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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Khazrat-i-Shokh Mausoleum

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.

Kok Gumbaz

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.

Mugteppa Fort

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.

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