Imagine an ancient Silk Road outpost that’s changed in the last 500 years.. A sand-coloured wall with a slope that reaches six meters high encloses the town while guards stand on the rounded towers. Camel caravans pass through the Palwan Darwase (East Gate), piled with silks from China, destined for Persia, Turkey and Europe. Others arrive with slaves to be sold.
Merchants meet in the market to make deals. They haggle, drinking cha and chatting until reach a deal and shake hands. They are feeling the intense heat of a parched sun. Dust blows from the relentless desert. Spices scent the air. One can still envision the traditional city.
Sand rules in these cities are devoid of high-rises to remind the traveller century it is. The long dusty journey from Bukhara still attests to its isolation.
Like all atmospheric desert towns, it has replaced caravans with visitors. Mobile phone towers compete with minarets. The city’s gates allow everybody and their walls shield nobody.
Students studied at the madrases scattered throughout the historic town while the slave trade flourished. Escaped slaves had their ears nailed to this Palwan Darwase while executions took place here, too. The harsh times are gone.
Today, an array of restaurants await the traveller with skewers of lamb and chicken arriving at the tables, soon devoured by the hungry travellers. They explore the historic madrasas and towering minarets to convey the ancient trading centre.
Silk Road Kiva captures you and imprisons your memory. Its brutal history mingles with today’s appeal. This isolated settlement is worth the trip.