Denau (also known as Denov) is an administrative center of the Denau district. If you are in Denau there is a high possibility that you are heading to or arriving from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, as Denau is the nearest large city next to the Tajik border and Tursunzoda at the other side. Settled along the Sukhandarya river, along the ancient road to Dushanbe, Denau is today a small bustling town of about 61 000 inhabitants with the magnificent snow-dusted Hissar Mountains to the north and Chulbair Range to the west. Years ago, Denau was a stronghold of the Gissar/Hissar Khan but it was later named after Denau Beg, the Emir of Bukhara. The town is not known as a highlight of Central Asia but Denau and its surroundings still offer sights worth to check on the way. 

The valley around Denau has a subtropical climate, which has allowed it to grow a relatively successful wine-producing business. The valley’s climate makes it an ideal wine-growing area for producing the “Novbakhor” “Morastel” and “Uzbekistan” grape varieties, which are famous for their fine bouquet. Also Denau rum is produced with sugarcane from local plantations. Denau Bazar is also exceptionally large and lively.

What to Do in Denau

Denau Bazaar

Denau bazaar is the largest in the whole Surkhandarya region, merchants from nearby mountain villages and even from Tajikistan come here to trade. It is a colorful and dynamic bazaar, filled by cross-border trade with Tajikistan. Here one cal also find the Denau region ceramics and toys, which are famous for the Zukhurov masters. 

Sayyid Attalik Madrassah

Said Atalyk madrasah is found in the middle of the main Denau bazaar and is a historical and architectural monument from 16th-century. The madrassa was closed in 1935 but reopened after the independence from 1991 and then got closed again for renovation in 1997. Its scale and elegant symmetry are more than ample compensation for the lack of ornamentation.

Denau Arboretum

The Denau Arboretum is located almost at the center of the town and is named after R. Shreder and offers a stroll among more than 1000 different trees, flowers, herbs and other plants from the most varied cultures on earth including kauchuk, bamboo, sequoia, 200 kinds of persimmon and a multitude of extremely rare species. Most of the plants were donated by visiting dignitaries and scientists from all over the world.

Ancient Settlements near Denau

The area around Denau contains several attractive sites that are worth a visit. The Surkhan River valley around Denau/Chaganian was one of the central cradles of Kushan urbanization. 

Kulchayan Ancient City

The ancient city of Kalchayan is located about 10 km drive northeast of Denau. It was a Graeco-Bactrian city and one of the first ones that were settled in the area in the 4th century BC. The area was excavated in the mid 20th century by Soviet archaeologists. Huge quantities of Kushan-era sculptures with exact features like the hairstyles, dress, and ethnic features of Kalchayan’s ancient inhabitants described were found at the site. All of the best findings are presented in the Termez Archeological Museum as well as in the Fine Art Museum in Tashkent. The site is accessible by car.

Dalverzintepa Ancient Сity

The Dalverzin Tepe site is somewhat better preserved than Kalchayan and significant portions of the city wall are still clearly visible, as are the Buddhist temple and part of a Bactrian shrine. Dalverzintepa (also is written as Dalvarzin Tepa) is a mysterious area occupying about 47 hectares of the fertile valley of the Surkhandarya river. Dalverzintepa is located about 20 km south from Denau and 60 km north of the Termez in the Shurchin district between Denau and Shurchi. The settlement was once a significant defensive site on the Surkhan Valley branch of the Silk Route and one of the most glorious Kushan cities of the age and an early capital for the Tokharian (Yue Chi) Turkic tribes. The neighboring complex contained a Bactrian temple, various statues of the Buddha and bodhisattvas and remarkably, a treasure hoard of gold and silver items, many of them set with precious stones. The total treasure weighed 36 kg and the most important items are now exhibited at museums in Tashkent and Russia.

Today this ancient settlement displays the ruins of the once prosperous ancient city of Northern Bactria, the earliest settlement that arose here in the 2nd – 3rd centuries BC. Within the five sided city walls there are the remains of a Zoroastrian altar, Buddhist temple and a Bactrian shrine. Dalvarzin (d’al + varzin) from ancient Sogdian is translated as “scarlet, red hill”. According to the hypotheses of archaeologists, Dalverzintepa settlement was surrounded by a fortress wall, which was later destroyed by the Saxons in the 2nd century BC. It was restored already during the reign of the great Kushans (from the 1st century BC. to the 5th-6th centuries AD.)

Getting Around in Denau

Denau is perfectly connected with other cities in Uzbekistan. Most visitors from Tajikistan usually traveling by shared taxi or minibus along the picturesque road through the hills to Samarkand (5hrs), Bukhara (6hrs) or Termez (2hrs). There are regular public busses, minibus and shared taxis operated to the big cities. You can take transportation from the new bus station on Makhtumkuli, close to the bazaar. There are also daily buses to Baisun and Tashkent. However, at the present time for the Dushanbe bus run only to the border, from where onward buses can be caught inside Tajikistan. 

Sights and destinations near Denau

Page updated 30.12.2020

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