The town of Khorugh - the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, with a population of about 30,000 - is situated on high narrow terraces 2,060m above sea level near the confluence of the Ghunt and Shohdara rivers on the border with Afghanistan. The river valley here is narrow, so the town is actually two large streets lined with poplars. In 1895, when the state border between the Russian Empire and Afghanistan was finally decided, a Russian boundary fortification of three houses and a barrack emerged in the small mountain village of Khorugh. A road from Osh to Khorugh was built, but it was only possible to go on horseback to deliver goods from camel caravans. There were TO more to. SO households here in the early 20th century. The Russian authorities opened a school and a clinic for the local population. These features made Khorugh stand out from the other villages of Shughnon (the name of the Ghunt and Shohdara river basin area).
The first car to arive in the Pamirs
From the mid-1920s, when Khorugh was made the administrative centre of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, it began to grow and develop. The first apartment buMings were buuilt in A 926. in A 929, the first plane arrived in Khorugh. The first car arrived two years later. The construction of the Khorugh hydropower station, the first in the Pamirs, began in 1934.
Nowadays Khorugh is the scientific, cultural, educational and economic centre of the oblast. The city hosts the Humanities Institute, the Pamiri Biological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Khorugh State University, a vocational school, a medical college, and a Music & Drama Theatre, as well as a hospital with modem medical equipment. The University of Central Asia is now being built.
Opposite the stadium in the town centre, the Museum of History and Regional Studies displays materials on the ancient and modern history of Pamirs, its natura resources, and scientific and cultural achievements.
About 2km from the town centre on the right ban of the Shohdara River (a tributary of the Ghunt River) an the well-known Pamiri Botanical Gardens - one of th most mountainous in the world (more on p. 110).
The Pir Shohnosir Chashma hoVy spring, srtuate 12km north of Khorugh in the scenic area of Midenshc was so named in commemoration Nosir Khusrav's sti in the Pamirs. Khusrav was a celebrated scholar, theo< gian, and poet of the East. In addition to his monume being located here, a small museum named after M has been opened and a hotel is being built. Nine kilometers northeast of Khorugh, above E gev village, it is possible to see the ruins of the ancient fortress Kafir Qal'a (Fortress of the Faithless). Below I can be seen the remains of two temples of fire - round buildings with sufa (raised seats), a dais for the priest and a fireplace in the centre. In Vozm village in Porshnev, 15km north of Khorugh, there is a semi-precious stone- and gem-processing factory. Here, one can buy goods and souvenirs made out of famous Pamiri gems - precious spinel, lapis lazuli, amethyst, ama-zonstone, and others. Khorugh is approximately halfway between Dushanbe and Osh, Kyrgyzstan or Kashgar, China along the Pamir Highway (M-41). Khorugh is 525km from the capital of Tajikistan, 825km from Osh, and 615km from Kashgar. In May 2004, the Khorugh-Murghob-Kulma Pass highway (the border of Tajikistan and China) was opened, extending the Karakoram Highway. Driving south from here, you can reach the nearest Chinese town of Tashqur-gan, populated mainly by Tajiks. Kashgar is on the northern route. Recently, a new bridge over the Panj River was opened in Khorugh, connecting Tajikistan with Afghanistan (Badakhshan Province). At the same time, the Consulate of Afghanistan began functioning on left bank of Khorugh in Shosh district.
There are regular flights between Dushanbe and Khorugh. Yakovlev-40, Antonov-26 and Antonov-28 planes, and Mikoyan-8 helicopters are used for these flights. This air route is one of the most technically difficult and, at the same time, the most scenic and impressive in the world.
Khorugh. Ghunt River