Everyone has heard of Daniel and the lion's den, but few people could tell you that his final resting place, the Mausoleum of Daniyar (Tashkent; 09.00-18.00 daily), is in Samarkand, on the northern edge of Afrosiab by the healing spring. Daniel (Daniyar in Uzbek) is considered a patron saint and protector of Samarkand, and brings wealth and prosperity to the city.
According to legend, Khodja Daniyar was a companion of Kusam ibn Abbas, who was believed to be a relative of the Prophet and one of the first Islamic preachers in Central Asia. Other legends associate Khodja Daniyar with the Koranic and Biblical prophet Daniyar (Daniel) whose remains were brought here by Amir Temur.
The prophet Daniel is revered by three world religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and mausoleum is still a pilgrimage place for the followers of all three Abrahamic religions. According to biblical history, in 605 BC, Daniel was captured by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and led to Babylon. There he deserved high respect for his spirituality and divine insight. History refers to two places of burial of the Holy Daniel - Babylon itself and Susa town.
However, legend says that Tamerlan brought part of the remains of Daniel, (namely, his arm) from Susa in Iran to Samarkand. The mausoleum was built above his grave in the XIV century and was re-built in the early XX century. Near the mausoleum of the prophet Daniel, there is located a water source with tasteful water. The place is a cult for pilgrimage, made by both local residents and visitors from around the world.
The mausoleum is unadorned, and this is even more noticeable given the contrast with the elaborate decoration of Samarkand's other sites. The 12m-long stone buildi ng, the latest of many on this site, dates from the 19th century and supports five simple domes. Inside is Daniel's tomb; it's considered a holy site, so you must remove your shoes and be conservatively dressed to avoid giving offence.
A peculiar feature of Khodja Daniyar's legend is that the saint continues to grow in the tomb. This unusual miracle has necessitated the lengthening of his white marble sarcophagus several times during its history. It is now some 18m in length and covered in green and gold prayer rugs. Green is the colour of Islam; the gold denotes the importance of the saint. A domed mausoleum above the long gravestone was built at the beginning of the 20th century.
Sheep are allowed to graze around the neighbouring spring, and the water is said to have healing properties.