Dallying in Dushanbe

Monday is a good day to visit the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe, because the name Dushanbe means “Monday”.  What was once a small village has now become the country’s major city, but only because the Soviet Union needed a convenient place to transplant a lot of foreigners in order to build a cotton and silk production centre.

So dear was Dushanbe to the hearts of the Russians that they re-named it Stalinabad, after their despotic leader.  So despised was the Soviet’s despotic leader that the city was re-named Dushanbe during the Kruschev years.

These days, Dushanbe is considered to be Central Asia’s best looking capital, mainly because of its backdrop of mountains and its tree-lined avenues and attractively-coloured neoclassical buildings.

Originally a small Tajik settlement, the Russian Red Army captured Dushanbe following the Russian Revolution, but the city was liberated in 1922 by the Tajik national hero Enver Pasha, but the town was re-captured following Pasha’s death in a gun battle.

To learn about Tajikistan you should really visit the Museum of National Antiquities.  A couple of the outstanding exhibits include a an ivory image of Alexander the Great, a 6th-century scabbard and hilt in the shape of a griffin and the largest Buddha in Central Asia, a 13 metre-long Sleeping Buddha that is at least 1500 years old.

The Tajiks, who are now a minority in their own country, are of Persian origin, and this background is reflected in facade of the Writer’s Union Building which is adorned with the sculptured stone figures of the great Persian writers Sadruddin Ayni and Omar Khayam.

Dushanbe is situated in the Hissar Valley, and there is some great hiking nearby. Tajikistan is a country filled with mountains and rivers. In fact, almost the entire territory of the republic, more than 90 %, is occupied by mountains.   

Flying into Dushanbe is not easy, simply because there are not too many flights to western countries, apart from Russia.  Probably the best airline to use is Somon Air, which is Tajikistan’s only privately-owned airline.  Somon Air flies to Frankfurt, many Russian cities, Istanbul and Dubai and it is one of the few airlines in the region which allows you to make online bookings.

Upon arrival in Dushanbe you will need to purchase a visa, which can be expensive depending on your nationality.  The cheapest way to get from the airport to the city is by minibuses which follow a fixed route. Minibus numbers 1 and 8 are the best for the city route.

You can catch a taxi, but it is recommended that you only use officially licensed taxis. Before getting into the car, ensure the driver understands where you want to go, and agree the fare. Taxis in Tajikistan do not have meters, so it helps if you know the approximate fare before you begin.

1 comment to Dallying in Dushanbe

  • It is possible to transit – Domodedovo Airport which has daily flights to Dushanbe without a visa if you have no checked luggage otherwise a transit visa is required flight is on Domodedovo Airlines . Aussie Brits and such countries can apply for a visa at the very small airport in Dushanbe be sure to bring 2 passport photos and know the persons address in which you are staying. though not with intentions of stealing just wanting to help and gain a tip..Latvias national airline AirBaltic operate flights -Dushanbe as of June 1 2009.

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