (7,595m) and Muztagh Ata (7,546m). The weather here is less stable than in other regions of the Pamir, often changing due to monsoons from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As a result, there is not much of open ice, peaks and passes are covered with deep snow and many avalanches come down. Especially strong winds fly on the crest of the Kongur Shan range. Therefore, climbers need to prepare, selecting equipment carefully.
Kongur Tagh and Muztagh Ata Peak
Kongur Tagh or Kongkoerh (from the Uigur and Kyrgyz “brown mountains”, from the Chinese - “Kyrgyz mountains”) is the highest peak of the Pamir (7,719 m). Its northern wall rises four kilometers above the foot, and the valley of the Gez Darya River remains in a five-kilometer low. The first to climb Kongur Tagh were the British expedition, led by Chris Bonington. It happened in the early 1980s. The most impressive glaciers of the Kashgar mountains, Karaylyak and Chimgen, descend from the slopes of the Kongur Tagh.
Muztagh Ata Peak (Muztag-ata) "father of the icy mountains" rises south of Kongur Tagh with virtually no foothills. Due to the gentle western slope and dry weather this 7,546 m high giant is considered one of the world’s most affordable seventhousanders. It is best ascended by two routes through western slope: the northern or southern. The second is the safest and most massive. It is not very difficult technically, but it can be unexpected weather and pressure changes, deep snow and strong wind. Conquerors need excellent physical training, good equipment and competent acclimatization. Before you start climbing, you should enjoy the dizzying beauty of the summit view in the Karakul Lake.
Pamir - the origin of the name
The history of the "Pamir" name causes heated debates. There are prose and romantic versions. None of them can be proved, but each adds nuances to how this mountainous country was perceived over the centuries.
In the languages of the ancient local peoples, the root of the word "Pamir" meant a high-mountainous upland plain or pasture on the whole. It was said that in local high-mountain pastures and alpine meadows "even the thinnest cattle will fatten in 10 days".
Historians believe that in ancient times this region was inhabited by the ancient Aryan people, whose blood now runs in many Indo-European nations. They believed that the Pamirs - the northern boundary of the world, and called it Hara or Hara Brzati (translated as “Mount High”). Later, when the Aryan tribes migrated further south and west, the name “Khara Brzati” was transformed into “Alburs” and was transferred to the ridge in the north of Iran.
Other researchers are looking for the origins of the name "Pamir" in the Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna, spread here already in the first millennium BC. For fire worshipers, the god of the sun and light Mihr (Mithra) was of great importance. In the east of the spacious Panj River valley there are peaks of the Pamir, Hindu Kush and Karakorum. For locals, the sun always rose over them. Hence the name "Poi Mihra", - "the foot of the sun", "the foot of the light." Over time, the word transformed into "Pamir." By the way, one of the sources of the Panj, originating from Zorkul Lake directly from the eastern mountains, was also named Pamir. Perhaps the first name was the river, then it spread to the whole area.
In the texts of the Zoroastrian sacred book "Avesta" they also found confirmation that "Ayran-Vadzh" - "Aryan expanse", the ancestral home of ancient Aryan tribes, created by the supreme god Ahura Mazda, was on the Pamir in the upper reaches of the Amudarya. However, Khorezm and the Caucasus also remain equivalent versions.
Others interpreted the word “Pamir” as an abbreviation of two words “Upa Meru”, that is, “country over Meru”, the divine mountain of ancient Indians referred to in “Mahabharata” (Mahabharata is the greatest epos of the peoples of India, translated from Sanskrit means “The great tale of descendants of Bharata ", named after the King of Bharata).
The famous German geographer Karl Ritter wrote that "Some chapters of the Bible understood in a certain way make the Pamir not only the birthplace of the Aryan, but of all mankind".
Others have suggested that the word “Pamir” is a distortion of the word “fan-world” or “last name,” that is, the lake country or Lake Fan. The word "world" was interpreted as the Sanskrit term "sea", also found, for example, in the toponyms "Kashmir", "Ajmir". This has a basis, since the lakes of the Pamirs, such as, for example, Zorkul, in ancient times probably had a much larger size.
In the Middle Ages, speaking the Pamirs, most likely meant Alay Valley. This can be judged by the data of the geographer Ibn Ruste, who describes that the Vakhshab River, (the modern name is Surkhab), flowed out of the land of the Harlukh Turks and followed through the areas of the Pamir, Rasht, Koumed (historical Darband, modern Nourabad), and then passed between two mountains on the border of Vashgird (present-day Faizabad) and Tamliyat (a town in the north of the Khatlon region).
In the Arab chronicles of the time, the Pamirs appear as “Bamir” or “Famir”, since there is no “p” sound in Arabic. The famous Baghdad historian and geographer Ahmad al-Ya’qubi wrote that in the 9th c. there was a city "Bamir". In the Persian dictionaries of that time, the town of Famir is mentioned, located not far from the desert, where musk deer is found - a small deer that distinguishes the most valuable product of that time - musk. Judging by the descriptions, modern historians place this city also in the Alay Valley, at the exit to the highlands.
There is also a version that the “Pamir” was formed from the combination of “poi marg” - “the foot of death”. The mountains were called so because many trade caravans disappeared, unable to transit through narrow steep passes.
The Pamir is mentioned in stories about travels of Marco Polo XIII century Venetian merchant, calling him "Pamer". It is also found on Russian maps of the 19th century as “Pamir-Kalyana” and “Pamir-Khurda”. In the Russian Empire until the end of the 19th century, the “Pamir” served as the designation for all Central Asia highland valleys.
The history of the Pamirs and its peoples
The Pamir Mountains have long been a source of lapis lazuli and ruby for the entire ancient world. Local gems are found even in the Egyptian pharaohs’ burials. Nevertheless, the life of the ancient Pamiris was far from world politics until the 2nd century B.C. It was then that caravans from major cities of Central Asia and Mediterranean began to go through the valley of the Panj from China and India. Here run the southern section of the Great Silk Road.
The first written information about the Pamirs appears in ancient Chinese chronicles. A well-known traveler of those years, 27-year-old Xuan Zang, originally from the province of Gunan, went to India for religious purposes in 629, and returned only 16 years later.
The path of Xuan Zang to his homeland ran through the Pamirs as well. He calls it “Pa-mi-lo” and describes it like this: “It is about 1000 li from the east to the west, and 100 li from the south to the north. It is located between two snowy ridges, which is why a terrible blizzard reigns here, and gusty winds blows. Snow comes in spring and summer. The wind does not stop day or night. The soil is saturated with salt and covered with small stones and sand. Neither grain bread nor fruits can grow here. Trees and other plants are rare. Everywhere is a wild desert without a trace of human dwellings. In the middle of the Pa-mi-lo valley lies a large lake of dragons, it is 300 li from east to west, and 50 li from south to north. And it lies at a great height ... The waters in it are clear and transparent as a mirror; depth is immeasurable. The water color is dark blue; the water tastes pleasant and fresh. In the depths of these waters are found sharks, dragons, crocodiles and turtles; ducks, wild geese swim on their surface ... ”. Geographers suggest that the chronicles are either Zorkul Lake or Karakul.
Numerous attempts to join the Pamirs to world empires (Persians - Achaemenids, Greeks and their heirs Seleucids, and later Sassanids, Turks, Chinese, Arabs, Mongols, Timurids, etc.) either failed or achieved temporary success.
In fact, right up to the Big Game that unfolded between the Russian and British empires in the 19th century, the small Pamir valleys were ruled by local feudal lords.
In 1895, the rivalry of political heavyweights of the time was over. The border between the emirate of Bukhara and Afghanistan was carried out along Panj through Wakhan Corridor. The frontier left the small peoples of the Asian highlanders citizens of different states. Today, the Pamirians (this term unites dozens of small nations) are trying to preserve original languages, culture and religion. The history of this ethnos has more than two thousand years. Some scientists believe that the Pamirians are descendants of the ancient Aryan who remained in the mountains during the Indo-European migration. Their closest relatives are the legendary Scythians. The Pamirs continue to speak the heterogeneous Pamir languages of the Eastern Iranian group of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Most profess Ismaili - the Shiite direction of Islam, absorbed some positions of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Legends of the Pamirs
Covered with myths and secrets, the highland Pamir country seems to hold the answers to many universe questions.
A Sufi from the Pamirs named Khoja Tufa was somehow asked why he allowed people to extol him. To which he said: “We cannot be responsible either for those who praise us or for those who attack us. For in fact, they care only for their own opinions. It is useless to fight it. More interesting are those who do not flatter us, and do not blaspheme. For they are equal to us. Ironically, we bypass such people by paying attention to those who praise us or fight with us. Choosing a catchy, while ignoring the really important thing is a trite, but useless. I act according to the precepts of the wise Zilzilavi: “When fools extol me, I encourage them. When they get to the limit in this, they may realize that excessiveness is stupid. At the same time, if they exaggerate me too much, those who are sick of flattery will shun me: they will think that I encourage praise from a desire for praise. But if they judge so superficially, and I must avoid them, for I can do nothing to help them. ” The wisest way to get rid of anything is to make sure that it chooses to avoid you.
Dialogue about the eternal
There is a legend that in the old cemeteries-mazars in the Pamir sometimes there are three wandering dervish monks, equal in age to the whitened mountains. They sit at the entrance and talk about what they saw and experienced during the pilgrimage to the great shrines. Blessed is he who meets them on the way.
At the blessed gate
Darvaz - "Pamir Gate" is the crossroads of many ancient roads. Here and through the pass "Eagle Collar" - Gardani Kaftar also runs a route lost in time. But not all pilgrims who are on their way to Mazar Khazrati-Alloydin know that these mountains hold the memory of the once-overshadowed Ishoni Domullo Curbona, one of the holy devotees of the Pamir.
Night on the shores of Lake Pariyone - the abode of fairies
Lake Pariyone is a reservoir with azure water hidden among the peaks of Kara-Tag. If you wandered here, do not be surprised when you hear unearthly girlish voices out of nowhere. According to legend, a brave man, who dared to remain alone on the shore and spend the night without making a sound, will receive a kiss as a reward from the fairies that rose to him from the black depth.
Respect the island in the middle of the lake. For they saw and heard the ruler of the local mountains and forests wanders here among the high grasses, a half-beast, half-man Guli. Brave hearted can risk staying on the island for the night, to see the incredible - the balls will rise from the surface of Pariyone, light up the night and carry away unknown secrets high to the mountain peaks.
They say that in the valley of Alichur there once was a beautiful Indian city, where King Barbar sat on his throne. There was no day when the caravan loaded with goods did not cross its gates. The inhabitants of the Golden City rejoiced in wealth, valued it and therefore were blessed for eternal life. However, over time, they forgot to thank the Creator. The giant Hudam was sent to them by the God’s will as a punishment. He destroyed all the townspeople, and the beautiful buildings and all the riches were burned with heavenly fire. The legends about him remained only in the sacred chants of the Pamiris - “mado”. According to one version, the Prophet's Muhammad son-in-law - Ali, punished the impudent subjects of the King Barbar.
A huge rock hangs over the village of Roshtkala, nicknamed the "Pir Arrows" - Shoy-Tyrandoz. This mountaineer is one of the celestial guards of the Pamirs, called gaby. Shoy-Tyrandoz puts the rulers of this world. Once in 170 years, he shoots a ruler, and if his arrow hits a coward, a fool, or a deceiver, his spirit falls in “duzah” - hell, and if in a noble husband, rises in “besht” - paradise.
How many beliefs, cultures and nations crossed in the heart of the Earth! The Pamirs saw the phalanxes of Iskander-Zulkarnayn (Alexander the Great, here referred to as “Bicornious”), Genghis Khan's tumen, Babur's cavalry and brave warriors of Tamerlan. These mountains gave birth to Zarathustra and fire-worshipers, the mysterious Ismailis. There are also many shrines of Islam - the mazars of the great Haji.
Aksakals say that the first inhabitants of these mountains were the mighty giants Rephaim. Therefore, having strayed from the road, sometimes you come to a mysterious temple, hewn from stones by prehistoric giants. Here the spirit fades, and you try to get away as quickly as you can. But suddenly gold or rubies will flash on the stones. Do not turn around - for these jewels do not belong to our world.
Pamir is an amazing world full of mysteries. An ideal destination for sophisticated lovers of Asia, multi-day trekking and ethno-tourism. It is covered with numerous legends and myths that will remain with this place and in which there will never be a shortage.
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