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Around the mausoleum complex

Standing in front of the mausoleum complex, close to the southern corner of the building, is a heavily restored brick structure, square in plan. This is the mausoleum of the Kazakh leader Esim Khan. Beyond this, near the ticket office, is the Mausoleum of Rabi'i Sultan Begum, which dates from the late 15th century. This is a brick mausoleum with a tiled turquoise dome atop a round drum with tiles forming Arabic inscriptions and bearing geometric designs. Rabi'i Sultan Begum was the daughter of the Timurid ruler and scholar Ulugbek, and the fourth wife of the Uzbek leader Abulkhair Khan (not to be confused with the 18th-century Kazakh leader of the Junior Zhuz of the same name).

A stepped path leads to an area of higher ground to the south of the mausoleum. There are a couple of brick-walled buildings here. One of these is the Friday Mosque, built in 1878. The interior contains a few 19th-century religious items in glass display cases and a fine wooden minbar. The guides will tell you that an elegant carved wooden column in the corner of the mosque and the well in the courtyard outside both date from Yassaui's time. Next to this is a low-slung modern-looking brick building with a green cupola, which contains the Hilvet Underground Mosque, its oldest part dating from the 12th century. Descend two flights of steps to a large hall, its wooden roof supported by a forest of wooden columns. The place is lit from windows lying close to the roof. There is a somewhat disparate collection of items on display, including books about Yassaui, a mannequin dressed as a dervish, and the worn green 14th-century coverlet of Yassaui's tomb. The place is still a functioning mosque, with prayers taking place on the mats in the centre of the room while tourists gaze at the exhibits around the walls. In the corner of a windowless square brick side room is what appears to be a well. It is actually the entrance to the tiny chamber below where Yassaui is said to have spent the final years of his life in solitude, following his attainment of the age of 63.

A path from this low hill runs down towards the well-kept rose garden in front of the mausoleum complex. On the way you pass a heavily restored brick bath house, with five low domes, dating from the second half of the 16th century, and in use until 1975. The central chamber of this is octagonal in plan, standing beneath a brick dome. There is a tiled octagonal platform in the centre of the room, and niches around the walls for ablutions. Several rooms run off the central chamber (a massage room, a cold water room, a hot water room), each supporting a brick dome. Various metal items, mainly jugs, buckets and bowls for splashing water about, are on display.

A few hundred metres to the south is another low hill, Kultobe, at which excavations have recovered items from the early medieval period. Camels graze in this area, allowing travellers in search of cliche the chance to take a photograph of them against the backdrop of the Yassaui Mausoleum.