Khorog - the capital of the roof of the world

A Pea is good in Khorog,

A cadi hinted to me.

We`ve got a stormy Panj Sir

It is the biggest of all.  

The voice of Pamir is heard from all around-

The roar of the gigantic mountain avalanches as well.

And the sheep are grazing in the valleys,

And the poppies are blooming on the slopes.

Sergey Shuba


In fact the city has two streets and there are poplars are planted. One of the streets still has the name of Lenin and it is located at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level at the confluence of Gunt and Shahdara rivers at their confluence in Panj River. It borders with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Khorog has a lot of interesting attractions, which are not found even in the capital of Tajikistan.

Khorog is located in a narrow valley and it dates back to the late XIX century. After the final establishment of the state border between the Russian Empire and Afghanistan, Russian border fortifications appeared in the small settlement of Khorog, which consisted of three houses and barracks. According to the agreement signed at that time, Russia has the right to maintain their military (border) garrisons in the Western Pamirs (in Gorno-Badakhshan).

In the fall of 1895 and till the spring of 1896 Russian border posts has been organized in Rushan, in the village of Kalai-Vamar, in Shugnan, in the village of Khorog and in Vakhan in the village of Dung. A few years later the headquarters of the Pamir border detachment, which was organized in 1893 in the "post Pamir" (now Murghab village), was moved to Khorog, which became in fact the center of administration of Shugnan, Rushan and Wakhan and formally they belonged to the Khanate of Bukhara.

The history of Pamirs as a whole during the Russian Empire and in particular Khorog begins from 1876, when the Kokand Khanate collapsed. But due to the small number of the population of the territory was in oblivion under the power of Russian authorities. This "oblivion" went on until the occupation of western Pamir Beks, Shugnan and Roshan by Afghan Wakhanis and when the Chinese have promoted its border checkpoints to the lake Jashilkul a clash took place between them and the Afghans. England had firmly established its position in Afghanistan against all of this background and decided to divide the Pamirs with China and particularly with Afghanistan sending military-diplomatic mission in Kashgar. However, these plans were not realized due to the vigilance of the Russian Empire consul in Kashgar Nikolai Petrovsky (1882-1903) and the military orientalist, Lieutenant General Bronislaw Grombchevski (member of Alay campaigns under the leadership of M.D. Skobelev in 1876 and a member of the General demonstration activities (Samarkand detachment) at the border with Afghanistan in 1878; a perfect master of UZ, TJ and Persian).  

 The Russian Empire intervened on time and thanks to the coordinated actions of military units, particularly the Pamir that managed to keep the Pamirs as the representatives of indigenous peoples, struggling by the end of the XIX century to the last 17,000 souls and certainly without this action Pamirian as a nation would stop its existence because of the power of slavery in the region as a custom. The last slaves in the Pamirs were liberated in 1896 by the chief of the Pamir detachment captain N.A. Sulotsky, providing them with livestock "for the first time for their independent living".

Life in Khorog and its surroundings gradually began to change, a regular basis of goods were delivered by camel caravans from Osh on a paved road to the village. The Russian authorities opened a school for the local population and the medical assisting departments and from the 1920s of the XX century the number of households in Khorog were more than 90 and their amount continued to grow day by day.

In 1905 by the initiative of Colonel Yelagin who served in the Pamirs donated 10 thousand rubles for the construction of an Orthodox church in one of the mountainous border crossings. The budget of the Turkestan Governor-General A. Samson was spent for the construction of the church in Khorog at an altitude of 2600 m above sea level. The construction was started in 1911 and lasted five years until 1916. The glimpse of the Orthodox shrines coincided with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Pamir border detachment, as if to emphasize the importance of this facility for the border guards of the spirit. Unfortunately, the erected temple in honor of the Archangel Michael does not function.

Few people are aware of that the Pamir was a platform for testing equipment and weapons of the Soviet Army after the World War II. This information was classified for a long time. It was just appeared for the first time in 2004 in prints the details of the test at high altitude. So in August-September 1953 the testers overcome the highest pass Ak-Baital (from Kirg. "White Horse", 4655 m) in Tajikistan. There was proposed to rename the pass into the "peak tank" after that great event.  Within the testing of military equipment they also experienced the survival in the harsh mountain conditions. In 1967 for the first time in the world the 1st Parachute Battalion of 111th Guards Regiment, stationed in Osh, on the plateau in the Alai valley at an altitude of 3600 m was carried out its landing. For this feat the paratroopers were awarded orders and medals. And later in 1976, 10th separate reconnaissance company rose to a height of 4644 m, giving it the name Airborne peak.

All these and many other events naturally influenced the development of Khorog. Already in 1926 the first urban-type buildings were constructed in the administrative center of Badakhshan. In 1929 the first plane flew in Khorog and two years later the car was driven there. In 1934 the construction of the first Khorog hydroelectric power station was started in the Pamir. In those years the construction of the famous Pamir Highway - east and west was staring as well.

Nowadays Khorog is fairly well developed and it is an important,  scientific, cultural, educational, logistical and economic center of the region, where the Institute of Humanities and Pamir Biological Institute of the Tajik Academy of Sciences, Khorog State University named after Moyonsho Nazarshoev, Lyceum of the Aga Khan and a branch of the International University of Central Asia, Khorog regional Drama theater named after Mehrubon Nazarov, health centers and hospitals, as well as a new regional theater with 1,000 seats and a medical college with 240 seats are functioning. Spiritual life is represented by the Ismaili Center which was built in 2018.

There is a Local History Museum named after Kirgizbek Hushkadamov in the center of the city, which presents the material on ancient and modern history of the Pamirs, its natural resources, scientific and cultural achievements. The museum's collection consists of almost seven thousand units.

There is a Pamir botanical garden in the eastern part of the city - the highest garden in the Commonwealth - a unique natural laboratory for the study of plant life at high altitudes. There is an airport with the 1840 meters length in the north and western part.

 Perhaps the most unusual things that today can be found in Khorog is a modern bookcase equipped with  USB-ports of 10 pieces all over the city where anyone can take a book home or on the contrary leave theirs to others for free. Innovation is very popular among the local population and you can charge the phone and read simultaneously. Cupboards are open 24 hours and there can be found both educational and artistic books in Russian and English languages. The purpose of the project is to improve the culture of book reading, self-awareness, changing attitudes to the book as a source of knowledge.

In addition, for the ecological purposes in Khorog were installed special containers for different types of waste - glass, plastic and paper and such practice were established a long time ago. By the way, Khorog was the first regional center of such practices and an active promoter of clean streets and social advertising telling not to throw garbage anywhere.

For the construction of a house as a base is often used stone and it is strong and durable.

The business card of the Pamirs is called juraby - wool socks knitted from sheep and goat. Socks with bright juicy ornament are actually a talisman, designed to protect its host from disease and misery and give him a warm home.

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