Northeast of Kasansay take the first left after Zarkent for the mausoleum of Shah Fasil. A characteristic of Central Asian Islam is the cult of saints, combining the veneration of genuine Islamic figures and historically more hazy Sufic saints wilh pre-Islamic beliefs such as ancestral culls and Zoroastrianism. Holy places representative o( such beliefs are particularly common in the Ferghana Valley; Shah Fasil provides a 12th century example. Folk tales maintain the legend that 2,700 Companions of the Prophet invaded the valley in the mid-seventh century, only to fall in battle with infidels at Ispid Bulan. History prefers to credit Qutaiba ibn Muslim with the invasion of Ferghana in 712, but legend continues to hold sway. The sacred spot later earned the mausoleum of Shah Fasil, a distant descendent of Mohammed. The Mongols left the mausoleum untouched, so today's pilgrims can enjoy the buttressed original. They arrive in segregated buses disgorging men and women at separate areas for washing and prayer. Latent Zoroastrianism resurfaces in the fervent smearing of dust on faces and the atavistic tree-worship inherent in the wish-making practice of tying cloth strips to bushes. Inside the conical mausoleum, Koranic slabs worn smooth by the faithful rest on Fasil's whitewashed tomb. The tiled interior shines in many-coloured motifs. Finally, pilgrims tramp the path to the hilltop beyond where the holy warriors are said to be buried. To hitch on a pilgrim bus enquire in Namangan or Kasansay.