I entered Tadjikistan from the north Oybek border crossing between Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan. My minivan with guide and driver picked me up and brought me to Khujand the 2nd largest city of the country after the capital Dushanbe.
First I visited the Sugd Historical Museum that covers the history of the region from the stone age to independence. There is a room with beautiful mosaic displaying the life of Alexandre The Great who conquered the city of Khujand.
Just outside the museum there is a park with at the end of it a monument with all the major writers and poets of the Persian literature.
Next stop was the Panshanbe bazaar in the city center where they mainly sell food (fruit, vegetables, meat,bread,seeds, oils etc,…).
A part of this market is outside, the other part inside. It’s location is on the main city square with a Mosque at the opposite side of it. Next to the square there is a War monument remembering the deaths of the 2nd World War. Many Tadjiks also served in the Sovjet army during the war.
After that I had dinner in a local Tadjik restaurant where I had plov, a popular dish in the former Sovjet republics, it’s cooked rice with lamb carrots and union and maybe some other vegetables. It really fills good up your stomach.
In the afternoon I got to see the biggest Lenin statue in Central Asia made of tin, located at the outskirts of the city. From there back to the city to see the Ismoili Somoni monument the founder of Tadjik statehood, standing on a hill with a scepter in his hand.
The stairs leading to the monument have decorations on both sides with mosaics that display different phases of Tadjikistans history. From Ancient times when this region was under the rule of Alexander The Great, later the Arabic culture and Persian culture and the Sovjet times.
Next was the city of Istaravshan
The light blue dome of the Kok Gumbaz Mosque is the first building I noticed from a hill when overlooking the valley with the city of Istaravshan.
I visited the Kok Gumbaz Mosque with Medressa, the school where children could study religion, now the school is closed by the Tadjik government, however you can still visit it as I did but it looks a little abandoned. Some kids welcomed me and asked me where I was from, they don’t see that many tourists here.
Hazrat-i-Shah Mosque and Mausoleum was my second mosque to visit here and this one looked like a little Chinese temple with the wooden pillars and the colorful paintings on the ceiling.