Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Uzbekistan | Bukhara Oasis | Khwajagan | #5 Samasi

I spent most of the morning tramping around the ruins of Varakhsha, the ancient city on the western edge of the Bukhara Oasis which once served as the seat of the kings of the region. Leaden skies loomed overhead and gusting winds swept snow flurries through the ruined walls and battlements. In the first millennium the city was well within the boundaries of the Bukhara Oasis; now it is on the very edge, with desert stretching off the west. 
Ruins of Varakhsha (click on photos for enlargements)
Shortly after noon we left for the mausoleum of Muhammad Baba as-Samasi. My driver had been to the mausoleum before, but he had gone there directly from Bukhara. He was not quite sure how to get there from the ruins of Varakhsha. We drove north a few miles and found ourselves in the desert.  At a  crossroads we stopped to ask directions from a man passing by on a tractor.
Desert at the first crossroads
The wind had picked up, blowing fresh snow flurries almost vertically across the sand. Following the tractor driver’s directions we soon found ourselves amidst the barren and fallow fields on the cultivated edge of the oasis. We came to crossroads with no idea which way to go. We drove on a couple of miles before encountering a car coming the other way. The driver informed us we were going the wrong way. We had to go back to the crossroads and turn right. We followed the road to the right a couple of miles and came to another crossroad. The last man we talked to had not mentioned this crossroad. We turned right and drove four or five miles until we came to small house set back off the road. We stopped and the driver went to the door to ask for directions. We had taken a wrong turn at the last crossroads. We returned and turned right again. We must have gone through eight or nine crossroads before we finally found ourselves in the parking lot of Muhammad Baba as-Samasi mausoleum. It had taken us an hour and a half to get here, although I later discovered the mausoleum is only eight miles from Varakhsha. 
Western edge of Bukhara Oasis showing Varakhsha and the Mausoleum of Samasi 
My driver, who was wearing only a sports coat, and I hurried through what seemed like gale-force winds from the parking lot to the entrance portal. 
Portal of the Samasi Mausoleum . . . For more see Seven Saints of Bukhara: The Khwajagan, or Masters of Wisdom.

 (click on photo for enlargement)

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting about the wind. Also, what caused the desertification of the oasis?

    - a mes

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  2. There are also Places in Mongolia that seem unaffected by winds . . . I do not know the explanation for this phenomenon. The Bukhara Oasis is entirely dependent on the Zerafshan River for water. The Zerafshan begins in the Pamir Mountains. So the water supply is dependent on snowfall and perhaps glaciers in the Pamirs. This varies due to climate change. What causes climate change, apart from people burning fossil fuels and using aerosol deodorants? I do not know.

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