Mountain Badakhshan


Mountain Badakhshan is an amazing mountain country. All over the world there are only two such places: Tibetan and Bolivian highlands.

The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region borders with Kyrgyzstan in the north, China in  the east, and Afghanistan in the south and west. Geographically, the Gorno-Badakhshan zone coincides with the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region and occupies the eastern part of Tajikistan (45% of the Republic's territory).

The territory of the region includes the most diverse landscapes: alpine meadows, alpine deserts, deep and narrow river gorges, compressed by rocky ridges, picturesque valleys lying at an altitude of 2000 - 3000 meters, beautiful alpine lakes and rapid rivers, the unusual architecture of mountain settlements. Here there are also the highest ridges, the most powerful glaciers, the highest  settlements of the country (up to 4000 m).The glaciers of this zone give rise to almost all the rivers of Central Asia.
Most of the region is occupied by the highlands of the Pamirs, the highest point of which is the peak of Communism (now the peak of Ismail Samani), thanks to which the highlands are often called the “Roof of the World”.

The administrative, industrial and cultural centre of the region is the city of Khorog, located in a deep canyon at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level, on the banks of the Gunt River, at the place of its confluence with the Panj.

History of Mountain Badakhshan
The first inhabitants of the Pamirs, and more precisely Mountain Badakhshan, were the primitive people of the Stone Age. At the end of the Bronze Age, the Pamirs began to be inhabited first by Proto-Indian tribes, and then by the ancient Iranians. At the same time, the languages and culture of the aliens began to assimilate with local traditions and dialects. Thus a group of East Iranian languages was formed.

In the 7th - 2nd centuries BC The Pamirs were inhabited by tribes, who  in historical sources are known as Sakas. The name of this tribe is also associated with the toponym "Shugnan", which literally can be translated as "Country of Sakas."

The territory of the Pamirs was part of the powerful Persian empire of the Achaemenids (6-4 centuries BC). In 3 - 2 centuries BC the population of the Pamirs was dependent on the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, formed after the victory of Alexander in the war with the Achaemenids; in the 1st - 3rd centuries AD- from the Kushan kingdom; in 4th-6th centuries - from the Ephthalites. After the defeat of the Ephthalites by the Turkic Khaganate, the Pamirs began to nominally submit to the Turkic rulers. In the second half of the 7th century, the Pamirs became dependent on the Chinese Tang Empire.

In the following centuries, the Pamirs   were conquered successively by Muslim Arabs,  the  region was the  part of the Tahirids (9th century), Samanids (11th - 12th centuries), Ghaznavids, Gurids, came under the rule of the Mongol conquerors (13th century), Timurid rulers (14th - 15th centuries) , became a part of the state of the Great Mughals (beginning of the 16th century), the state of Sheybanids (end   the 16th century) and Ashtarkhanids (1599).

In 1885, Russian troops occupied the Eastern Pamirs and founded the Murghab post. And then, according to the Russian-English agreement, the Pamirs were divided: the territory on the left bank of the Pyanj River went to Afghanistan, and the right-bank Badakhshan was transferred to Bukhara, a vassal from Russia.

Soviet power in the Pamirs was established  in late June 1920.
And in 1925, the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region was formed and annexed to the Tajik SSR after the formation of the republic in 1929. In the 1950s, local residents of Gorno-Badakhshan, part of which were ethnic Pamiri, were forcibly resettled in the  southeastern Tajikistan.
In 1992, a civil war broke out in Tajikistan. And then the local government of the region announced the autonomy of the region.

Administratively, the Gorno-Badakhshan region consists of eight districts and the capital of the region - the city of Khorog:

  1. Vanj district with a centre in the village of Vanj.
  2. Shughnon District with a centre in the city of Khorog.
  3. Ishkashim district with a centre in the village of Ishkashim.
  4. Murghab district with the centre in the village of Murghab.
  5. Darvaz district.
  6. Rushan district with the centre in the village of Rushan.
  7. Roshtqal'a district.
  8. The city of Khorog.

The population
From ancient times Gorno-Badakhshan was settled by the tribes of farmers who still call themselves "Pamiri". At one time, the branches of the Great Silk Road passed along the Panj, many conquerors visited here, therefore, the formation of the local nationality was influenced by Persian, Arab and Chinese cultures. Ethnically and culturally, Badakhshans are descendants of ancient Iranian tribes; it is widely believed that it was from them that the Aryan nationalities descended, which later settled in Europe, India, and Iran. Until now, the   Pamiri people communicate in ancient East Iranian languages - Wahan, Shugnan, Ishkashim. To this day, these unique people keep their centuries-old traditions, observe customs that are interesting for every traveller who have reached these treasured places.

In Gorno-Badakhshan, tourists have the opportunity to enjoy the picturesque mountain landscapes of numerous ranges (Vonchsky, Rushansky, Shokhdaryinsky, Zulumart, Zaalaysky), as well as the Afghan Hindu Kush and Chinese Kun-Lun with peaks Pathor peak (6093 m), Mayakovsky peak (6095 m) , K. Marx peak (6723 m), Soviet officers peak (6233 m), Lenin peak (7134 m), Muztagh Ata peak (7556 m) and many other beautiful peaks, various alpine lakes (Karakul, Bulunkul, Zoroshkul, Turumtykul,  Sarez, Yashilkul, Zorkul, Rongkul and hundreds of other smaller lakes), intermountain valleys (Alichur, Vakhanskaya, Shokhdaryinskaya, Vonchskaya) with many mountain villages where you can observe the real life of the Pamiri people and their traditions, the remnants of ancient fortresses (Kaahka, Yamchun, Ratm ), as well as numerous tombs and shrines.

This region attracts the greatest interest among foreign tourists, which is reliably confirmed by the annual influx of travellers from Europe, Asia and America, as well as the CIS countries.

Every year in Tajikistan, international climbing expeditions are held, during which alpinists from around the world ascend the highest mountain peaks of the Pamirs.
The unique relief of this Tajik region favours the development of hiking and trekking of various difficulty levels engaging in special sports such as climbing, mountaineering, skiing, mountaineering in combination with hunting and photo hunting, rafting, paragliding, caving and other types of extreme tourism.

Tourists are also attracted here by hunting farms, caves and, mainly, mineral springs of thermal and cold, carbonic and silicate waters.

So, Gorno-Badakhshan is waiting for you at its place and sincerely hopes that your trip to this Tajik region will remain in your memory for a long time.

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