According to official figures, Kulob is just over 2,700 years old. However, it is unclear on what basis the Tajik authorities establish this age. The first reference to the city is found in the writings of the historian Ibn al-Athir, who describes the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. According to this account, Genghis Khan sent a unit of 1,000 soldiers from Samarkand to conquer Kulob.

Kulob was an important trading centre early on, connecting two strands of the Silk Road, which led north through Dushanbe and south through Balkh (Afghanistan). The city gained additional fame through the mausoleum for Sayyid Ali Hamadani, a famous Sufi mystic, who died on a pilgrimage near Kulob. As a result, the city itself became a place of pilgrimage.

For a long time, the city managed to assert itself largely independently between the powerful emirates of Bukhara and Afghanistan and the Kokand Khanate. After the Bukhara Emirate became a vassal of Tsarist Russia in 1868, the Tsar’s troops helped the Emirate expand eastwards, conquering Kulob among other places.

After the October Revolution of 1917, there were independence movements throughout Central Asia. As a result, the Red Army began to conquer the region. Kulob fell in March 1921; the last resistance in the mountains near the town ended in August 1922. The town became part of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic in 1929.


Kulob is situated at an altitude of about 580 metres above sea level, in the valley of the Jachsu River. According to current figures, about 106,000 people live in the town. Cotton, wheat, maize and various vegetables are grown near the town. Summer conditions are dry and hot, with an average of about 28 degrees in July, while winters are damp and cold, with an average of 2.2 degrees in January.


Kulob gained political importance after Tajik independence in 1991. During the Tajik civil war, gunmen from the region fought for President Emomali Rahmon, who is originally from Danghara, a town not far from Kulob. He had previously made a name for himself as a local politician in Kulob. Since taking power, his followers have occupied many key positions in politics and business, so that people talk about the “elite from Kulob”. However, the majority of the inhabitants have not been able to benefit from this, so that the region remains one of the poorest parts of Tajikistan.

Air connections: Kulob’s international airport offers connections to Moscow. There are no domestic flights.

Railway connections: Kulob has a railway station from which there are twice-weekly connections to Dushanbe via Bokhtar.

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