The giant Lenin statue is gone and the crumbling, dimly lit Hotel Leninabad has embraced capitalism. They open after dark – serving drinks and beats to locals until dawn.
The most attractive vision of the past is this colorful pediment containing both Stalin and Lenin on the side of Khujand’s Panjshande Bazaar. This facade is probably seen as too beautiful to destroy.
Fresh Naan in some shape or form can be found in just about every village and city here in Central Asia, as well as most areas along the former Silk Road. The loaves sold here in Khujand’s Panjshanbe Bazaar are one of the best tasting ones in this region.
The Panjshanbe Bazaar is more of a reflection of Leninabad times than of the Silk Road Era long before it. There is an overwhelming selection of dried fruits, nuts, candies in the main building. It’s the first stop for anyone looking for electronics, socks, cosmetics or just a bag of kurut or dried yogurt balls.
Across from the Panjshanbe Bazaar lies the Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddi who was known to be a holy miracle worker in ancient times. Mongol invaders destroyed the city as well as the mausoleum in the early 13th century. The mosque and madrassah are slowly being reconstructed now that the Soviets are gone as well.
As worshipers complete their afternoon prayers in the courtyard, a mother entertains her child by feeding the birds.
Russia rolled into this region in the late 1800’s, embraced it with Soviet style reforms and began calling it Leninabad in 1939. Much of the city’s Soviet period architecture is a fading reminder of the last economic boom this city experienced.
Panjshanbe or “Thursday” Bazaar is where one can get a pair of socks, a loaf of fresh Naan, a boot leg music CD or a 20 kilo bag of potatoes. It’s current Soviet decor reflects on how the city remains to be stuck in time. The faux-vaulting wallpaper lining the entrance’s vaulted ceiling is fading and pealing, and the featureless statues greeting patrons have had 20 too many coats of silver spray paint.