This was our second trip with Remote Lands... On Java, our guide was excellent and we loved being the only people at Borobudur after the monument closed to the public.
Lying on the main road connecting the two largest cities in Tajikistan, Istaravshan stands proud as one of the oldest settlements in the whole country, dating back to around 500 BC. The region is bordered by Uzbekistan in the north and west, and the main administrative city sits in the foothills of the Turkestan mountain range, approximately one hour southwest of the major city of Khujand.
Istaravshan has its fair share of interesting historical monuments and ancient remains, with many dubbing it a "museum city". Highlights include the stunning Kok Gumbaz mosque, as well as the double-domed Khazrat-i-Shokh Mausoleum that dates back to the 18th century. Istaravshan offers little in the way of western comforts, with few quality hotels or amenities, meaning this ancient settlement remains more of a stop-over spot rather than a major tourist destination in its own right, despite its undeniable beauty.
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Also known as Abdulatif Sultan mosque, Kok Gumbaz is an impressive religious complex dating back to the 18th century. The crumbling perimeter is comprised of giant square bricks, whilst inside you’ll find a spacious square with ornately decorate walls and a window pointing to Mecca, the birthplace of Islam. You can’t miss the gleaming blue dome from the outside either, which towers above the local area.
Touted as the sacred tomb of St. Khazrati-Shokh - the brother of Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad – this double-domed mausoleum is one of the most popular visitor and pilgrim stop-offs in the city of Istaravshan. Visitors can fully explore the site, which is located in the historical-architectural complex of Khazrati Shokh, as well as bathe in the spring water in front of the building, considered medicinal.
This ancient fort was once home to local aristocracy who controlled the city, and today it lies in ruins at the entrance to the city. With its two turrets, stone walls and central blue dome, the fort - though crumbling - is quite an impressive sight from afar, and makes an interesting stop-off on the road either from or to the city of Istaravshan.
There’s a world of culture, history and nature waiting to be uncovered by those daring enough to be different. This two-week itinerary through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan offers exactly that - something a little different. A truly memorable 14-day trip through this fascinating yet often overlooked part of the world.
An unforgettable two-week adventure into the heartland of Tajikistan’s most popular beauty spot. The Fann mountains have it all: flora, fauna, rocky gorges and grassy meadows. Spend fourteen days trekking and climbing to scenic peaks and camping overnight by stunning glacial lakes.
The newly-built Hotel Sugd in Khujand, Tajikistan offers 24 rooms and great access to the city's attractions. The comfortable European-Asian style rooms have a warm wooden theme throughout, and all have their own private bathroom, large TV, stereo system and fully-stocked mini-bar, all as standard. Some rooms also have their own balconies for relaxing and soaking up the sun in the summer months. Hotel Sugd provides food throughout the day, and an excellent buffet breakfast is served in the morning. There's also a small lobby bar open until the late evening. One of the real selling points of this hotel is its location, situated in a convenient spot in the city of Khujand, close to shops, bar, restaurants and a short distance from most of the attractions about town. It's easy to explore this fascinating city, which is one of the oldest in the whole of Central Asia.
The Khudjand Grand in northern Tajikistan accommodates up to 50 people in its modern and tasteful range of single and double rooms. The location is convenient, with easy access to all the attractions such as the Opera House (which is located just a few steps away on the opposite side of the street) and the History Museum. Both the airport and train station are about 40 minutes’ drive away too. Downstairs is a fine dining restaurant, although for those reluctant to leave their rooms, guests are welcome to order food to their rooms. Elsewhere on site at the Khudjand Grand Hotel is a billiards table, sauna and bar, so guests won't be short of things to do when just staying for a few days.