Rising from a grassy plain against a backdrop of windswept ice peaks, the Burana Tower in the Chuy Valley forms a superbly iconic spectacle. The remains of a minaret that once stood 45m (145ft) tall, it is virtually the sole surviving vestige of the ancient Sogdian city of Balasagun, once an important stop on the Silk Road.
Dotted around a field next to the tower is a collection of enigmatic stone grave markers. Carved into human forms, with faces and weapons clearly discernible, the figures appear to be buried waist or neck deep, as if emerging from the earth. They’re believed to be around 1,500 years old.