Friday, April 10, 2015

Bukhara. Chor Bakr Necropolis.


Also called "The City of the Dead", Chor Bakr Necropolis is one of the more unusual landmarks in Bukhara.  Ostensibly the necropolis developed around the burial site of Abu Bakr Said, who died in the year 360 of the Muslim Calendar (970-971 AD) and claimed to be a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad.

In 1560, the Shaybanid ruler, Abdullakhan II ordered that a mosque, madrasah and khanaka be built here as a gift to his teacher, Djuybar Sheikh Muhammad Islam Khoja, who was buried here when he died in 1563. The construction of the complex was completed the same year.


The necropolis is spread over three hectares (7.5 acres).  Three buildings - a mosque, a madrasah and a khankaa were constructed in the center of the necropolis, at the crossroads of its alleys.   To the north of the necropolis, a garden was planted - filled with poplars, junipers, willows, fruit trees, grapevines, and roses.  And most importantly, the site includes the family mausoleums, family burial plots, tombs, and courtyards enclosed with walls.

In 1593, Djuybar Sheikh Muhammad Islam Khoja’s son Khodja Bakr Sadi was buried next to his father. Subsequently, other family members were also buried here. It just so happened that four of the men buried here, in a single tomb, bore the title of “Bakr” which translates into English as *brother; Chor-Bakr means *Four Brothers*.

According to a popular, ancient Bukharan ancient popular belief, if within one day a person manages to make pilgrimages to four mazars (graves) of the saints named Bakr, any wish of his or her's will come true. That is why Chor-Bakris a popular pilgrimage site for Muslims.


We entered the site at the location of the mosque, madrasah and khanaka.


The mosque.

The mosque.

The minaret.

The madrasah and khanaka.

Opposite the three main religious buildings was the necropolis. The mausoleums were located on the periphery of the necropolis.  Inside and behind them were the burial plots.


A mausoleum.

Today was Friday and we arrived just as noon time prayers were taking place.  I stood around for a few minutes to take in the surroundings and to listen to the iman delivering the service.


A sign identifying the burial plot of Abu Bakr Said.

We followed Suhkrob around.  Like most of the other places we've been to in Bukhara, there is little signage identifying a structure so I really have no idea what I was looking at.  I just enjoyed the walk on a picture perfect day in Bukhara.


A family burial plot.

If I remember correctly, one of these tile colored tombs belongs to Abu Bakr Said.



His tomb is a sacred spot.  Pilgrims come here to pray and pay their respects.



Arriving for prayer service, a bit late.

There wasn't much to see here so we didn't stay long at all.  It was a short day of sightseeing but I had already reached overload. I was ready to just relax.

Back in the old city, we bid Suhkrob farewell.  We thanked him for his time and we gave him his tip which included one of the NYC t-shirts.  Before he drove away, we coordinated with Shavkat on when to meet up with him tomorrow.  He's driving us to the Turkmenistan border where we will be saying good bye to him.

Pat and I headed back to our hotel room to rest a bit and decide on how we're going to spend the remainder of our time in Bukhara.