Our last destination on our travels through Tajikistan was Khujand, an ancient Silk Road city, which dates back about 2,500 years. Just like Osh in Kyrgyzstan, Khujand is one of the most important cities in the culturally diverse Ferghana Valley. It’s also the second largest city in Tajikistan and, in my opinion, the most interesting one.
We had a full day of travelling from Dushanbe to Khujand, so we didn’t expect to do much when we eventually got there. We weren’t sure if there was even much to see in Khujand, as we hadn’t done much research beforehand, but those thoughts were definitely put to shame when we arrived.
Khujand is a beautiful city with lots to offer. Taking a stroll in the city center is like visiting the Middle Ages, when Khujand was a majorly influential city on the Silk Road. All within 100 metres of each other are the Khujand Fortress, an ancient castle which has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over a period of 2,500 years, a restored part of the eastern wall of the fortress dating back to the 10th century, numerous fountains, statues and other important buildings. The city is extremely attractive and easy to find your way around in.
The city is so rich on history and culture, and on the one night that we spent there, we were lucky enough to experience some of it.
We had a few hours of daylight left, so we went to explore the center and saw that loads of festivities were going on. There were people everywhere; people with Tajik flags, people selling potato twisters (they were awesome!!) and popcorn, a concert with some famous Tajik guy and generally a lot of people having a lot of fun. While we were waiting to order our second lot of potato twisters, we met a young local girl, who told us what was going on. We had arrived just in time for a big celebration of something that I unfortunately can’t remember (and the internet is no help in this situation). Nevertheless, it was a fun thing to experience and to be a part of!
Just as we were about to order our potato twisters, the girl came up to us and handed us one each as a gift. She seemed very proud of her country and proud that we wanted to travel in Tajikistan – but I can’t understand those who wouldn’t!
Our stay in Khujand was short and sweet, but the memories from that one evening will last forever. I had such a great time and I actually wish that we had spent more time there, but at least we’re saving something good for the next time we visit Tajikistan – because I know that there’ll be a next time! Actually, while we were travelling in Tajikistan, I was kind of over it a lot of the time, mostly because travelling there is so difficult. Everything takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money and causes a lot of frustration. But at the same time, that is exactly what I love about travelling in remote places like Tajikistan. I don’t like things to be easy, which next to always means touristy. I like things to be the way they’ve always been in that place, to travel like the locals and to not have the country change because of tourism. Tajikistan was exactly that, and Khujand was the perfect city to end our travels in the country with a bang.