A large religious building complex known as the Sheikh Muslihiddin mausoleum is located in the historical centre of Khujand. It was named after MuslihiddinKhujandi, a poet and ruler of the town, who lived in the 12th century. His biography, Manokib, has been preserved. According to folk legend, Sheikh Muslihiddin was a holy miracle man. After his death, he was initially buried in Unji village (a suburb of Khujand). However, after some time his followers carried the Sheikh’s ashes to the place where he lies now and built a mausoleum over his tomb.
The 12th century burial-vault consists of a small burial vault made out of baked bricks decorated with terracotta and spray decor. It was later destroyed during a Mongol invasion and also suffered as a result of the general economic decline of Maveraunnahr in the 13th century.
In the 14th century the mausoleum was rebuilt but with a different design and now consisted of two rooms. Its new look existed for some time, but then it was destroyed again for unknown reasons. In the 16th century a new building, quite different from previous one in its construction and plan, was built on the ruins of the old mausoleum. It acquired a new purpose – from being just a mausoleum it turned into a mausoleum-khonako, i.e. a building for prayer and ritual ceremonies.
The memorial has been reconstructed and repaired many times since and that has led to a distortion of the 16th century look of the mausoleum-khonako. In the second half of the 20th century the mausoleum for a long time housed the regional historical museum. In the 1990s the museum in the building ceased to exist and its displays were taken to another place.
Currently this complex consists of a cathedral mosque, a minaret more than 20m high built in the late 19th century, and ancient burial places including the Sheikh Muslihiddin mausoleum in the centre. The mausoleum itself is a two-storied domed skylight construction with a central cross-shaped ziyoratkhona (commemoration hall) and domical gurkhona (burial-vault). In the centre of the construction there is a carved wooden headstone – (sagona), covered with a thin, geometric carving filled with ornaments and inlaid gems.
Directly across the street from the complex, on the other side of the square, there is one of the largest covered markets in Central Asia – Panjshanbe. The market building is decorated in national style. The bazaar is open every day from early morning to late evening; here you can buy almost any fruit or vegetable grown in Tajikistan. It is always possible to have delicious and inexpensive courses of national cuisine in any one of the numerous teahouses and cafes around the market.