Nurata: the small town with holy spring
Situated in the foothills of Nuratau Mountain ranges, this wonderful town is famous for a holy spring named Chashma. The local people say that Nurata has been founded on the site of ancient fortress Nur, built by Alexander the Great in IV century BC. While the scientific excavations prove that the cultural layer of this place is about forty thousand years.
Appearing the spring is also mixed with legends: it is said that million years ago a fire fell from the sky and in the exact place where the rock hit the spring came out, whose name means “Ray-Father”.
Around the spring today a beautiful religious complex has been formed including Juma Mosque (Friday mosque), qubba, bathhouse, hill (the remnant of the ancient fortress) and the holy spring over which sometimes extraordinary beams appear.
Interestingly, the temperature of the water coming out from the well is always 19.5 Celsius, moreover it contains 15 microelements, such as gold, silver, bromide, iodine and etc. In the holy spring hallowed fish live, and people do not eat them as they believe that they are sacred.
Nurata lies in a peaceful site, far from hustle and bustle of noisy cities. There numerous of people visit to feel the tranquil ambience of life. This small city is home for twenty-five thousand inhabitants, who produce a vivid impression of hospitality, sincerity and kindness in the heart of every visitor.
Lake Aydarkul, Uzbekistan
Nature is capable of creating anything, even a miraculous lake in the middle of desert. It is the second largest salty lake after Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and it provides one thirds of whole fish supply of the country.
Originally, Aydarkul is considered an artificial lake formed after Chordarya Reservoir had exceeded and discharged water flew into the hollow site of Arnasoy in 1969.
The surface is almost 4000 sq. meters, it lasts 250 km long and the width – from 8 to 15 km. Here hundreds of rare species of flora and fauna inhabitat, thus it is considered a proper choice for nature-lovers. It is worthy to note about the colorful types of birds, many of which are registered in the Red Books of several countries. They say these birds came from Karakalpagistan after the Aral has been drying.
One more peculiarity of this natural site is that it suits best for horseback and camelback as well as fishing enthusiasts. Here can be found astonishingly big and delicious fish. You can walk, fish, swim, get a tan or just watch the environment and recharge your batteries!
Sentyab Village near Nurata
In the bosom of picturesque Nurata Mountain ranges a wonderful village like in fairy tales is located. It is called Sentab, which is 30 km from Aydarkul Lake. This village is considered one of the sights eco-tourists stop during their journey.
Sentab Village can impress you with its virginal conditions, such as clean and pure water, pristine air, fresh breezes, pleasant twitters of birds, aromas of flowers and welcoming smiles of the locals. Here every visitor may seem to live in absolutely another world as long as they get acquainted with inhabitants’ daily lifestyle.
Each family has their own livestock and poultry, as well as some land to grow crops to provide the household with daily products. They build the houses of stones, rocks, or clay, cook meals in the open-air “o’choq”, and bake breads in clay ovens called “tandir”.
The conventional transport is donkeys, sometimes horses. Although it looks an ordinary village here you will have a chance to visit the ruins of an ancient well-constructed town. Around Sentab village other eco-touristic village-sites are located: Uhum, Asraf, Eski- Forish, Upper-Uhum, Hayat…
Nuratau Mountains, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan, as having high touristic potential, may offer colorful activities suitable for each visitor including eco-tours to splendid and picturesque mountain ranges which will remain for the rest of their life as a brilliant memory. One of these mountains is called Nurata, lying on between Kyzylkum Desert on the west, and Barren Steppe on the east, consisting of three main ranges, such as Karatau, Aktau and Nuratau. The highest peak – Khayatbakhshi is about 2169 m.
Even the natural sights of Uzbekistan may open fascinating secrets of history, may talk about old days. To prove this we may state the Gate of Temur, which is situated on the Sangzar River. This small gorge is 120-130 meters wide, in some places narrows to 40 m. In honor of great ruler it is named Amir Temur’s Gate. On the right rock of the gorge there are inscriptions in Persian, written by Ulugbek and Abdullakhan as they went through this gorge.
On the western side you can be just impressed by the petroglyphs of Sarmish-Say which is of great interest and mystery for not only tourists, but also historians and other scientists.
The local lifestyle is also very amazing, people still preserve ancient traditions on a daily basis; they organize wonderful festivals, national Kup-Kari games.
Sarmish-say Gorge, Uzbekistan
Sarmish-say Petroglyphs – the Bronze Age Art Gallery
Nurata, precisely, Karatau is famous for the biggest mural gallery all over the world – the Sarmish-say Gorge. Including twenty sq. km Sarmish Gorge represents nearly ten thousand petroglyphs drawn in various periods. These artistic monuments refer to the Stone, the Bronze, Early Iron and Middle Ages. Around the rock petroglyphs there are burials and sacred places.
According to some archeologists Sarmysh-say sight is as old as the Paleolithic Era (300-15 thousand years BC), in that period people inhabited in that territory. During the Neolithic Period Kaltaminor culture appeared here. They say it was also the place of religious ceremonies.
The most ancient mural carvings belong to VII-II millennium BC (Stone and Bronze Ages), which are approximately from 30-40 cm to 70-80 cm in size. Looking at the pictures by ancient ancestors one may presume that they were created by one “artist”, because the techniques used in painting are similar to each other. The picture of uruses were painted in this era; images of goats, deer refer to early Iron Age; domestic animals, such as camels, dogs, goats in some places related to the Middle Ages. They differ from one another according to the plot as well.
Despite the simplicity of the petroglyphs we may assume the lifestyle of the ancient people, their work, the instruments they used and etc. they are so priceless to investigate the unwrapped pages of history.
The Chashma Complex, Nurata
Chashma – complex of religious buildings of Nurata
It is impossible to imagine the magnificence of Nurata apart from Chashma Complex which has been created around the holy spring. Among the locals there are numerous and amazing legends relating with appearing this Chashma (spring), one of which says that in old days from sky light-beams fall onto earth and on that place it drops a hallowed spring with healing water comes out.
Historically, people inhabited around the spring many centuries ago, and today a great architectural ensemble has been formed here, including Juma Mosque, Panjvakta Mosque, Mazaar (graveyard) and bath-house.
The both mosques were erected in XVI century, whose interiors show off wood engraving ornaments by the masters of that time.
The bath-house was built decorated in oriental style in early XX century by Bukhara masters, presumably it was constructed on the former site of an old one.
According to the information given in the book “History of Bukhara” by Narshahi, the graveyard used to be of great significance, here were buried some followers of Muhammad Prophet. That’s why the mazar is visited by Muslims all over the world.
Near the spring the ruins of ancient fortress Nur is located, which was erected by Alexander the Great in IV century. The fortress was built on the hill and surrounded by water vallum. In case of war or invasion the city could have water without any difficulties.
People say that the water in the spring has a healing quality to remove any disease from human body. Anyway, the main motive is the belief in its holy properties.
Nuratau Natural Reserve
In the middle of the mountains there is Nurata Natural Reserve, which was founded in 1975 to protect Ovis Ammon Severtzovi sheep and a rare sort of walnut which were becoming extinct. It is considered a natural habitat of up to 160 species of birds, the flora includes 630 types of plants of unique origin and many of them grow only here.
In the territory of the reserve a number of mountain streams flow, and near Madjerum – the largest stream a-thousand-year tree – Biota Orientalis grows. The local people say that it was planted by Alexander the Great over the burial of his commander. Interestingly, people believe that the tree has a miraculous feature to grant wishes.
Besides, here is a mosque, built a century ago, and the ruins of fortress Madjerum-Kala. Archeological findings showed that the houseware refers to III-IV centuries.