The southern part of Uzbekistan shares borders with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and is a land of culture and history as rich and diverse as its environment. The area has a checkered past under the empires of the Kusham and Greco-Bactrian Empires, and was ruled by Genghis Khan, who put his army's horses out to pasture here in the summer, while the Chagatai Mongols were responsible for some of the astounding architecture in the ancient city of Qarshi.
From the border-marking river of Amu Darya to the craggy peaks of the mountains of Hissar to the wonderful wildlife at Dengizkul lake, the region boasts both rich ecology and stunning scenery, which is responsible for much of the country's production of wheat, cotton and silk, not to mention the varieties of wine made in the vineyards at Denau. Travelers to the south of Uzbekistan are sure to be delighted by the area's beauty, charm and hospitality.
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In the southwest of Uzbekistan, near the Turkmenistan border, lies lake Dengizkul. Surrounded by hot dry desert and banked with sand dunes, the lake is home to countless species of birds and other wildlife. Visitors flock to the lake to spot protected birds, such as the endangered Marbled Teal and white-headed ducks in their natural habitat.
The city of Qarshi is famous for many things, including woven flat carpets and teeming bazaars, but most of all, its historical buildings. The mosque known as Kok Gumbaz is part of a 16th century complex of buildings built in the style of Timur, commissioned by Abdullah Khan. It includes public baths and the mosque itself, both of which are still functioning.
Just a short drive outside the city of Termez is the ruin of Kyrk-Kyz, which has been considered a palace country estate, a fortress and an abbey. The name means ‘forty girls’ and legend has it that the princess Guilam and 40 of her ladies-in-waiting resisted a siege here. The vast building and its walls are now crumbling but well worth a visit.
To the north of Qarshi’s busy market square, the 500-year-old Khoja Abdul Aziz Madrassah, is the largest in town and now houses the regional museum of south Uzbekistan. The exhibits are a testament to Uzbekistan’s mixed history; in the right wing are countless photographs of Soviet labor accomplishments, while in the left wing are artifacts from the Bukharan emirate.
This religious complex was built and formed in the city of Termez between the 11th and 17th centuries and has enormous significance to Muslims today. It includes the graves of the Sayyid Dynasty, who are said to be direct descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. Domed mausoleums are connected with vaulted galleries with colorful glazings to ancient mosques.
In the southwest of the country, on the banks of the river Surkhandarya, lies the small, pretty town of Denau. Situated in a valley, the town enjoys a subtropical climate which makes it ideal for producing local wine varieties including ‘Novbakhor’, ‘Morastel’ and ‘Uzbekistan’, which are acclaimed for their full-bodied bouquets.
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