Tajikistan is definitely, and definitely not probably, where your obsession with travelling and a pressing call for economic caution intersect, in a good way that is. Destinations like Dushanbe make for a good argument as to why travelling to Tajikistan should be made a priority among one’s travel plans. Those of you caught tight in a dull work trajectory, waiting for something to happen in your lives and tiring yourselves in doing so, may want to invest in yourselves for a change, kiss the pharmaceutical goodness goodbye and book cheap flights to Dushanbe: the capital of Tajikistan.
Standing quite tall (exceeding 800m above sea level), this largest yet relatively youngest city of Tajikistan keeps an almost equidistant position from the Hissar Valley and the Kofarnihon River. No ivory or gilded ceiling glitters this capital; hedged within from all sides in the thick of Mother Nature, the rising slopes of Hissar Range on the east and eastern-north and the river abovementioned facing that eastern-north, Dushanbe makes for a bountiful agricultural zone. However, it is the comparatively closer brook of Varzob that characterizes the city, provides for the local’s diversions and flavours their garden vegetables. The Silk Route graced the geography of Central Asia and staged numerous scenes of mutualism at work. This Monday Bazaar, for Dushanbe translates to ‘Monday’, served as a touch-and-go junction for camel trains from Arabia and Tatar horses from Mongolia before the need was felt by the USSR to expand it to a big city. Hailed as Stalinabad at that point on the historical timeline, the town shared in the harvest of everyone who was bestowed upon by blessings of the city’s namesake. The period following the subjugation till its independence as Dushanbe, this centre of silk and cotton has been upwards on the gradient to success and prosperity.
Peak and Off-Peak Seasons
As it is, Dushanbe maintains its homeostasis with a constant Mediterranean climate: an uninterrupted stretch of hot and dry summer till relieved by winter; cold but not too unkind. Every time it rains, it’s a downpour unlike some of the other capitals in Central Asia. As aforementioned, the mountain ranges surrounding Dushanbe guard it against freezing Siberian currents, even knocks them down a bit. The glaciered river basin approximating the Upper Varzob vicinity generates its own microclimate, cold and a bit on the rough side. For winter sports aficionados, this is high-season. But for regular visitors, October-November (fall) offers the boost needed to take your next leap in life. Again this is the time when the infamous buzkashi season sets in- a tourist’s most wanted.
Tourist Attractions and Getting around town
When cherry picking for the best tourist attractions in Dushanbe, the Rudaki Avenue is perhaps the best place to welcome yourself into the city and the most straightforward way of mixing in the crowd. The Central Square features a Memorial Complex showcasing in vintage the Ismoil Somoni Monument, a tribute reflecting the ancestral regard the Tajik have for their ancestors. The Museum of National Antiquities exhibits the best of Sogdian, Persian and Islamic remains. But none comes so near to dropping an archaeologist’s jaw in awe than the statue of Sleeping Buddha. In here one imagines how many wonders of the world are yet to be discovered and still how many have failed to torch the Internet on fire. Hitchhiking is common enough and expedient enough but not at all advisable. The public transport works best. Trolley buses run throughout the city and beyond much like their Pakistani cousins, the proudly presented Metro buses. Moving along, the Victory Park is a slightly different sight, and refreshing too. A midday brunch at the park’s centre would undoubtedly engage the envy of more impressive buffets anywhere else.
Now as is often the case in a thorough excursion, a traveller’s legs, discovering the mind at perfect ease with a parallel discovery of their own burden, and concluding to be at odds, begin to show an unwillingness most often taken as fatigue. A common recipe for passing quality time when a traveller’s legs begin to rebel against him is to visit a good library. The A. Firdausi National Library is a welcome change. With a vast archive of manuscripts in a variety of tongues has enough for travellers of all breeds and creeds. All those finer points which we have failed to compress in a nutshell on this webpage can be examined in great detail and to a traveller’s heart’s content. At least you now know where to look for. The Pamir Mountain Range is a chief natural highlight Tajikistan. The Pamir Highway, if you hear the mountains calling and should you choose to respond, joins Dushanbe for a good run before it moves on to Khorog in direction of the said mountains.
Dushanbe (recall the Monday Bazaar?) went through a number of developmental stages before it became the tourist hotspot we see today. At first a solo bazaar, then a marketplace and then a cluster of markets, Dushanbe still preserves some of its oldest and most indigenous bazaars. Barakat bazaar is just in the neighbourhood of Hotel Tajikistan. The backside of the Ayni Opera and Ballet Theatre (highly recommended) is abuzz with locals bargaining in the Shohmansur bazaar, famous for handicrafts and dry fruit above all else. Connoisseurs of musical instruments might like what they see in the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments. The younger lot will have their share of fun at the Lukhtak puppet theatre and the M. Vohidov Youth Theatre, though it goes without saying that adults will also enjoy experiencing something nostalgic in that. Miscellaneous include the Rohat Teahouse, the hydropower station on the Varzob channel and last but certainly not the least, the Hissar Fort.
Hotels and Accommodation
Mercuric travellers may want to sign up for any bed and breakfast lodging nearby but those staying a while may need to add a star or two. For quality accommodation, Hotel Tajikistan competes for the same international standards that foreign tourists are used to and still seeking. The Central Department Store too, along with many other chain brands, allows for a more convenient stay. No point in visiting the Tajik capital and not have a morsel or two of any local dish. Tajik cookery is a hit or miss depending upon your personal preferences. Meat is easy to come by but bacon-lovers may have to long for it for as long as they stay here- Tajikistan is a Muslim country after all. The same goes for those mistaking Tajik food to be similar to Indian food for as the latter spices up the meat to conceal its smell, the former relishes the very odour the natural meat produces in a cooker. Buzkashi is the wild side while Suzani embroidery is the more refined side of the same coin. Buy some pairs of Pamiri socks as souvenirs, if only to hang them from a fireplace mantle on Christmas night!
Flights to Dushanbe
Last minute connecting flights from London to Dushanbe can be had on your own terms with Turkish Airlines, Ural Airlines and Austrian Airlines via Istanbul, Krasnodar and Vienna. While it can be a pain to sit through 11 hours of a hectic flight experience (there are no direct flights from the UK to Dushanbe), tourists can rest assured that all airlines offer deluxe travel experiences and depending on the class, even better choices can be opted for. At the same time, Swiss International Airlines, British Airways and Air Astana are assisting go-getters to grasp their dreams through their portals in Zürich, Amsterdam and Almaty in that order, though these flights exceed the 11 hour flight duration and are recommended to those travelling on a slightly flexible schedule.