Xinaliq is the highest village in Azerbaijan, nested in the mountains of the Higher Caucasus. It is on an elevation of 2300 m, above the tree line, and surrounded by mountains covered by grass and a stunning view on the snow-capped mountains of the Caucasus.
Xinaliq is part of the Quba region and is located at the end of a meandering road through first lush forests and then a steep canyon. The travel to Xinaliq and the stunning views are part of the experience of the journey.
The village is built into the slope of a mountain and mud roads connect the low-rise houses. Most houses are built from stone and have flat roofs and it is uncertain whether it is a good idea to step on them. Most houses are rather tiny with small windows, some sheds are without windows and low doors and maybe stables, other buildings are bigger with larger windows. Mud bricks are cast and dried in the sunshine.
As nearly no trees grow in these adverse conditions of high altitude people rely on dung for cooking and heating. The dung patties lie everywhere for drying and are neatly piled up for storage.
Xinaliq has a small museum with local artifacts such as tools, toys, clothes and manuscripts. The people of Xinaliq speak their own, however endangered language. One of our two young tour guides to the museum demonstrated his ability to count in Xinaliq language. The manuscripts are diverse and cover writings as well as music notes. Unfortunately many of them are just piled up in a vitrine.
The people are friendly despite our invasion and certainly they are used to a couple of foreigners coming to their village. The faces are weather-beaten and the children have a certain wisdom in their face. Some of the children’s faces remind me of children in Tibet – it is their tanned cheeks, the woolen caps and the gorgeous blue sky and light of high mountains that shine on them.
And a post on two kids from Xinaliq is here.