Silk Road 25: More 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 10, 2019

We spent a couple more days in Dushanbe checking it out some more; as it is a pleasant, clean city.

A little more about Dushanbe, which translates to Monday in Persian. It is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. As of early 2020, Dushanbe had a population of 870,000. Until 1929, the city was known in Russian as Dyushambe, and from 1929 to 1961 as Stalinabad, after Joseph Stalin. In ancient times, what is now or is close to modern Dushanbe, was settled by various empires and peoples, including various neolithic cultures, the Achaemenid EmpireGreco-Bactria, the Kushan Empire, and the Hephalites. In the Middle Ages, more settlements began near modern-day Dushanbe such as Hulbuk and its famous palace which we drove by on the way from Khorog (see previous blog). From the 17th century to the early 20th, Dushanbe began to grow into a market village controlled at times by the empires of Hisor, Balkh, and finally Bukhara. Soon after the Russian invasion in 1922, the town was made the capital of the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924, which commenced Dushanbe’s development and rapid population growth that continued until the Tajik Civil War. After the war, the city became capital of an independent Tajikistan and continued its growth and development into a modern city that it is today.

One day, Baha took us to check out the Karvon market, which is a huge clothing market, sectioned with clothing from different countries. We steered clear of the Chinese market, and went to the local ethnic clothing market. Some scenes from this market below

More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Small shoe repair business outside the Korvon market
Local shoe repair business outside the Korvon market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Entrance to the traditional clothing market in Korvon market; busy place
Entrance to the traditional clothing market in Korvon market; busy place
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Many small shops selling clothing etc
Many small shops selling clothing etc
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Clothing alterations were done on the spot by a line of women on sewing machines
Clothing alterations were done on the spot by a line of women on sewing machines
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Nice, simple and clean restaurants in Korvon market
Nice, simple and clean restaurants in Korvon market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Plov, the national dish, was on sell in open air restaurants inside Korvon market
Plov, the national dish, was on sell in open air restaurants inside Korvon market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Watering hole in the market
Watering hole in the market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Non & Kebab restaurant (Naan & Kebab) in the market
“Non & Kebab” restaurant (Naan & Kebab) in the market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Meats and grains/nuts were also on sale in this clothing market
Meats and grains/nuts were also on sale in this clothing market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Spices for sale
Spices for sale
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Market outside the Korvon market
Market outside the Korvon market
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan The Pomegranate juice was sweet and refreshing (& cheap :) )
The Pomegranate juice was sweet and refreshing (& cheap 🙂 )
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Bread was available everywhere
Bread was available everywhere
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Bananas were imported from Equador. And face masks were uncommon as this was pre-Covid time
Bananas were imported from Equador. And face masks were uncommon as this was pre-Covid time

From here, Baha took us to the Mergon market, which is a covered indoor market for fruits and vegetables; some scenes below

More Dushanbe, Tajikistan City scape with the new Omani mosque we had seen the previous night, in full glory
City scape with the new Omani mosque we had seen the previous night, in full glory
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Spices neatly piled up in Mergon market
Spices neatly piled up in Mergon market

Mergon Market was very clean and organized

More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Fresh strawberries
Fresh strawberries
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan These ladies were selling yogurt, where all the water/whey was strained out, and the yogurt became thick like clay. This nice lady gave us some to taste and it was very good
These ladies were selling yogurt, where all the water/whey was strained out, and the yogurt became thick like clay. This nice lady gave us some to taste and it was very good
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Quail eggs
Quail eggs
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Many different kinds of vegetables
Many different kinds of vegetables
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan More vegetables
More vegetables
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Lunch was at Café Parel nearby, where we had fish from Lake Nurel that we had passed when driving into Dushanbe
Lunch was at Café Parel nearby, where we had fish from Lake Nurel that we had passed when driving into Dushanbe

We continued to check out more of Dushanbe, some scenes below

More Dushanbe, Tajikistan The majestic Sadriddin Ayni Opera and Ballet center
The majestic Sadriddin Ayni Opera and Ballet center
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Baha went to try and get us tickets to a show here, but there was nothing on
Baha went to try and get us tickets to a show here, but there was nothing on
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Interesting 3D mural on a city wall
Interesting 3D mural on a city wall
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Parliament buildings
Parliament buildings
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Many streets were wide boulevards with trees in the center and sides, with monuments
Many streets were wide boulevards with trees in the center and sides, with monuments
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan The mainstay was the majestic Ismoil Somoni statue and park
The mainstay was the majestic Ismoil Somoni statue and park
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Interesting street lighting and décor
Interesting street lighting and décor
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Beautiful parks were everywhere, like Rudoki park
Beautiful parks were everywhere, like Rudoki park
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Fountains behind the Ismoil Somoni statue
Fountains behind the Ismoil Somoni statue
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Map of the Samanid empire during Ismoil Somoni’s reign (9th century), depicting the various Silk Roads crisscrossing the empire
Map of the Samanid empire during Ismoil Somoni’s reign (9th century), depicting the various Silk Roads crisscrossing the empire
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Locals enjoying the beautiful parks all over the city center
Locals enjoying the beautiful parks all over the city center

We happened upon the National Library, and decided to check it out. We were happy to discover that they conducted tours, and luckily, they found us an English-speaking guide, who showed us all over this library. The library was very interesting as it had over 8 million books, of which 5 million were in the process of getting digitized. There were books from all over the world in all languages, and classrooms teaching foreign languages for free. And to boot, the building was very beautiful outside and inside.

More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Majestic National Library
Majestic National Library
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan View from the entrance of the library across parks and other government buildings
View from the entrance of the library across parks and other government buildings
More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Grand staircase inside the library
Grand staircase inside the library

We left the park and I almost got in trouble when I took the picture below outside the Parliament buildings and their gardens and fountains. Reason was because there were 2 policemen nearby, and they thought I had taken their picture. So they came over and (with Baha translating), wanted to check if I had taken their picture. I guess taking pictures of policemen is forbidden in Tajikistan, and Dilshad was in a panic, admonishing me for taking so many random pictures; she feared I would be taken to prison and rot in a Tajik jail for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I had not included the policemen in my picture below, and after verifying the same, they politely shook hands and we wandered on. Phew. I need to be careful; being a stupid tourist may not always work as a good excuse….

More Dushanbe, Tajikistan Dangerous picture
Dangerous picture

Baha took us for dinner later that evening to Sim Sim restaurant, where we had pizza and kebabs. Cost for drinks, pizza, Kebabs and desert came to $7 for 3 of us. I love this place 🙂

After a nice few days, it was time to move to Samarkand, Uzbekistan. More on Uzbekistan next

Our journey so far

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

36 thoughts on “Silk Road 25: More Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Oct 2019

  • Pingback: Silk Road 24: Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Oct 2019 - Ali Karim Travelog

  • Shamshudin Visram November 20, 2020 at 1:29 pm Reply

    Wonderful

    • Ali Karim November 20, 2020 at 1:30 pm Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the blog.

  • AJ Kalra November 25, 2020 at 9:26 am Reply

    Thanks Ali. Very interesting place to visit.
    Happy thanksgiving

    • Ali Karim November 25, 2020 at 9:37 am Reply

      Thanks AJ for your feedback.
      Happy Thanks giving to you too

  • Amir & Roshan Mulji November 30, 2020 at 11:26 pm Reply

    Thank you, nice pictures. Mouth became watery seeing shishkabab and fish.

    • Ali Karim December 3, 2020 at 4:53 pm Reply

      Thanks Amir. Glad you enjoyed

  • Amin Somji December 1, 2020 at 1:01 pm Reply

    Wow! Really interesting….could retire there, couldnt we!
    Looks so modern now compared to the late 1990’s…..although we were not allowed to go wandering anywhere much. Disappointed.
    (although we did a bit without telling anyone!!) But it was different in Khorog!

    Warmest wishes to you all,

    Amin.

    • Ali Karim December 3, 2020 at 4:57 pm Reply

      Thanks Amin, happy that this brought back memories for you. So it was not long ago (late 1990’s) that there were many restrictions on foreigners.
      Glad they are not so restrictive now. However, I did have a scare with the policemen and taking pictures 🙁 ; so it could still be dodgy….
      Thanks for the feedback

  • Anil Mawani December 3, 2020 at 4:36 pm Reply

    Hey Ali,

    Loved the photos – brought back so many memories! Very impressed with all the research and how you put it all together. Excellent work!

    Hope you are keeping well and safe..

    Cheers

    Anil

    • Ali Karim December 3, 2020 at 4:59 pm Reply

      Wow, thanks Anil, for the wonderful feedback. Happy to note that this brought back memories for you.

  • Badru Walji December 3, 2020 at 4:37 pm Reply

    So interesting and beautiful.
    Man you did it.

    • Ali Karim December 3, 2020 at 4:59 pm Reply

      Thanks Mr Walji, for the nice feedback

  • Azizeh Juma December 3, 2020 at 4:55 pm Reply

    Beautiful pictures, Dushanbe is such a colourful, vibrant and lively place!

    • Ali Karim December 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm Reply

      Azizeh; indeed Dushanbe was very clean, and nicely decorated in all public spaces.
      Thanks for the feedback

  • Muslim Harji December 6, 2020 at 2:21 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing Ali & Dilshad…Your blog is full of Memories…Loved it.
    Stay safe & Blessed Ameen
    Love, Light & Cheers
    Muslim Harji

    • Ali Karim December 6, 2020 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Thanks Muslim, for the feedback. Glad it brought back fond memories

  • Meharban Karim December 7, 2020 at 2:58 am Reply

    Such wonderful pictures; with beautiful thoughts

    • Ali Karim December 7, 2020 at 9:16 pm Reply

      Thanks Meharban; glad you like the blog post.

  • Mahamud Jinnah December 8, 2020 at 2:18 pm Reply

    Dushanbe is actually very pretty. The library staircase is so grand.
    Beautiful markets.
    Lucky break on that picture; may have ended with you rotting in a Tajik jail as Dilshad said.lol.

    • Ali Karim December 8, 2020 at 4:07 pm Reply

      Thanks; yes I am so thankful that as an ignorant traveller, I did not end up in a Tajik jail 🙂

  • Iqbal Talib December 8, 2020 at 4:04 pm Reply

    Ali,

    Beautifully done city of Dushanbe. The pictures and captions are really well done!

    • Ali Karim December 8, 2020 at 4:08 pm Reply

      THanks Iqbal for the feedback. We were impressed with Dushanbe. Now if only it can transfer/replicate to Khorog and GBAO…..

  • Nazmu Mukhida December 10, 2020 at 8:25 am Reply

    Dushanbe appears to be very interesting

  • Naz Adatia December 10, 2020 at 8:25 am Reply

    Hello Ali and Dilu, beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing. Times like this we can just appreciate the beauty of our world.

    Hope all of you are well.

    Take care and be safe.

    Naz.

  • Zahir Dharsee December 15, 2020 at 10:32 am Reply

    Hi Ali – again excellent write up and very informative. The library is impressive so they must cherish knowledge and education. How were you able to manage linguistically?? Was English spoken in the markets??

    • Ali Karim December 18, 2020 at 8:25 am Reply

      THanks Zahir for the feedback
      To answer your questions; language was a barrier indeed. The library had provided a tour guide who did speak English.
      Everywhere else, NOBODY spoke English, so we used our taxi driver who spoke some broken English as a translator. He was hired for several days so he was with us a lot of the time.
      When all else failed, sign language worked 🙂

  • Shine Bata December 20, 2020 at 9:56 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Shamim Surani December 20, 2020 at 9:57 am Reply

    Thank you

  • Shamshudin Visram December 20, 2020 at 9:57 am Reply

    Great pictures! Ali

    • Ali Karim December 20, 2020 at 9:58 am Reply

      Thanks Shamshudin

  • Shukhrat Azizmamadov December 20, 2020 at 11:00 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing. Super informative about the capital and lifestyle. The economy of the entire country is driven by those bazaars because the production sector went slowly down after the collapse of Soviet Unit and civil war. However, the new Dushanbe looks amazing with it’s clean streets and well-designed historical constructions. Enjoyed reading it and looking forward for your new blog-posts.

    • Ali Karim December 21, 2020 at 9:13 am Reply

      Thanks Shuhrat; that is wonderful insight into the economy of the area. I had always wondered where the wealth in Dushanbe was coming from. The Bazaar’s were indeed huge and bustling with activity.

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  • Muayo Azizmamadova December 24, 2020 at 8:02 pm Reply

    Now I watched your journey through Asia and read your posts, I liked it very much, I just remembered the house, comfort and parents. Thank you for such warm feelings that you gave with these posts.

    • Ali Karim December 24, 2020 at 8:03 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Muayo; for the nice feedback. I am so glad you enjoyed it and it brought back fond memories to you.

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