Sarazm & Panjakent
Penjikent Travel Blog› entry 28 of 83 › view all entries
Sarazm, today a small village west of Panjakent, is the location of one of the oldest Zoroastrian civilizations in this area, dating back to the Bronze Age, or about the fourth millennium BC. Artifacts discovered here are renowned in the archeological world as some of the most spectacular and many are found in museums in Panjakent,
Khurshid and I enjoyed a delicious and filling breakfast of eggs, warm milk and plenty of bread and honey with the family before venturing off to see the ruins on a sunny but blustery day.
The ruins were scattered amongst five metal canopies specially constructed to preserve the delicate mud walls of the ancient city. Unfortunately the museum was closed to everyone but the cattle grazing on the grasses that grew around it, and all the artifacts were in other cities, but the story behind its discovery and the treasures that were found here made this a particularly pleasant diversion to my semi-planned itinerary.
We threw my backpack in the back of a tiny car, picked up a couple more passengers and headed into town. I wasn’t sure that the itinerary included me coming back or not, but as friendly as the family was, I was hoping to be closer to town and potentially meet other tourists or at least the English-speaking Niyozkul Nematov who ran a guesthouse from his home in downtown Panjakent, or Penjikent, depending on which language its translated from.
I had made the mistake of explaining to Khurshid what I needed to accomplish in Panjakent other than simply touristy stuff. For the better part of two hours, Khurshid, the taxi driver and I went from the airline ticket agent to two banks and a hotel before finally going to Mr.
Niyozkul was batching it with his brother, as his wife and daughter had gone to Urmatan village for a few days. We ate pirozhkis and crescent-dough-wrapped hot dogs and I picked his brain for suggestions on the best way to get to
We both had wanted to go to the bazaar, but a sign on the closed gate announced that today was the monthly cleaning day and the bazaar was closed. We sat down at the bus stop and talked while we waited for the marshrutka to come that would take me to the site, but when it did, not only was it packed like sardines, the driver informed Rinat that the route for the day had changed and they would not be going to the ruins, so with that I decided to go to the Rudaki museum and save the ruins for the next day. We walked back along the main street all the way to the newly-built museum, talking all the way. Rinat had to go to class, so he left me to the museum, where I had to remove my shoes and don a pair of handmade slippers that were quite comfy.
I ended up spending a lot more at the museum that I had imagined, but aside from the entrance fee, I somehow consented to pay for an Uzbek-speaking guide. However, I was able to understand her perfectly and her soothing voice was strangely pleasant, so I consider the minimal fee worth it. The museum was about half Penjikent history and half Rudaki, the famous Persian poet and national hero whose final resting place is Panjrud village, some