This picturesque arched well, or saqqakhana, is part of the Bahauddin Naqshbandi complex, near Bukhara. The location is sacred to the followers of Shah Naqshband, a 14th century Sufi teacher who was born and died there. In Islam, Sufism offers a mystical path to divine love and knowledge. The Sufi order of Naqshbandi became one of the largest mystical Islamic orders, and it is still popular today. Pilgrims from all over the Muslim world came to pay tribute at the famous Sufi’s grave. At the arched well pilgrims quenched their thirst and said their prayers of gratitude for the gift of water, a truly sacred substance in the arid climate of Central Asia.
Due to its scarcity, water was more valuable than gold. In Central Asian towns, a specially appointed government official, a mirab bashi, oversaw the distribution of water through an elaborate network of irrigation canals.