The Zeravshan Range cuts across Tajikistan, extending from the Pamirs out east and spilling over into Uzbekistan in the west forming the backbone of the Zeravshan Valley which is loaded with a wealth of Tajikistan’s best historic sites and most isolated mountains.
Starting on the western side of the Zeravshan Valley just mere kilometers from the Uzbek border, you’ll find the oldest settlements in all of Central Asia. Delving a little further you’ll find mausoleums dedicated to Persian poets and Islamic scholars. Continuing into the Upper Zeravshan Valley will bring you to lovely villages set amongst stark mountains with unlimited trekking potential, including an arduous mountain pass that will bring those looking for a true challenge through a backdoor into the Pamir.
Zeravshan Valley Highlights
Panjakent is a great jumping-off point for those looking to explore the Fann Mountains, Zeravshan Valley, or Yagnob Valley. Most of the town’s bustle takes place around the busy Panjakent Bazaar, usually at its most thriving in the earlier part of the day. Ancient Panjakent, the ruins of the original city sit just south of town and are worth taking a stroll out to explore for yourself.
Located next to the Uzbek border, just a short trip from the city of Panjakent lies the ruins of the ancient city of Sarezm. The ruins were discovered here and were determined to be an estimated 5,000-6,000 years old. There is also a museum featuring several of the artifacts that have been excavated here at Saezm just behind the ruins.
Mazar i Sharif
Not to be confused with the Mazar i Sharif quite far south of here in Afghanistan, this one is an easy day trip from the city of Panjakent. The village hosts the Mausoleum to Mohammad Bashoro, an 8th-century Islamic scholar who is believed to be buried here.
Mastchoi Kohistan (Upper Zeravshan)
Countless treks into the wild Tajik mountains are possible from the Upper Zeravshan Valley, leading to spectacular mountain scenery, high altitude deserts, and a gnarl of some of the nation’s largest glaciers. Tiny villages dot the valley as you continue to wind your way to the upper reaches of the valley.
If you don’t have the time to dedicate to traveling all the way up Zeravshan Valley, an overnight trip to Veshab, largely considered the first village of the Upper Zeravshan is a great way to get a feel for the remoteness of what lies beyond. Here you’ll find kind locals living in a beautiful stepped village and a Mausoleum to the famous poet Shams i Tabrizi.
Tajikistan’s most famous poet is undoubtedly Abu Abdullo Rudaki was born and died in the small village of Panjrud, located just south of Panjakent along the route toward the Artuch Alplager where many begin their trek into the Fann Mountains from. An unassuming Mausoleum dedicated to Rudaki was constructed here in 1958 in the shade of a 400-year-old mulberry tree.
Zeravshan Valley Expeditions