Silk Road 24: Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Oct 2019

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Silk Road Tajikistan Sept-Oct 2019
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Dushanbe, Oct 2019

Oct 8, 2019

After a wonderful few days in Khorog, we made our way to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. There were no flights from Khorog to Dushanbe, and the National Airline (Tajik Air) had ceased to operate a few years earier. The airport in Khorog was being used only for military flights, NGO helicopter flights, and emergencies. We asked Sadriya Marodmamadova, the GM of Mountain Foods to help us with transportation, and she found someone who would drive us to Dushanbe. Unfortunately, no English. So Sadriya kindly translated for us over the phone as needed.

Since this was a 12hr bumpy ride, we decided to leave Khorog in the afternoon, and spend the night halfway, at Kalai Kumb, where there was supposed to be a good hotel. The road continued to follow the Panj river, with Afghanistan on the opposite side. Some images along the way. 1st stop was at Nasir Khusraw spring at the village of Porshinev, a short detour off the main road.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Nasir Khusraw springs with his statue
Nasir Khusraw springs with his statue
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Plaque for the spring; not sure how true this is; very similar to Moses’s story. Moses was a prophet
Plaque for the spring; not sure how true this is; very similar to Moses’s story. Moses was a prophet
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Traffic Jams along M41 Pamir Highway
Traffic Jams along M41 Pamir Highway
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Riders on the Afghan side, checking us out. The drop to the Panj river was very steep here.
Riders on the Afghan side, checking us out. The drop to the Panj river was very steep here.

We arrived in Kalai Kumb as it got dark, and checked into the Karon Palace hotel in the town center. The town was quite nice, clean and well-kept with good paved roads. The Karon Palace was a very nice 4 star multi-story hotel with excellent 5 star amenities and service. And very reasonable at $60 per night including dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, dinner service was over. So we drove over to the Sharq-Darvoz restaurant on the River Panj for dinner. The driver had manti, and we had laghman & shurpa. With tea for all. Cost was $5 for dinner for 3 of us.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Dinner with our driver at Sharq-Davroz along the Panj river, with Afghanistan town lights visible in the background across the river
Dinner with our driver at Sharq-Davroz along the Panj river, with Afghanistan town lights visible in the background across the river

Went back to Karon Palace for a great night’s rest. Next morning, after breakfast, we started driving again; we had now left the GBAO region, and the roads improved a lot with paving and lane markings; though there were still multiple rough patches, and avalanches. We now moved away from the Panj river, towards the interior of Tajikistan, and gradually, the landscape changed. Some images below on the way to Dushanbe.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Roads started improving a lot with paving and lane markings; but still had rough patches, landslides and was still dangerous.
Roads started improving a lot with paving and lane markings; but still had rough patches, landslides and was still dangerous.
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Interesting restored castle at Hulbuk town
Interesting restored castle at Hulbuk town
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Landscape change into rolling hills
Landscape change into rolling hills
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Monument at a hilltop in the middle of nowhere
Monument at a hilltop in the middle of nowhere
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Lots of farming; making hay while the sun shines
Lots of farming; making hay while the sun shines
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Lots of cotton farming; a leftover from the Soviet days
Lots of cotton farming; a leftover from the Soviet days

We finally arrived in Dushanbe in the early afternoon; and checked into the Serena hotel; which was a very nice 5 star hotel in the center of Dushanbe. I had to pay the driver, but since the ATM machine just outside the hotel had run out of Banknotes, I ended up borrowing money from the front desk of the Serena hotel; very nice of them to do so.

After settling in, we decided to get some late lunch. So we called a taxi, and asked the driver to take us to the Taj Indian restaurant. The driver a young man named Baha, who spoke some English. He took us to where the Taj was supposed to be, but the whole area was under construction and closed off. So we asked him to take us to a good local Tajik restaurant. So he drove us to the Samarkand restaurant, and we had the samsa, salad, lamb chops and kebabs. With tea, this came to $7 for the 2 of us. Very reasonable.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Samsa is the traditional Tajik equivalent of the Indian samosa, except it is made with fatty meat, and is baked in a tandoor
Samsa is the traditional Tajik equivalent of the Indian samosa, except it is made with fatty meat, and is baked in a tandoor
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Bread rolls, baked in a tandoor, were everywhere. These ladies had a good laugh at me taking their picture
Bread rolls, baked in a tandoor, were everywhere. These ladies had a good laugh at me taking their picture
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Late lunch at Samarkand restaurant
Late lunch at Samarkand restaurant
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Cleanliness was evident everywhere in Dushanbe, including at the Samarkand restaurant
Cleanliness was evident everywhere in Dushanbe, including at the Samarkand restaurant

Baha came back to pick us up. Interesting fellow; he was 25yrs old, married with 2 kids, and had worked 3yrs prior in Dubai. He was living with, and taking care of his extended family household, with his father working in Russia. His household consisted of his mother, his wife & 2 kids, 2 uncles and their wives. We decided to hire Baha to drive us around Dushanbe, for the 3 nights we were staying here.

We went back to the hotel to rest, and Dilshad got her hair done at a nearby spa. That evening, Baha came and picked us up and took us to the Ismaili Center and Jamatkhana, Dushanbe, where we had arranged to meet Zanjir, get a tour and attend evening prayers. Zanjir was the Director here, and asked Shonaz to show us around and give us a tour of the center. Pictures were allowed inside, expect in the prayer hall. Some images below of the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Inside the imposing entryway; the bricks & design of insets were patterned after the Ismoil Somoni mausoleum in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Inside the imposing entryway; the bricks & design of insets were patterned after the Ismoil Somoni mausoleum in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Interesting ceiling design
Interesting ceiling design
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Shonaz, our tour guide, showing us around and explaining the Center’s design
Shonaz, our tour guide, showing us around and explaining the Center’s design
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Impressive Courtyard of the Dushanbe Jamatkhana
Impressive Courtyard of the Dushanbe Jamatkhana

View around the Courtyard, showing the scale of the building

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Entrance of the imposing Center at night, with reflective water gardens
Entrance of the imposing Center at night, with reflective water gardens
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Signage
Signage

Interesting history of this building per Zanjir and Shonaz; it took multiple years to build as permits etc. were hard to get from the Govt; it was eventually built and opened for Admin and offices; but the prayer hall remained closed for another 2 years before it could be used.

Below are other images of Dushabe we visited over the next few days; that Baha took us around to

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Elegant Qatari funded mosque that was under construction. We bribed the guard 10 somoni (about $1) to let us check it out from the outside. It was designed to have a capacity for 15,000 worshippers
Elegant Qatari funded mosque that was under construction. We bribed the guard 10 somoni (about $1) to let us check it out from the outside. It was designed to have a capacity for 15,000 worshippers
Dushanbe, Tajikistan One of multiple entrances to this new mosque, with gleaming marble everywhere
One of multiple entrances to this new mosque, with gleaming marble everywhere

We then checked out some night parks; there were many buildings well lit up at night

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Entrance of one city park
Entrance of one city park
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Fountains inside a park
Fountains inside a park
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Interesting walkway in a Park
Interesting walkway in a Park
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Locals enjoying table tennis and indoor soccer inside one of the parks, at night, with families. Very safe.
Locals enjoying table tennis and indoor soccer inside one of the parks, at night, with families. Very safe.

Locals enjoying the park at night

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Another well-lit and unusual pathway in another park
Another well-lit and unusual pathway in another park
Dushanbe, Tajikistan The Presidential palace at night, that we were not supposed to photograph. Many buildings in the city were similarly nicely lit up at night
The Presidential palace at night, that we were not supposed to photograph. Many buildings in the city were similarly nicely lit up at night

After the long drive from Kalai Kumb and the touring around Dushanbe, we decided to call it a night and continue checking out Dushanbe next few days.

More Dushanbe next

Our journey so far

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Krygyz travel
Krygyz travel
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Tajikistan map till Dushanbe
Tajikistan map till Dushanbe
This entry was posted in Asia, Silk Road Tajikistan Sept-Oct 2019, Tajikistan

26 thoughts on “Silk Road 24: Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Oct 2019

  • Nailla Devraj October 26, 2020 at 6:56 pm Reply

    Great blog with beautiful pictures

    • Ali Karim October 27, 2020 at 12:19 am Reply

      🙂 thanks

  • Shamshudin Visram October 27, 2020 at 12:30 am Reply

    Ali

    That is wonderful

    • Ali Karim October 27, 2020 at 12:31 am Reply

      Thank you Shamshudin

  • Abdulmajid Morani October 31, 2020 at 7:55 pm Reply

    As usual, i enjoyed this Excursion; thanx a Lot

    • Ali Karim November 2, 2020 at 10:23 pm Reply

      Thank you; glad you enjoyed

  • Amirali Mulji November 2, 2020 at 1:09 pm Reply

    Excellent videos and photos.Please send more experiences. TH.

    • Ali Karim November 2, 2020 at 10:23 pm Reply

      Thanks; so glad you enjoyed. We still have more to cover Uzbekistan coming soon

  • Badru Walji November 5, 2020 at 8:51 am Reply

    Thank you. Just wonderful, excellent photos.

    • Ali Karim November 5, 2020 at 8:52 am Reply

      THanks Mr Walji. Glad you liked the blog

  • Nick paroo November 8, 2020 at 9:37 am Reply

    Very nice Ali

    • Ali Karim November 8, 2020 at 1:06 pm Reply

      THanks Nick

  • Muhsin November 8, 2020 at 5:29 pm Reply

    Thank you Ali. A part of the world I have yearned to visit (and I am sure I am not the only one!).
    Great to feel as if I am there during at a time like this when locked down in our own countries.

    • Ali Karim November 10, 2020 at 9:00 pm Reply

      Thanks Muhsin, for the feedback.
      I am told that at times like this where our movements are restricted, people are less inclined to read travel blogs like mine. However, I always feel it is good to read such blogs, get inspired, and make plans for when the restrictions do eventually get lifted :).
      Give one hope and something to look forward to.

  • Mahamud Jinnah November 10, 2020 at 8:55 pm Reply

    Awesome summary as usual. Brought back lot of memories especially of Serena hotel. It was under construction in 2008 when we visited.

    The lighting of the parks is amazing as is the Jamat Khana.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Ali Karim November 10, 2020 at 9:01 pm Reply

      Thanks Mahamud, for the feedback. You were there many years before us; probably while it was still under-developed.

  • Sadru Jivraj November 11, 2020 at 7:44 am Reply

    Looks beautiful

  • Iqbal Talib November 11, 2020 at 9:12 pm Reply

    Excellent, Ali.

    • Ali Karim November 11, 2020 at 9:39 pm Reply

      THanks Iqbal; glad you enjoyed the blog

  • Shamshudin Visram November 15, 2020 at 9:15 am Reply

    Looks beautiful!

    • Ali Karim November 15, 2020 at 9:24 am Reply

      It was indeed beautiful and very clean.
      THanks Shamshudin

  • Shiraz Bata November 15, 2020 at 9:16 am Reply

    Always interesting thanks for sharing
    shiraz

    • Ali Karim November 15, 2020 at 9:24 am Reply

      THanks Shiraz; glad you found the blog interesting

  • Zahir Dharsee November 15, 2020 at 7:43 pm Reply

    Hi Ali – again a good and informative write up. I recall from some history class or school atlas that once upon a time, Dushanbe was called Stalinabad, after Josef Stalin, the brutal Soviet leader whose reign from the mid 1920’s to the late 1950’s was responsible for much religious and ethnic persecution and problems in this region. It was interesting seeing your pictures of our Ismaili Center and other places of worship in Dushanbe indicating that religious toleration in now permitted but with reservations. This may indicate that Stalin’s policies have eventually failed. This is the only Ismaili Centre I have not visited. Inshallah some day.

    Thanks for the write up and all the best.

    Take care and stay safe.

    Thanks

    Zahir

    • Ali Karim November 15, 2020 at 10:28 pm Reply

      Thanks Zahir

  • Pingback: Silk Road 25: More Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Oct 2019 - Ali Karim Travelog

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