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Nurata

One of the most interesting places for travelers in Uzbekistan is the Nurata-Aydarkul tourist region. For many tourists, this segment of the tour in Uzbekistan seems to be the most impressive. This effect is achieved due to the great diversity of the natural landscape, historical buildings, and a real lake in the middle of the desert. The nearest settlement is a few kilometers away.

Nurata is a small town in the Navoi region. Like other cities of Uzbekistan, it was founded several thousand years ago that researchers still puzzle over the origin of its name. Someone believes that once there was a village of the same name founded by the Sunni Persians, others claim that the name came from the Nur fortress, which was laid by Alexander the Great here. There is an opinion that higher forces are involved in the foundation of the city – Nur-Ota can be translated as “the Light of the Father.” No one knows for sure. The city is silent and may one day reveal the secrets of its origin to curious travelers.

The historical center of Nurata includes several places to visit. For example, the Juma mosque, which features 40 columns at the base. It is completely unusual for classical Uzbek architecture. These columns support a huge dome, one of the largest domes found in mosques. Next to the Juma mosque, one of the Islamic prophets Nur-Ota is buried. This place had a huge impact on the spreading of Islam in this region. This tomb made Nurata be one of the key pilgrimage sites. However, not only this place attracts pilgrims to this city. 

Near the Juma mosque, a source of healing water is located. This water, according to the legend, has miraculous properties: it cures ailments, helps in work, and gives strength. With the appearance of the source, local residents have a legend that thousands of years ago, travelers wandered through the desert, languishing from hunger and thirst. One night, losing their minds from fatigue, they prayed for help. Their prayers were heard, a meteorite fell from the sky and illuminated the sky with fire. Travelers considered this as a sign. When they arrived, a source of water sent from heaven hit the crater site. Despite the fact that it is only a legend, water really has beneficial properties and is rich in minerals. A fish of the trout family also lives there, however it is strictly forbidden to catch it since it also has its own sacred meaning.

It is worth visiting the mosque Namazgoh. Its age is about 11 centuries, but the most amazing thing about this mosque is that 25 domes crown its roof, which is extremely rare in religious buildings. In addition, the ruins of fortress walls and structures have survived to this day in Nurata. They have never been restored. These walls witnessed many wars and served many great rulers.

But the journey does not end in the city itself. The fact is that near the city, Sarmyshsai Gorge is accessible for tourists – an open-air museum of cave paintings. About 3,500 petroglyphs in this area present a variety of themes: animal drawings, the life of primitive people, images of religious significance. The earliest of them date from the Bronze Age. For many years, people who lived here long before the appearance of civilization considered this place to be sacred. Why they thought so remains a mystery, but among tourists who are fond of mysticism, the Sarmyshsai Gorge and the Nurata Mountains are the places of great interest.

Petroglyphs are not the only attraction of the Nurata Mountains, at their foot, in the arid plain, there is a lake called Aydarkul. Framed by mountains on one side and an arid steppe on the other, the lake is called the “Heart of the Desert”. A turquoise expanse of water stretches out to the horizon, and there are no settlements of people around for tens of kilometers, only a yurt camp for tourists. Travelers feel an amazing unity with nature here.  It is possible to ride camels, watch fishing, and see waterfowls such as dives, swans, and herons.

All that was described above is far from those that a traveler can see in this region. There is the famous Suzanne, the existing system of ancient underground canals, the picturesque mountains of Aktau, Nuratau and Karatau, the gate of Tamerlane, and much more.