Plus Central Asia Onward travel blog

Park in Town - Forground, On Distant Hill - Arch Celebrating 2500...


Pic #3774

Got up early(6:30) due to the heat...and the bazaar is right outside the window. My back was killing me, but since guys slept in one dorm & gals in another I did not do my exercises until Bon invited me into their room - other gals had left - and I could use the floor. Feeling much better we headed out to see the town, not much for tourists...a big bazaar, lots of people. We headed to the citadel from where Alexander the Great purportedly reached his most eastern domain in 4th century BC. It once had 7 gates and 6 km of fortified walls - this easternmost point of A the G is the beginning of the long Fergana Valley, one of the most fertile in Central Asia now divided by borders between nations(Turkmen, Uzbek, & Tajik). The fort is now a very poorly maintained, crumbling piece of wall which actually was built in 15th cent AD...photos from early 19th century show a much more complete structure. Centuries of conquerers have leveled the area several times over. The reconstructions done are inferior in every way, poor workmanship and materials, so it is crumbling as well.

We left town via minibus around 3 arr. in Istarvahan(called Kir by Parthians, Cyropol by A the G, and Ura-Tyube by Russians just to give you some sense of the transitory nature of the place in terms of various ruling political entities). The town celebrated its 2500 anniversary in 2002, so it has taken this all in stride it seems. Took a taxi minibus to the bazaar from whence we walked the 500 m S. to Hotel Chashnobar. The fellow -owner- greeted us and showed us a very spacious 3 bed room w/ bath for only 25 somani ($7 US) each. After last nite and the shared squat toilets w/ no running water, this place is luxury 5 star...even hot water showers! We were majorly tired, the 40 degree C.+ temps are getting to us. After the cool of the Pamirs we have to readjust our bodies to the lower elevation heat!

We stayed in our room until 3 - being very tired we read & slept - and heat outside was oppresssive. We then walked to the bazaar, got a minitaxi bus to 'old town' which was not very impressive from the outside so we declined to explore it in the heat. Saw the mosque(Mazar-i-Chor Gumbaz) w/ paintings on its ceiling, plus the hill where in 329 BC where A the G stormed the fortress of the Sogdian people. Now it is the site of where they re-erected a huge arch celebrating their 2500 anniversary. All these Alex fortifications were later levelled by Jengis Khan.

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