We awoke to a nice sunny day ready for a 3 hour drive to Shakrisabz – Timur’s summer palace. We sped past fields of poppies – they really were everywhere, beautiful row upon row of poppies.
Around half way there we turned into a small country road and pulled up on a grass verge. Surrounded by fields and small farmhouses it was idyllic. The sun was beating down and a very smiley Uzbek man met us and ushered up a steep path to his house at the top.
We passed some rather moody cows and a yurt and entered a courtyard.
We entered the weaving room to see 4 girls weaving rugs and a lady spinning yarn. They were so quick with their finger work to weave these beautiful rugs it was truly impressive. I rather enjoyed watching one of the ladies balance on a stack of cushions on a plastic chair to reach the top of the weave!
Once we had looked around and eyed up the wares on offer we indulged in some (more) green tea and some freshly based Non straight from the tandoor oven. It was a wonderful location to have a snack and was so peaceful.
Then a toy doll strapped to a cot was brought out for us to look at. Our guide then went onto explain that this is a system used to train children to use the toilet. They get strapped down for a few hours and an external “catheter” i.e. a wooden tube is attached to the child and pointed into a hole in the floor of the cot. The child then uses this to go to the toilet. It was rather odd but is still a very common thing to do in Uzbekistan.
I can’t say we would consider using this method!!!
We eventually reached Shakrisabz and it didn’t disappoint. The whole area is going through some major renovations and was a bit of a building site. The outer walls of the palace had partly been restored on one side of the road and were left in their original state on the other providing a good contrast.
We approached the epic entrance hall to Tamerlane’s summer palace the Ak-Sai Palace – the only remaining section of the huge palace. A UNESCO heritage site minimal restoration has actually happened to the two columns themselves. The blue tiles were shinning in the sunshine and were an amazing contrast against the plan mud bricks which surrounded them.
We walked through the gateway and into the grounds where there were hundreds of people working on planting trees and plants. There were many empty fountain pools which will make the site look very interesting once complete. The whole complex is very large but perhaps a little too preened.
There is a huge statue of Amir Timur in the centre which we all happily posed in front of!
We then visited the Dorus Siadad Complex which consisted of the Khazreti Iman Mosque – which the men took a peek inside and nearly caused an international incident for standing too close to the carpet with shoes on. Then came Tamerlane’s crypt – the site he had built himself to be buried. A very unassuming crypt which was left hidden for many many years.
Timur or Tamerlane wanted to be buried in the same style as Genghis Khan – unknown and mysterious. His family had other ideas and he was buried in a family crypt in Samarkand, the complete opposite of what he had wanted.
We then visited the Dorut Tivolat Complex, Kok Gumbaz Mosque and the Gumbazi Sayyidon Mausoleum before heading for lunch and then the drive back to Samarkand.
On arriving in Samarkand we made a quick stop at the Gur Emir Crypt to see Timur’s actual resting place. The mausoleum was ornately decorated and has been almost completely restored – some sections had been left blank and we figured this was probably due to them running out of money.
We met some more lovely Fergana Valley ladies on our way out who we posed with for some more photo’s!
More of Samarkand to follow before moving on to Bukhara!
More from Uzbekistan
What else have we been up to