Tajikistan – Pamir Highway

Pamir highway is a road through Central Asia between Osh (Kyrgyzstan) and Dushanbe (the capital of Tajikistan) which lies mostly in Tajikistan, but the road with length of 1.252 kilometres is also going through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. Road also known as “The road from hell” is made through mountain Pamir which is part of Western Himalaya and has several peaks over 7.000 m. This highway is the second highest international highway in the world with the elevation of 4.655 m above the sea level. The route is made in some of the most remote and untouched areas of the world.
Some say that the road was used way back in history by ancient Silk for their caravans loaded with rubies which they extracted from the mountain around Rang Kul Lake. In 1915 decree of tsarist government made the pack road between Dushanbe and Khorog. This road was not suitable for motor vehicles, but only for packed animals and people. Finally, between 1931 and 1934 Soviet military engineers built the road to connect Central Asian parts of Soviet empire. The main reason for building this road is to facilitate troops, transport and provisions to parts of the Soviet empire that were far away and unreachable. The road, which was suitable for the motor vehicle to come through, was made by exploding granite walls and breaking through the rocks. Many bridges were built over the Pyanj side feeders. Since the left side od Pyanj is Afganisatanian territory, there was some difficulties constructing it only on the right side of the Pyanj river. After four years of hard work, the Soviets finally completed building the road that even now is the only Tajikistanis connection with Gorno Badakhshan, an autonomous province in the east of Tajikistan.

The Pamir Highway between Dushanbe and Khorugh
The Pamir Highway between Dushanbe and Khorugh
Image source: Wikipedia
Mainly unpaved and damaged with erosion, earthquakes, landslides, and avalanches, the road is dangerous place to travel on. There is no barrier between road and cliffs, so even a moment of deconcentration could lead to fatal consequences. Beside few paved parts, the road’s surface is of gravel and sand. Because of its inaccessibility, it is hard to keep the road clear of the snow, so it is usually closed in the winter time.
This road has been off limits to travellers until recently. Now it is one of the things that Tajikistan offers as tourists’ attraction. Not many people use it. Usually tourist can be seen there with their rented Jeeps and the Chinese with their trucks. The Chinese use this road to get them to Central Asia for trading. Due to that Chinese construction workers also can often been seen on Pamir highway doing repairs.
Useable or not, Pamir highway is one of the most incredible constructions achievement that people have made at that time and with tools they had.