Hazrat Daud Cave, Samarkand Region
Hazrat Daud Cave in Samarkand Region, also known as Hazrati Daud or Saint David’s Cave, is one of Uzbekistan’s few holy sites revered by adherents of three different world religions. As such, it attracts a large number of pilgrims and curious tourists on a daily basis.
The cave, located amid picturesque mountains near the villages of Aksai and Mehnatkash in the Nurabad District of Samarkand region, is about 40 kilometers southwest of Samarkand city. According to legend, the Jewish king and prophet David (known among Muslims as Davud, Dovud or Daud) reached the site while fleeing from his enemies. Surrounded by attackers, he knelt down to pray for deliverance. God answered his plea by endowing David with supernatural power, with which he tore the rocks asunder and hid in the newly-formed hollow. This cave, now the object of pilgrimage, has attracted countless visitors over the past centuries.
Hazrat Daud Cave is located at an altitude of nearly 1250 meters, so in order to reach the cave visitors must either climb 1303 steps up a hill or ride a donkey or horse to the top. Benches and vendors selling souvenirs, bottled water and snacks line the ascent. At the peak is a small mosque where many stop to say a short prayer before continuing along the opposite slope and descending 200 steps, at the foot of which gapes the entrance to the cave.
The cave itself is approximately 15 meters high, 30 meters long and between 0.5 to 4 meters wide at various points. On the walls near the entrance are traces of huge handprints and giant knee prints. At the back of the tunnel, sufficiently illuminated by several lamps, are handprints and footprints attributed to King David. Many pilgrims make wishes by touching the prints as they ask the prophet to bless them with a successful business, restored health, fertility and the fulfillment of other desires.
The area has become better equipped for receiving foreign travelers in recent years. Although most tourists visit Hazrat Daud on a day trip from Samarkand, guest houses at the foot of the mountain provide the option of an overnight stay in the town. Several grocery stores, cafes and tourist shops selling religious trinkets and local souvenirs line its streets and provide employment for many residents of nearby villages.
Hazrat Daud Cave in Samarkand Region is a worthwhile stopover for tourists sure to appreciate the gorgeous natural scenery mingled with history, legend and compelling cultural insights.