Kalai Khum (Qal’ai Khumb, Qal’a-i-Khum, Kalai Khumb) is a small village on the river Panj and one of the first settlements on the route to Pamir Highway after Dushanbe. The unusual name of this village is translated from Persian as “Fortress on the Khumb” according to the river Obikhumboi flowing into river Panj here. Kalai-Khumb is an administrative center of the Darvaz district in Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region.
The history of Kalai-Khum began in the 15th century when the first fortress was built there. First it was an outpost at the border of Pamir, protecting the eastern side of the Temurids Empire. Later, Kalai-Khumb became the capital of the independent Darvaz Khanate that existed until the end of the 19th century. It was a part of the Bukhara Khanate for some time and during the Soviet rule it turned into a regional center of the Gorno-Badakhshan region as a part of the Tajik SSR. The last significant event in the history of Kalai-Khumb was the Afghan War during 1979-1989, when some of the troops crossing to Afghanistan entered the country from here.
Kalai-Khum is located at the border with Afghanistan and it is home for one of the three bridges across river Panj between the countries. There used to be Sunday market near this bridge, where merchants arrived from Afghanistan. Today Kalai-Khumb is a quiet cozy town with population of 1600 people.
Located on the height of 1200 m above sea level, Kalai-Khumb has a mild climate for such severe region as Pamir. Thus, travelers driving to Pamir Highway from Dushanbe usually make their first stop there, between Kulob and Khorog.
Kalai Khum Sights
There are not that many sights in Kalai Khum but the Panj river gushing is beautiful and having the glimpse of life in Afghanistan over the river is intriguing. Kalai Khum is also not far from the famous Karon palace (Karon Qala) that was only re-discovered in 2012 in the nearby village of Ruzvat, east from this town.
Yoged village, about 30 km west from here, has few shrines to check.
Destinations and sights near Kalai Khum
Page updated 3.1.2024