Finding a car in Nakhchivan turns out to be harder than I thought, but once I am behind the wheel, the going turns out to be incredibly easy. Instead of chartering taxis and negotiating every time with people whose language I don't speak, I will be free to go whenever I want and stay however long I like. Driving in Nakhchivan turns out to be straightforward, especially once you are out of the capital which has some one-way streets. I drive the main road towards the northwest. There is hardly any traffic, and the only reason for me to stop is when a large herd of sheep is pushed across the road by a shepherd. This is driving without any navigational aids: just follow the road until you see the turn-off for your destination. And I can see it coming from a distance, with barren mountains in the background.
When I take the turn right at Qarabaghlar, the two minarets I am looking for tower over the low rise buildings of the town as I approach it. But when I am about to arrive, I see that the building is hidden behind a high wall, so I turn around. When I see an old woman approach, I get out and try to ask her, but she smiles an embarrassed smile. An old man walks up, and when I point at the building I see rising above the wall, and pronounce the name, he opens his mouth, shows a row of golden teeth blinking in the sun, and points to the passenger seat of my car. Before I know it, he is guiding me with his hands, and takes me directly to the parking lot on the west of the Garabaghlar mausoleum complex. I feel awkward leaving him here, but after he approves of the right hand that I place on my heart, he walks off, towards the cemetery in the west. For the umpteenth time, I wished I could communicate and know what this man is thinking and doing.
It is soon clear that I have arrived at the perfect time of the day. The late afternoon winter sun is casting a warm light on the Garabaghlar mausoleum complex. There is no one around, and the doors are closed. Two slender minarets rise above the rectangular building. I walk around it, and find a cylindrical tower behind it, with semicircular facets. The wall has Islamic quotes in Kufic writing, and has white calligraphy on a dark blue base near the top, that has turquoise tiles. This is a remarkable building, and it has been here since the 14th century. The door of this tower is also closed - alas. I will not be able to see what the inside looks like. Or will I? I see smoke coming out of the mausoleum building, and after waiting for a while in the sun, someone comes out through the door. I make a gesture, but the man does not open the door for me, and walks away. I will have to settle for the exterior view. I walk around these medieval buildings once more, see it from all possible angles, and walk away, to the cemetery where the old man disappeared in. When I come back, the light is even warmer than before, and I wait until it slowly fades away - just like it has done thousands and thousands of times before. When the building has turned into a silhouet, it is time to leave for the drive back to Nakchivan; and I take an interior road to the main road.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Garabaghlar Mausoleum (Azerbaijan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Garabaghlar Mausoleum. Read more about this site.