Saturday 20 May 2023
Highlights: Exploring Istaravshan, Hazrati-Shoh Mosque, Mug Teppe, Museum of Sughd
Today we left the remote Gazza Village as we travelled back into more populated areas. This started with a visit to the Hazrati-Shoh Mosque which is located in historic town of Istaravshan. here we learned about the Five Pillars are the core beliefs and practices of Islam:
- Profession of Faith (shahada) – reciting the following phase: ‘There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God‘
- Prayer (salat) – pray five times a day.
- Alms (zakat) – donated a fixed portion of their income to community members in need
- Fasting (sawm) – Fast during the daylight hours of Ramadan.
- Pilgrimage (hajj) – at least once in their life visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
For those that can’t visit Mecca than locally their religion allows followers to instead visit the Hazrati-Shoh Mosque, which if they do seven times can count as the last step above. This was a very important local interpretation as during the Soviet era countries under that regime where not allowed to visit Saudi Arabia and therefore Mecca.
From here we visited the Mug Teppe fortress. While there current structure is very new it stands on historical fortress site that was stormed by Alexandar the Great and later by other conquerors to ensure control of the Silk Road. It is a shame that some much of the historical structure is now gone.
On arrival in Khŭjand we went straight to Museum of Sughd. The museum has been built within the Khujand Fortress on the southeastern corner of the old city wall. The displays I found the most impressive where the marble mosaics depicting the life of Alexander of Macedon (Alexander the Great).
After checking into our accomandation and a short rest we meet up again for a short city walking tour. Before leaving the hotel area we enjoyed the celebration of a local wedding, lots of music and dancing.
During our walking tour we learnt a little about recent Tajikistan history and the current President Emomali Rahmon who helped end the civil war after Soviet Empire collapsed and has been in power since 1994. He is consider a ‘good’ dictator for bring peace to the country and developing it’s infrastructure.
Our group dinner was a little chaotic, no menus in English (or with pictures) meant we relied on totally on our CEO Rustam. The food was great but the ordering and later paying was a bit problemetic. I did enjoy the night time walk back to our hotel (whose internet only allowed a couple of short messages back home).
Its been so great following you along to places that are my dream destinations! It looks as amazing as I dream it would be!