Pamir Mountains (Chinese:帕米尔高原; Urdu:سلسلہ کوہ پامیر; Tajik:Кӯҳҳои Помир; Persian:پامیر کوهستان; Uyghur:پامىر ئېگىزلىكى) are a
mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian
Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges.
They are among the world’s highest
and since Victorian times
they have been known as the
"Roof of the World
from "Pamir". They are also known by the Chinese name of
: Ts'ung-ling) or "Onion Range" (from
the wild onions growing in the region).
The precise extent of the Pamir Mountains is debatable.
mostly in Gorno-Badakhshan province, Tajikistan and Badakshan
Province, Afghanistan. To the north they join the Tian Shan
mountains along the Alay Valley of
Kyrgyzstan. To the south they join the Hindu Kush
mountains along the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To the east they may end on the Chinese
border or extend to the range that includes Kongur Tagh which is sometimes included in the Kunlun
highest mountains are Ismoil Somoni Peak (known from 1932–1962 as Stalin Peak, and from
1962–1998 as Communism Peak), ; Ibn Sina Peak (still unofficially known as Lenin Peak), ; and Peak Korzhenevskaya ( , Pik Korzhenevskoi), .
many glaciers in the Pamir Mountains,
including the long Fedchenko Glacier, the longest in the former USSR and the
longest glacier outside the Polar
Part of the Pamir Mountain range in
Covered in snow
throughout the year, the Pamirs
have long and bitterly cold winters
short, cool summers
. Annual precipitation
is about , which
but few trees
is mined in the west, though sheep
herding in upper meadowlands
primary source of income for the region.
- This section is based on the book by R. Middleton
and H. Thomas
The lapis lazuli
found in Egyptian
tombs is thought to come from the Pamir area. About 138 BC Zhang Qian reached the Fergana Valley northwest of the Pamirs. Ptolemy
vaguely describes a trade route though the
area. From about 600 AD, Buddhist pilgrims travelled on both sides
of the Pamirs to reach India from China. In 747 a Tang army was on
the Wakhan River. There are various Arab and Chinese reports.
may have travelled along the
. In 1602 Bento de Goes travelled from Kabul to Yarkand and left a meager report on the Pamirs.
Lieutenant John Wood reached
the headwaters of the Pamir
From about 1868 to 1880, a number of
Indians in the British service secretly explored the Panj area. In
1873 the British and Russians agreed to an Afghan frontier along
the Panj River
. From 1871 to around 1893
several Russian military-scientific expeditions mapped out most of
the Pamirs (Alexei Pavlovich
, Nikolai Severtzov
and others. Later came
Several local groups asked for Russian protection from Afghan
raiders. The Russians were followed by a number of
non-Russians including Ney Elias, George Littledale, the Earl of Dunmore,
Wilhelm Filchner and Lord Curzon who was probably the first to reach
the Wakhan source of the Oxus River.
In 1891 the Russians informed Francis Younghusband
that he was on
their territory and later escorted a Lieutenant Davidson out of the
area ('Pamir Incident'). In 1892 a battalion of Russians under
Mikhail Ionov entered the area and camped near the present Murghab
. In 1893 they built a proper fort there
). In 1895 their base was moved to Khorog facing the
the last blank areas around the Fedchenko Glacier were mapped out by a German-Soviet expedition under
Willi Rickmer Rickmers.
According to Middleton and Thomas, 'pamir' is also a geological
term. A pamir is a flat plateau or valley surrounded by mountains.
It forms when a glacier or ice field melts leaving a rocky plain. A
pamir lasts until erosion forms soil and cuts down normal valleys.
This type of terrain is found mostly in the east and south of
Gorno-Badakhshan as opposed to the valleys and gorges of the west.
Pamirs were used for summer pasture. Note that the cited sources
are all from the early twentieth century, so this usage may be out
Pamir is around Lake Zorkul.
Little Pamir is northeast of this to Aktash. The Taghdumbash Pamir
is between Tashkurgan and the Wakhan
Corridor along the
The Alichur Pamir is around Yashil Kul on
River. The Sarez Pamir is around the town of
Murghab. The Khargush Pamir is south of Lake Kara-Kul.
There are several others. The Pamir River is in the south.
In the early 1980s, a deposit of gemstone
was discovered in the Pamir
Mountains. It was the only such deposit known until the
discovery of gem-quality material in the Taymyr region of Siberia, in 2000.
Pamir Highway, the world's second
highest international road, runs from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Osh in Kyrgyzstan through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous
Province, and is the isolated region's main supply
The Great Silk Road
a number of Pamir Mountain ranges.
Ismoil Somoni Peak (then known as
) taken in 1989
Historically, the Pamir Mountains were
considered a strategic trade route between Kashgar and Kokand on the
Northern Silk Road and have been
subject to numerous territorial conquests. The Northern Silk
Road (about in length) connected the ancient Chinese capital of
Xian to the west over the Pamir Mountains to emerge in
Kashgar before linking to ancient Parthia.
Climbers near "Peak Communism" in 1978
In the 20th century, they have been
the setting for Tajikistan Civil
, border disputes between China and Soviet Union
establishment of US, Russian, and Indian military bases, and
renewed interest in trade development and resource
- Curzon, George
Nathaniel. 1896. The Pamirs and the Source of the
Oxus. Royal Geographical Society, London. Reprint: Elibron
Classics Series, Adamant Media Corporation. 2005. ISBN
1-4021-5983-8 (pbk; ISBN 1-4021-3090-2 (hbk).
- Gordon, T. E. 1876. The Roof of the World: Being the
Narrative of a Journey over the high plateau of Tibet to the
Russian Frontier and the Oxus sources on Pamir. Edinburgh.
Edmonston and Douglas. Reprint by Ch’eng Wen Publishing Company.
- Toynbee, Arnold J. 1961. Between Oxus and Jumna.
London. Oxford University Press.
- Wood, John, 1872. A Journey to the Source of the River
Oxus. With an essay on the Geography of the Valley of the Oxus
by Colonel Henry Yule. London: John Murray.
- Horsman, S. 2002. Peaks, Politics and Purges: the First
Ascent of Pik Stalin in Douglas, E. (ed.) Alpine Journal 2002
(Volume 107), The Alpine Club & Ernest Press, London, pp
- Leitner, G. W. 1890. Dardistan in 1866, 1886 and 1893:
Being an Account of the History, Religions, Customs, Legends,
Fables and Songs of Gilgit, Chilas, Kandia (Gabrial) Yasin,
Chitral, Hunza, Nagyr and other parts of the Hindukush. With a
supplement to the second edition of The Hunza and Nagyr Handbook.
And an Epitome of Part III of the author’s “The Languages and Races
of Dardistan”. First Reprint 1978. Manjusri Publishing House, New
- Strong, Anna Louise. 1930. The Road to the Grey Pamir.
Robert M. McBride & Co., New York.
- Slesser, Malcolm "Red Peak: A Personal Account of the
British-Soviet Expedition" Coward McCann 1964
- Tilman, H. W. "Two Mountains and a River" part of "The Severn
Mountain Travel Books". Diadem, London. 1983
- Waugh, Daniel C. 1999. "The ‘Mysterious and Terrible Karatash
Gorges’: Notes and Documents on the Explorations by Stein and
Skrine." The Geographical Journal, Vol. 165, No. 3. (Nov.,
1999), pp. 306-320.
- Photos of the Tajik Pamirs, with emphasis on Wakhan area
- The Pamirs. 1:500.000 - A tourist map of
Gorno-Badkshan-Tajikistan and background information on the
region. Verlag „Gecko-Maps“, Switzerland 2004 (ISBN
- Tourist office in Khorog (Tajikistan) Pamirs Tourism
- Photos of the life of ethnic Kyrgyz in Afghan's
- Photos and Online Guide to Trekking in the Wakhan and Afghan