We were back at the Tashkent Airport at 6 AM Friday morning to catch a flight to Nukus, Karakalpakstan. It was hard to believe that we only arrived in Uzbekistan in the wee hours of Wednesday morning considering all we had seen and done in Tashkent, but Friday was our day to move along to Karakalpakstan.

Karakalpakstan is an autonomous region in northwestern Uzbekistan and is home to around two million people. The reason we flew to Nukus, the capital, was to see an art museum created by Igor Savitsky. A native of Russia, Savitsky loved Nukus and opened the museum there in 1966. He devoted the rest of his life to collecting and safeguarding Russian avant-garde works of art that would have otherwise been destroyed by the KGB. The collection is the enormous and the museum can only display two to three percent of it at any one time.

From Nukus, we drove about three hours through the desert to the city of Khiva. About an hour outside of Nukus, we stopped at Chilpyk. Even if you don’t know exactly where it is, you can’t miss it if you are driving through the area. Rick said it reminded him of a massive ant hill.

Chilpyk from miles away.


Central Asia is often thought of as the birthplace of Zoroastrianism. This religion is very old and was the predominant religion in the area before Islam arrived. It was actually one of the first religions to promote monotheism. The basic ideas of Zoroastrianism are good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Chilpyk is an ancient Zoroastrian monument. It was constructed between the first century BC and the first century AD and was often called the Tower of Silence. It is about two hundred feet in diameter and was used as a place to bring the deceased in order to allow birds to clean the soft tissue from the bones of the dead. The Zoroastrians thought it was wrong to pollute the earth with the remains of the deceased. When the bones were completely cleaned, they were placed in an ossuary and buried. I can’t help but think the chickens and turkeys of the modern world would be a bit amused at the irony of who was picking whose bones clean way back then.

With the conquest by the Arabs and Islam, Chilpyk ceased to be used. However, it later made a wonderful signal/watch tower along the Silk Road. Today it appears in the national emblem for Karakalpakstan.


  1. Sarah Guida on April 27, 2024 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting! It looks like Chilpyk is in a desert region. Skies are so beautiful and dark blue in your pictures.

  2. Beth Mathias on April 27, 2024 at 3:34 pm

    I could like Zoroastrianism.
    Maybe we should bring that religion back. I don’t even mind the birds pecking my flesh clean off the bones. Sounds good for the planet and all.

  3. Pam Morgan on April 28, 2024 at 10:57 am

    It does look like an ant hill with clear blue sky around it.

  4. Kakie Honig on April 28, 2024 at 6:13 pm

    Cool! There is a lot to be said for good thoughts, good words and good deeds. Would not mind that!
    Thanks for your wonderful descriptions and exciting adventures!
    As always looking forward to your future posts.

  5. Melinda Young on April 29, 2024 at 3:55 pm


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