Monday, June 28, 2010

Nomadic Living

A very unique thing about Central Asia is the fact that many people live in yurts. A traditional yurt is typically circular in shape and is made out of wool, timber and ropes. Yurts can be dismantled, which explains why nomads use this as their home wherever they choose to set up. Naturally, I felt that staying in a yurt was a must, and the opportunity did come!

We left Khiva after spending two full days there and headed towards our camp in Ayaz Kala. Ayaz Kala is an ancient fortress site in the Karakalpakstan province of the country and so, we crossed the border of Khorezm to enter this region. This part of Uzbekistan can get scorching hot and the temperature can even rise to 60-70 degrees celsius during the summer months! How crazy is that!!! When we were there, it was about 40 degrees and already then, I was exhausted. Still, the natural beauty and serenity of the place made up for it.

The distance between Khiva and Ayaz Kala is about 70km and along the way, we stopped to visit Toprak Kala. Toprak Kala is an archaeological fortress that is surrounded by the Karatau mountain range (black mountain). Toprak Kala used to be the ancient capital of the Khorezm province and was built around the 1st century AD (sources vary). Like all fortresses, Toprak Kala also served as watch point for enemies. It was extremely windy there as we climbed up the rock formations. Quite a beautiful site and view though!

We then drove on to our camp in Ayaz Kala. I was really excited as it was to be my first time sleeping in a yurt. I was overjoyed at the sight of the grey yurts lined up one after another at the camp and could not wait to get in and enjoy every minute of it. Our yurt was not ready yet but the owners were ready to serve some lunch. So, we (us, our guide, the local guide and the driver) assembled in a yurt and ate some local food together. Not the best, I must say.

After lunch, we made our way to the Ayaz Kala fortress by foot. We had to walk through the very dry desert and along the way, we spotted some lizards. Yuck! The heat was also unbearable and I could feel my head burning. That itself was motivation for me to walk quickly to seek some shade at the fortress. The fortress is beautiful but very secluded and used to be a much bigger site than what it is today. It was built around the 4th century BC and was also designed to protect the locals from nomadic invasions.

We spent some time exploring the ruins before returning to our camp. We could finally check into our yurt #9 and I was simply thrilled! The yurt was beautifully decorated and offered all the basic comforts one desires. The hosts had laid out thick mattresses and pillows for us and we really enjoyed the spaciousness and cleanliness of our yurt. After a short nap, we hung out at the camp and enjoyed watching the sun set. It was one of those "me and nature" moments for me. I just had to do some yoga in this setting and it felt great! David also totally relaxed that evening!

Ayaz Kala looked stunning at sunset and was most beautiful under the moonlit sky. The picture speaks for itself...

We had a great night. I slept so well and never imagined that I would be so comfortable in a yurt! I am so grateful for this experience as I truly loved it.

Up next, our adventure in Bukhara!


DVD said...

Incredible blue sky and very nice set of pictures. The yoga poses fit the place !

banoo said...

Its really great as you not only visited this region but also took an experience of living there for a short while. I could imagine how much you would have borne with the heat but I appreciate that you enjoyed it! I feel strongly that your travel experience and the beautiful narration should get published in black and white! Try your best!


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