Shakhrisabz - Home of Tamerlane
Trip Start May 14, 2009
34Trip End Jun 15, 2009
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Where I stayed
Hotel President Palace, Samarkand
Today Shakhrisabz has a population of 75,000 and is home to some of the most awesome ancient ruins of some of the great Tamerlane's most ambitious architectural projects.
The ninety kilometer trip from Samarkand to Shakhrisabz was very pleasant
The road climbed up further into mountainous country over the 1,788 m Takhtakaracha Pass with wonderful views of the Shakhrisabz valley and interspersed with fabulous rocky granite outcrops. The Fan Mountains forming a border with Tajikistan were visible in the distance. With such a pleasant drive we started to feel well again.
The township of Shakhrisabz in its valley location was unbelievably hot. It was one of the most interesting visits we had. On entering the township we were immediately confronted by a huge bronze statue of Tamerlame and behind the extraordinary ruins of Ak-Saray, Tamerlame's summer palace. It seems that everything Tamerlame did was big. The crumbling ruins reveal the remains of a colossal building that began to be built in 1380 and using local white marble took some 24 years to complete
Devastatingly, the building was destroyed by a Bukhara Emir. It was a shocking piece of history to us. How could it take two years to destroy a building that took 24 to build? It seems like humans just never learn from history.
Our visit to Shakhrisabz also took us to the Tomb of Tamerlame’s eldest and favourite son Jehangir who died aged just 22 years. It is also the tomb of another son, Umar Sheikh. The Lonely Planet describes the tomb as melancholy and it certainly was. We also explored the crypt that was built for Tamerlame but was not to be his final resting place. Tamerlame contracted pneumonia and died unexpectedly in Kazakhstan in the winter of 1405. The passes to Shakhrisabz were snowed in and so he was buried in Samarkand.
In the afternoon we roamed around the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque. The architecture was beautiful and we were intrigued by the 1,000 year old plane tree. What a piece of history this tree must have seen.
Shakhrisabz was truly a special place, free of tourists and with wonderful atmosphere. We were sorry that we did not have more time to roam around the ruins on our own.