About 20 km west of Nukus and past the town of Khojayli, on the way to the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border crossing, is Mizdahkan. An ancient and vast necropolis, Mizdahkan is spread over three low-lying hills, covering an area of approximately 2 sq.km.
Mizdahkan appears rather suddenly in an otherwise flat landscape. One moment you are driving past Soviet-style blocky constructions separated by vast stretches of emptiness. And the next moment there are thousands of graves, tombs and mausoleums stretching away from you and into the horizon. Even though I had seen online images of the Mizdahkan Necropolis before my visit, their appearance was still unexpected and a little unreal. I actually confirmed with the driver that we were indeed at Mizdahkan !
A low boundary wall separates the necropolis from the road, and like the seemingly unending graves it enclosed, this one too seemed to stretch on without a break. Just as I was wondering where the entrance to Mizdahkan was, a partly open blue door appeared on the wall. It was the entrance to the city of the dead, Mizdahkan.
Once inside the blue doors and after the initial look, the first thing that struck me was the different ages, styles and types of tombs — from unmarked graves to those with gravestones to plain tombs to elaborate ones to well-preserved ones to those falling apart… they were all there.
Continue reading “The Mizdahkan Necropolis: A city for the dead”