If you would like to get your portion of adrenaline and unforgettable experience then make a trip to the Pamirs. The unusual beauty of the nature, sincerity, and hospitality of the local Pamiri people impressed everyone who visited these places over the last few centuries. The Pamirs have a special position among the most beautiful places of the world. This is mainly explained due to their inaccessibility and mystery which surrounded this region for many centuries.
Are you planning to visit the Eastern Pamirs? Then you will see a breathtaking high-plateau that forms at 4,000 m altitude the foothills that are surrounded from all sides by up to 7,000 m high peaks and ranges. For this part of the Pamirs, the desert aridity of the air is typical and comparable with the Karakum area, and with almost constant cold winds. Variation of day temperature can reach 40 degrees. In summer, in a day time sun burns skin, while in the shadow it is cold. Frost reaches up to minus fifteen at nights. Rivers, flowing during the day-time, turn into ice after sunset. Snowstorms can even occur during the height of summer here. At this breathtaking altitude fire hardly burns, and the temperature of water boiling is considerably lower than 100°C. Because of strong rarefaction of the air every step is difficult to make. Everyone who comes here, including local people get signs of altitude sickness. The climate here is severe-arctic.
The local population (mainly nomad Kyrgyz people) are occupied with yak breeding (mountain cows), covered with long black wool, and also with hunting of mountain sheep – arkhar. Arkhars are a symbol of the Eastern Pamirs; their horns are its emblem.
Crowns with sheep horns were carried by Scythian leaders and Persian kings, to emphasise their divinity and immortality. Alexander the Great wore his crown during ceremonies, for which he was called two-horned. They symbolize a link with the upper world that symbolised the sacred space around them. Two horns that come from one base imply Root of the World – Tree of Life, and a pillar with horns is thought of as the manifestation of the Axis of the Universe. Horns in this case serve as a symbol of the sky (heavens) center of the universe, harmony and order.
With the sunrise arkhars descend to graze in the valleys and open areas between the high mountain peaks. By midday, still grazing, they slowly ascend up the mountain slopes, to their day-time grazing areas. Today hunting is only permitted with a special permission. Each hunter tracing Marco Polo mountain sheep will be assigned and accompanied by a professional experienced ranger. Riding by horse, you can trace arkhar as close as of 200-300m. Hunting was of great importance in the Pamirs; it was considered as sacred as sacrificial offering. Most of all mountain goats and sheep were hunted, which are considered as the purest animals; for instance according to a legend they are grazed by the mountain spirits – pari (peri). A person who eats their meet is cleansed for 40 days from impurities.
In comparison to the Eastern Pamirs, the Western Pamirs seem a real paradise. Winters here are mild; summers are warm but not hot. Deep gorges, wide river valleys with bushes of dog-rose and sea-buckthorn, tall trees and green fields give the Western Pamirs a real charm. From time immemorial and until today people continue to cultivate small plots of fertile lands in the deep mountain valleys. Almost all inhabitants of the Pamirs are good musicians and listeners, with acute hearing. Every Pamiri house has not one but many musical instruments – rubob, tanbur, setor, gijak, nai and doira (daf) which are considered sacred for the owners. In case of fire, earthquake or any other disaster they are saved first of all. Most of the Pamiri instruments are carefully preserved and are passed on from fathers to children as a family relic. They are made of roots of old trees. It is thought that the older a tree is, the nobler is the sound it gives. The best instruments are made of the wood of apricot trees. It is cut in spring-time, at the time of blossoming, while for the leather cover a lamb is killed. It is said that the sound of the favorite instrument in the Pamirs – rubab – is the sound of a weeping tree and of the lamb that was slaughtered in the best moment of its life.
From ancient times, the Pamirs were unmatched in terms of the number of minerals, deposits of precious stones and gold. From time immemorial treasures were taken off the country to Babilon, Persia, India, China, Afghanistan and Bukhara. But the most famous one was Badakhshan la’l (spinel), which is considered the best in the world. According to a legend, initially it decorated Mamonakh, and the two famous spinels – Rubi of a Black Prince and Rubi of Timur – are mounted in the British crown. Among the endless diversity of caves of natural origin, there are some, where no one has ever been. Numerous legends about ancient treasures of Alexander the Great and secrets of ancient travelers are connected with these caves.
In the township of Ishkashim there are wonderful petroglyphs most of which are placed at the altitude of 3,200-3,300m above sea level some 30 km South from Khorog at the end of the mountain gorge there is Vibist-dara, rich of petroglyphs. There are four groups of petroglyphs. As opposed to most of the petroglyphs in the Pamirs, where most of the subjects are linked with hunting, images of Vibist-dara are devoted to man and ornaments. Many petroglyphs in the Eastern Pamirs are close to the remnants of the ancient city of miners of Bazar-dara. Images of two-wheeled horsed chariots, mountain goats, archers in pointed hat. Visit this unique crossroad of ancient civilization and cultures that left a lasting memory on its descendents.