Central Asia: Uzbekistan - Day trip from Khiva - Elliq Qala

By Cubie - January 13, 2016

Khorezm is one of the largest oasis in Central Asia, formed by the great river Amu-Darya. This area was an important oasis long before Urgench or even Khiva came to importance. Much of ancient Khorezm falls within modern day Karakalpakstan. This area was referred to as the 'Golden Ring of Ancient Khorezm'. Traditionally, this area was known as Elliq-Qala which means Fifty Fortresses.

One could possibly engage a taxi to bring them there but we overheard a fellow traveller asked the B&B manager about making the trip. (Yes, this is the same Hungarian traveller who wanted a selfie with Katya). So we approached him to share the taxi cost. The next morning, a Swiss traveller joined us as well.

After breakfast, we departed to see the ancient fortress. We visited three fortresses - Ayaz Qala, Toprak Qala and Kyzyl Qala.

Ayaz Qala, a complex of three forts is the most well-known and one of the largest qala (fortress) of this ancient Khorezm. Ayaz Qala was a fortress complex from the 6th-7th century. Apparently the fortresses showed a set of residential buildings, large yard and towers. If one is interested to stay overnight, there is a yurt camp nearby Ayaz Qala.

Next up was Toprak Qala which was discovered in 1938. Toprak Qala was the capital of Khorezm in the 3rd century A.D. Some reading material was said that the fortress was used as the residence of khorezmshakhs, others mentioned that it was the main temple complex of Khorezm kings who ruled the area in the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Fellow traveller did an experiment of evaporating water. It was so hot that the moment the water lands on the ground, it gets evaporated. It was about 90% dry in less than a minute. I think we pretty much could fry eggs on our heads.

Our last stop was just on opposite sides of the road, Kyzyl Qala. There is a legend that Toprak Qala and Kyzyl Qala are joined by an underground passage. It was also said to be a part of Toprak Qala's fortified system and served as additional defenses.

Side note: Did I get my priorities wrong?

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