On the edge of the Fergana Valley, a region in Central Asia where Taikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan all meet lies an area that is packed with enclaves, tiny territories completely surrounded by foreign territory.
There stands the Tomb of Ali at Shakhimardan. Now nearly meaningless to those who live in its shadows, the Tomb of Ali at Shakhimardan once formed the center of a powerful khanate, or state in Central Asia. The Tomb gained its importance when Fergana became a province unto itself under Russian rule in the 19th century.
Known as one of the most beautiful palaces anywhere in or around Uzbekistan, the Tomb of Ali at Shakhimardan is located 1,500 meters above sea level, so it looks out over the territory that surrounds it. Nestled into the mountains of the Alai Range, the Tomb looks like something out of Tolkien as imagined by Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The palace is associated with Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammed. While in Central Asia, some say, Ali visited the village of Shakhimardan and decided he needed a place to stay when he returned. Translated from the Persian, Shakhimardan means “Lord of the people,” which is clearly how Ali saw himself.