Without any exaggeration, one can say that Nurata is the most exotic city of Uzbekistan. And this fact is not connected with the variety of ancient monuments and historic sites. There are many times more of them in other cities of Uzbekistan, but there all this medieval beauty is closely interwoven with the infrastructure of a modern city. Nevertheless, who could ever thought that there are places in this world where, just all of it do not exist. And only when entering to Nurata on a bumpy ground road, the one verge of which lies on the eastern outskirts of Kyzyl Kum, while another balks on the steep rocky blocks called the same name, one is able to understand clearly: a time machine subsists, and namely it is carrying you right now to this city lost in the centuries.
The name itself, i.e. Nurata is fanned by mysteries and legends. According to local ancient story, forty thousand years ago firestone (probably a meteorite) fell on the ground at this place and on the place it crashed, in a formed crater a spring scored, which water had sanative properties. People considered the fallen meteorite to be a heavenly mercy: «Allah granted us Nur (a ray)»! «Nurata” in translation into English is» the father-ray » or «the ray of father. Believe it or not, but since that time a strange lights shine all above this spring’s water, which the local inhabitants name like a holy ray.
Life in this town of Navoi region, which is 240 kilometers from Samarkand, with a population of only 25000 people, is quite simple and unfussy. There is no internet, mobile connection and television at this place, however there is something that makes come here hundreds of tourists and pilgrims from all over Uzbekistan, as well as near and far abroad.
There is no doubt, that the reason is the location of complex «Chashma» (spring) which is one of the most important centers of Islam in the region and the place of pilgrimage for hundreds of believers.
The ensemble of worship place consists of a spring, a draw-well, Juma Mosque, Mazar Nur-ota, boor (Bathhouse).
Juma Mosque is located directly over the holy spring, there are exactly 40 columns at its base, and the dome is 16 meters in diameter. There is an extremely wonderful acoustics in the mosque, the words which were told in a whisper at one end, can be clearly heard in another. Everything can be explained quite simply, four huge hums (jugs) were put in four places under the dome into the walls; such location creates a resonating effect.
Mazar is situated in the southeast, in the direction of the spring, where the relics of Nur-ota prophet who lived here, buried. There is also another burial a little further in a southern direction which is supposed to belong to saint’s wife and mother.
The water of Nurata spring has a constant temperature – 19.1 C and according to the local legends treats all the diseases of body and soul: «loquacity, fussiness of mind, a bilious character and even a bite of a rabid dog», on the other hand no one will have doubts if have a look at the chemical composition of the water written on the plate, hanged nearby the spring and which can be seen by every tourist. There are about fifteen elements of the periodic table there, including gold, silver, bromine and iodine. Such water bewitched and it is able to calm down nerves, as well as to help the gastrointestinal tract.It is estimated that out of the holy spring 420 liters of water poured per second, at the same time fish can be found in the place the water flows. Indeed fish are everywhere; one can see it in the irrigation ditch, which takes place on the entire complex, and in the pool. Apparently feeling its privilege (the fish can not be eaten, it is considerably sacred), Marinka, that is the kind of royal trout inhabits the “Chashma”, has become almost tame. It is very funny and uncommonly interesting to feed the small fish with slices of fresh bread, which they pounce like a pack of hungry puppies, meanwhile as always, the strongest wins, because some of the fish instances grow up to several pounds and have a very solid length.
Close to the spring there is a well – it is one more personage of «Chashma». Its walls lined with rough stone, at the bottom it can clearly be seen the contours of the human hand – “beshpandzha” — Hand of God. The entire perimeter of the well is covered with the flying flags of colored ribbons tied to the branches of isyryk (miracle grass which has therapeutical effect and by some legends and beliefs can banish evil spirits) growing in the crevices of rocks, with the hope of fulfillment of desires.
On the southern outskirts of Nurata the next attractions is situated, no one can past through, it is simply impossible. That is fortress of Nur, built by the order of Alexander of Macedon. It came down to our times with the varying degrees of its units and structures preservation. The north-west side is almost completely destroyed and only the ruins of the walls remained, but the southern and south-east towers were preserved so well that involuntarily begin misdoubt according such a ripe old age of the outpost.
The fortress was necessary for the city, occupied an important strategic position between the natural wilderness and cultural areas of agriculture, because the region of the Nurata mountains at that time were known as a very troubled place where the troops gathered going to attack a neighboring territory, plots matured and outcasts and rebels ended last minutes of their lives. And as it is said in the work of an ancient chronicler Narshakhi: “a lot of people who saw the Prophet Muhammad were buried there”. Therefore, there are so many tombs of saints — mazars, imaginary graves and mosques (Namazgokh, Hasan and Husan), where pilgrims come and which are still there in the vicinity Nurata nowadays. The name of Alexander of Macedon is also related with the constructions of underground pipelines — kyarizes in the desert area of Nurata. Kyarizes represent a chain of underground aqueducts — vertical and horizontal shafts, the walls of which are reinforced with stones, to collect groundwater and output them to the surface. As the spring of the “Chashma” became the saint place, local people are happy to use kyarizes today.
How many more unexplored places and mysterious phenomena of ancient Nurata stores — a city with such a wonderful tour operator, as a time machine.