Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder, Colorado

Photos for No Apparent Reason (PFNAR) 2016

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I’ve learned not to be too surprised about things that Boulder, Colorado, has to offer. After all, it was/is a major hippie mecca and university town. But this raised one of my eyebrows: the Dushanbe Teahouse.

Dushanbe is the capital city of Tajikistan, and it’s one of Boulder’s seven (seven!) sister cities. The others, for the record, are Jalapa, Nicaragua; Kisumu, Kenya; Lhasa, Tibet; Mante, Mexico; Yamagata, Japan and Yateras, Cuba. I know they have a municipal plaza dedicated to all seven. But this blog is only about Dushanbe.

Dushanbe means “Monday” in the language spoken there. So, we have the Monday Teahouse, which was promised to Boulder in 1987 when Tajikstan was still the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic. The city’s mayor, who was visiting Boulder at the time, made good on his promise to gift a traditional Tajik teahouse to Boulder.

In my excitement about visiting the inside of this place, I neglected to get a good, overall exterior shot. Thus, the above photo is by Laura Annan, my companion that day. Thanks, Laura!

Here are some of my exterior shot details:

Ceramic panels:

Even the eaves have marvelously intricate designs:

And the rose garden bench is super-ornate:

From 1987-1990, over 40 skilled artisans from several cities worked to create the hand-carved and hand-painted tables, stools, ceiling panels and columns, plus the ceramic panels above. The entire assembled teahouse was then dismantled and shipped to Boulder in about 200 crates.

I’ll leave the local politics out of this story, but the teahouse wasn’t assembled and opened until 1998. Of course, there is much more to the story, and if you want to learn all of that, check out the teahouse website or other online sources.

The exterior is very calming and peaceful – I can’t wait to see it during the growing season when the vinery and roses are in full glory.

But the inside is where it’s at! Just look!

Here’s a detail of the carved plaster around the giant painting in the above photo:

Note the lushly planted fountain on the left in the photo below. It’s actually positioned in the center of the dining area and it has several water-nymph-like statues around it:

There is a nice exhibit near the door in glass display cases. This is a velvet ceremonial robe, which was presented by the Tajiks to a local doctor for his “commitment to the advancement of medicine in Dushanbe”, and which his widow donated to the teahouse. It is an item commonly presented to Tajik men on their 70th birthday.

But the best part are the ceiling panels! Each is completely different with intricately painted and carved patterns. I got kinda dizzy taking so many pictures of them overhead!

Laura and I had lunch there, although we had to wait an interminable amount of time to be seated. There was an event there which had reserved half the dining room, plus I didn’t know we should have made reservations. And we were caught in the transition between lunch and afternoon tea, so I think we didn’t get their best that day. I would be willing to give them another chance, this time with reservations and a proper dining hour. The staff were very cordial and apologetic that we had to wait, but the end result wasn’t that stellar, unfortunately

I did like the egg-timer that came with the tea so you could time your own teapot:

The teahouse is situated next to a stream, which is traditional for teahouses in Tajikistan, so I’ve learned. It’s open daily from 8a to 9p, with breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and brunch at selected times. You can check that out, along with their menu, on their website, too.

They also have special parties, such as the upcoming Navruz, or Persian New Year (Spring Equinox), focused mainly on the plaza (giant patio) next to the teahouse. I’ll keep an eye on this one!

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