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Gozli Ata

Gozli Ata is one of the remotest shrine pilgrimage destinations in Turkmenistan. Its setting is also among the most beautiful. It lies in the centre of a natural bowl, surrounded by escarpments of bands of pink and white rock. Gozli Ata was reportedly a respected Sufi who lived in the early part of the 14th century. Gozli Ata had a large following until his untimely death at the hands of Mongol invaders. His mausoleum, located in a natural depression of rocky desert, is now a popular place of pilgrimage. His mausoleum is a brick building with twin white domes, standing in an old graveyard containing many nicely carved stone tombs. The twin-domed structure of the mausoleum is necessary to accommodate the length of the tomb: a triangular prism perhaps three ordinary graves long.

Gozli Ata’s wife is buried in an adjacent mausoleum and according to custom visitors must first pray at her last resting place. A cemetery has sprung up nearby where gravestones contain a notch in the top where water can collect to ‘feed’ the soul of the deceased. Gozli Ata is 135km north of Balkanabat; an experienced driver is needed to find it.