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Tajikistan: Khakha Fortress

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Khakha Fortress | Tajikistan | Asia

[Visited: June 2010]

At the beginning of our second day in the Pamirs, we left Iskashim right on the border with Afghanistan, and drove to the northeast, following the Pyanj river. Quite soon after leaving the pleasant town of Iskashim and passing the village of Namadguti, we stopped at the ruins of Khakha fortress. Originally built in the 3rd century BCE, this is one of the oldest fortresses in Wakhan valley. From the roadside that runs close to it, we could see old crumbling walls on a bed of jagged rocks. As with most other historical places in the Wakhan valley, there was no official entrance, and we just walked in. As we climbed the old complex, the contours of the fortress became clearer.

Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): Walls of Khakha fortress in the foreground, in Wakhan valley

We saw what could have easily been rounded watchtowers, the plans of rooms, windows, and obviously, the quite sturdy walls themselves. We walked to the western side of the fortress, which is the lower part of the surprisingly long fortress. From here, we had superb views of the western side of the Wakhan valley, the green fields below, Pyanj river cutting through the valley, and the villages on the opposite side of the valley: Afghanistan. According to an information in golden letters on a rock at the foot of Khakha fortress, the fortress was built in the 3rd century BCE by people dressed in black - followers of the Zoroastrian cult - to defend themselves against invaders.

Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): Hindu Kush mountains towering over Khakha fortress

We stayed for a while on the highest point on this side, and then walked back down - making sure we did not climb to the military border post on the higher point of the fortress. I would later hear stories of other visitors who did, and who got loaded weapons pointed in their face to extract money from the soldiers here. We did see them getting a little nervous about our visit, and just greeted them from a distance, and walked back to our Russian jeep that, fortunately, had the roof open. Khakha fortress proved to be a good introduction of the rest of the Wakhan valley it once defended.

Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): View of Khakha fortress from below
Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): Circular ruins in Khakha fortress
Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): Green valley seen from Khakha fortress
Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): Walls of Khakha fortress on top of the rocks
Picture of Khakha Fortress (Tajikistan): Khakha fortress with Wakhan valley in the background

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