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.
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.
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.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Vrang Buddhist stupa (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Vrang Buddhist stupa.
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