A blog detailing the culture, history, geography and nature of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and neighbouring areas on the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Another Beautiful part of Central Asia on the Silk Road - Karategin Valley
Not directly related to Karakalpakstan except that it is also part of the great silk road. I lived and worked there for 9 months in 1999-2000 for MSF-H. The regional capital of Gharm where I was based is directly east of Dushanbe and lies one of the most beautiful and interesting valleys in Tajikistan.
The official name is the Rasht valley, but it is more often known as the Karategin (Karotegin)valley. The valley forms the upper reaches of the Surkh Ob River, flowing between the high peaks of the Pamirs to the east, and the Zeravshan range to the west. It is broader than those in Pamirs, and there is a great variety of scenery and vegetation. It is fertile especially along the river banks.
There are a number of picturesque towns and villages. The people are very hospitable and will give a genuine welcome to visitors who venture into this most beautiful part of Tajikistan.
Travellers will also have the pleasure of knowing they are follow along an important branch of the Silk Road, known as the Karategin route. In times past thousand of caravans would have passed this way making their journey from northern Persia on to Kashgar in China.
The route followed the river to its headwaters, and then over the Karamyk Pass to Kyrgyzstan. (ED: Note not always open for foreign nationals please check before setting out).
The Karotegin region is the home of the Garmi ethnic group. It frequently appears in its alternative spellings, Qaratagin, Qarategin, Qaratigin, Karategin, Karatigin and Karateghin.
It was an independent region in Central Asia for many centuries. The rulers of the valley who claimed to be descended from Alexander the Great and kept it independent until 1868, although their allegiance was claimed in an ineffective way by Kokand. The Emirate of Bukhara took advantage of internal political feuds and conquered the region, along with Darvaz, in 1877. It was incorporated into the Soviet Union as with all other parts of Central Asia after the October revolution.
The Karotegin consists of a highland district bounded on the north by Samarkand and Kokand, on the east by Ferghana, on the south by Darvaz and on the west by Hissar. Gharm the main centre of the valley is located on a hill on the right bank of the Vakhsh River and had a population of some 60,000. The population of the valley is over 250,000 people; some five-sixths of the population are Tajiks while the remainder are Kyrgyz, who mainly reside in Jirgatol district.