The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Termez to Shakrisabz

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On that day they departed, and slept on a plain, near the banks of a river. On Monday they dined at the foot of a high hill, where there was a handsome house, ornamented with very fine brick work, and in it there were many ornamental patterns, painted in many colours. This hill is very high, and there is a pass leading up by a ravine, which looks as if it had been artificially cut, and the hills rise to a great height on either side, and the pass is smooth, and very deep. In the centre of the pass there is a village, and the mountain rises to a great height behind. This pass is called 'the gates of iron,' and in all the mountain range there is no other pass, so that it guards the land of Samarkand, in the direction of India. These 'gates of iron' produce a large revenue to the lord Timur Beg, for all merchants, who come from India, pass this way. {The pass described by Clavijo, still known as the Iron Gates, takes its name for a set of wooden doors strengthened by iron and seen by a Buddhist monk on the road from Termez in 629 AD} Timur Beg is also lord of the other 'gates of iron,' which are near Derbent, leading to the province of Tartary {in the Caucasus, 1,500 miles away}, and the city of Caffa, which are also in very lofty mountains, between Tartary and the land of Derbent, facing the sea of Baku; and the people of Tartary are obliged to use that pass, when they go to Persia. The distance from the 'gates of iron' at Derbent, to those in the land of Samarkand, is fifteen hundred leagues. Say if a great lord, who is master of these 'gates of iron,' and of all the land that is between them, such as Timur Beg, is not a mighty Prince ! Derbent is a very large city, with a large territory. They call the 'gates of iron' by the names of Derbent and of Termez. At this house they made the ambassadors a present of a horse; and the horses of this country are much praised for their great spirit. These mountains of the 'gates of iron' are without woods; and in former times, they say that there were great gates, covered with iron, placed across the pass, so that no one could pass without an order. On this day they departed, and slept in the open air, on the top of a hill. On the next day they dined and took their siesta near some tents of the Chatagais, on the banks of a river. In the afternoon they rode on, and slept on the top of a range of hills. They started again in the middle of the night, and dined next day at a village; and here an attendant of the Master Fray Alfonzo Paez, who had been ill, departed this life.