Trans Eurasia travel

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Mausoleum of Hodja Yusup Hamadani

Leaving Gyaur Kala by the central gate in the western wall, take the road to the north, running along the Razik Canal between the walls of Gyaur Kala and Sultan Kala. You will then reach a group of mostly new brick buildings, with a large car park in front. This is the mosque and mausoleum complex of Hodja Yusup Hamadani, one of the most important places of shrine pilgrimage in Turkmenistan. Hodja Yusup was a Sufi scholar of the 12th century, whose teachings formed an important element in the development of Sufism in Central Asia. He studied theology in Baghdad, and later settled in Merv, where he enjoyed the patronage of Sultan Sanjar. He was buried in the city on his death in 1140.

The mosque here was one of the very few in Turkmenistan allowed to operate, albeit under tight control, during the Soviet period. The open-sided square mausoleum, towards the rear of the complex, is a modern reconstruction. A group of buildings along the west side of this, around a central iwan, were probably originally built in the Timurid period.

30 meters from the Mausoleum there is a mosque and a set of buildings used by Turkmen families coming here for pilgrimage. They use kitchen facilities to make animal sacrifices and prepare food in the name of God. They will happily share the food with you as the more people will eat it the more blessed is the sacrifice. The place is very picturesque, noisy and gives a good insight inlo local beliefs and customs.