Internal Affairs / Tourism

Uzbekistan: Land of a thousand shrines

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17-09-2018, 15:25

Tashkent-Uzbekistan has aspirations to become a second Mecca, a destination for pilgrims from all over the world. Central Asia's most populous country boasts a wealth of well-preserved mosques and shrines in famous silk road cities like Samarkand and Bukhara.

Uzbekistan: Land of a thousand shrines

For millions of Uzbeks these are sacred places. But for the Uzbek government they also represent an opportunity to boost tourism as the country opens up after decades of isolationist, authoritarian rule. Samarkand is home to dozens of magnificent tombs. Notable figures like the emperor Tamerlane, the astronomer Ulughbek and Kusam Ibn Abbas, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, who brought Islam to this land in the 7th Century, are all buried here.

But there is one grave that is unlike any other. Every morning hundreds of people climb a hilltop on the outskirts of the city to visit an oddly shaped, elongated tomb, surrounded by pistachio and apricot trees among the ruins of the old city.

The air is filled with birdsong and the murmur of prayers. Families share lunch on the benches and young couples take selfies nearby.

But among the pilgrims are not just Muslims, because this tomb is believed to be the last resting place of the biblical prophet Daniel, or Daniyar as Uzbeks call him.

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