Trans Eurasia travel

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Off the beaten track

Just west of the Tash Hauli lies the renovated Uch Avlioli or Three Saints Mazaar, first built in 1549 and renovated in 1821. One dry summer in the 16th century three brothers faced agricultural ruin along with the rest of the poor farmers when a rich beg refused to open the canal sluices of his fields to irrigate the surrounding farmland. The brothers prayed for rain and when it came their crops were saved, the wicked beg's were flooded and the brothers graduated into bigger business: religious sainthood. The building opposite the tomb is a summer mosque.

During the 19th century madrassah would open and close according to the level of royal support and, as now, not all were open at any one time. Today's misused madrassahs include the Emir Tura Madrassah (1870), built for the brother of Mohammed Rakhim II, the Arab Mohammed Khan Madrassah (1616 rebuilt 1838), now the museum archives, the Musa Tura (Prince Moses) Madrassah (1841), named after the grandson of Alia Kuli Khan and the Dost Alimjan Madrassah (1882), now a woodcarving workshop.

The most enigmatic surviving evidence of a pre-khanate Khiva, the Khievak Well, lies sunk in a private courtyard in the northwest corner of the inner town (107 Abdullah- a-Baltal St). The well was the original desert source that attracted camel caravans and early settlers to the area and which gave its name, Khievak, to the early city.

Piled up against the inside of the southern city wall lies a confused tumble of graves and holy tombs attended by chanting pilgrims and prayer rags.