27-Oct-2006 -- This is the 20th confluence visit on a bicycle trip from China to Central Asia. The story starts at 32°N 107°E.
After a successful visit of 40°N 69°E
we focused on the “confluences” of the Silk Road. While heading through Uzbekistan from East to West, we came through the historical cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. The glory of former times consists of impressing mosques and mausoleums and attracts tourists. But also Degree-Confluence Hunters are attracted. As a consequence, eastern Uzbekistan is quite completed in terms of confluence visits. But as we reached the deserted western parts of Uzbekistan, plenty of unvisited confluences made side-trips worthwhile.
We had spent the night in the historical town Khiva ca.70km away. But Khiva is not the only historical site in the area. We approached the confluence via the city of Urganch, Beruny and then to the town Bostan, ca. 15km away. Actually the area around the confluence is called Elliq-Qala, which means 50 castles. There are ruins of many castles dating back from the 6th and 7th century, others from later epochs (11th century) or even older times (4th and 5th century). By coincidence the most impressive of these castles is within 3 km to the confluence. It is called Ayaz-Qala which means “Wind-Castle”. We first paid the castle a visit and took a picture towards the confluence below. The site is unprotected and I was wondering if it was a good idea to let tourists (like us) wander around the remainders of the castle. The erosion is degrading the castles a lot, but people running around contribute unnecessarily to its degeneration.
From the castle mountain, you can see the Lake Ayazkol, a huge lake without outflow north of the confluence. There is also an expensive yurt-stay at its shore.
From the nearest road, it is 950m through sandy ground to reach the confluence point. It was an easy walk for us. We didn’t find any spectacular features at the confluence. However, the extraordinary fact about this confluence is the view to the castle.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 11:00 a.m.
- Time to reach the CP from the road: 20 minutes
- Distance to a track: 950 m
- Distance to a road: 950 m
- Distance of bicycle parking: 950 m
- Distance to houses: 3km castle, ca.4km yurtstay m
- Topography: flat, some minor mountains at the horizon view
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0.76 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 5 m
- GPS height: 91 m
- Vegetation: thorn bushes, some bundles of grass between the sandy dunes.
- Weather: sunny, 18° C (estimated temperature)
- Description of the CP: In western Uzbekistan, arid lowland alluvium soil covered with layers of sand. Uncultivated and not populated.
- Given Name: The Wind-Castle Confluence
Story continues at 42°N 60°E