Holiday in Central Asia (24): around Khiva in Uzbekistan 

Day 23 found us still staying in Khiva and it was a light day with simply a morning trip to two nearby locations with a local guide called Enessa. 

On the outskirts of Khiva is the Palace of Nurullabay which was built between 1906 and 1912. Like the Summer Palace outside Bukhara, this is a mixture of Eastern and Western or Uzbek and Russian styles. The rooms are largely empty, so one admires the ceramic chimneys, large mirrors and gold-embroidered ceilings. There is a collection of early photographs of the various khans and some of their subjects.  

Further out of town –  north-west towards Urgench –  is a place called Ulli Hovli (Great Court) Fortress. Some three centuries ago, this became home to around 100 Turkmen families who were unhappy living in Turkmenistan and allowed to move to Uzbekistan. In 2014, it was turned into a Turkmen Cultural Centre. Given that our group had been refused entry to Turkmenistan, this was the the best way on this trip to learn something of the Turkmen way of life and the complex includes the breeding of Bactrian camels and Ahalteke horses and access to yurts and crafts.  We had lunch here.  

After free time in the afternoon, we returned to the walled city for dinner at a restaurant called ”Odilbek”. This evening, we were treated to a display of traditional music and dance called ‘lazgi’. There were five men performing string, drum and pipe instruments and three dancers – two brightly dressed women and a young boy – presenting narratives dances. I was prevailed upon to represent the British by joining in one of these dances. 


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