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Tajikistan: Vrang Buddhist stupa

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Vrang Buddhist stupa | Tajikistan | Asia

[Visited: June 2010]

At the end of a day of driving through magnificent landscapes of the Wakhan valley on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, we reached the small village of Vrang. Even before our car stopped, we were surrounded by a bunch of kids who were all willing to show us the way up to the sight that puts Vrang on the tourist map. Even though the climb to the buddhist stupa is straightforward, the youngsters just lead anyway, and in order to get some peace, I stay behind in a cave. From here, I have a great view over the many hermit caves in a cliff just opposite, while further to the west, I can now see the great landscape of the Wakhan valley we had been driving through the entire day.

Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): The Wakhan valley and the Buddhist stupa of Vrang

A little further up from the cave, I find the stone platform which is considered to be a Buddhist stupa, built in the 4th century. Some locals even claim that on the top stone, you can see a footprint of Buddha himself. It is also claimed that this platform originally started as a Zoroastrian fire-worshipping site, which is not impossible considering the history of Zoroastrianism in this region. In any case, the platform now consists of three solid layers of stones, one on top of the other, on top of a rocky hill. Nearby, there are several more caves, probably used by Buddhist monks. There are also supposed to be hot springs, which explains why monks picked this place to build a stupa, although I did not see them myself.

Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): Stones forming the Buddhist stupa of Vrang

Apart from the religious importance of the site, it is a great point from which to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. From the stupa, you have an unobstructed view to all sides in the Wakhan valley. The contrast of the barren mountains, topped with snow, on the other side of the Pamir river, in Afghanistan, and the mountains on the Tajik side, framing the bright green vegetation on the valley floor, was impressive to see. While the boys were sitting on a ridge below, waiting for a tip for their help, I preferred to stay on the platform, to see the sunlight gradually soften the brilliance of the wild landscape below me.

Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): Trees and river in the Wakhan valley near Vrang
Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): View of the Buddhist stupa of Vrang
Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): Green valley and rugged mountains with snow seen from the Buddhist stupa of Vrang
Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): The Wakhan valley seen from the Buddhist stupa of Vrang
Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): The stone Buddhist stupa above the Pamir village of Vrang
Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): Looking over the Wakhan valley from a hermit cave above Vrang
Picture of Vrang Buddhist stupa (Tajikistan): Hermit caves in the mountains above Vrang

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