The twenty-five metre stump of a once mighty minaret at the centre of the ancient city of Balasagun, Burana tower offers views over excavated ruins, verdant grasslands and the distant jagged dark of the enclosing mountains. Climb the inside stair well and spiral back through time – Burana has a fascinating history of the great feudal state of the Karakhanids conquering outward from Kazakhstan and introduced Islam to Central Asia. It’s most famous son, who, too, once assailed the tower, is the Uyghur philosopher Yusuf Khass Hajib, writer of the Kutadgu Bilig, or The wisdom which brings happiness. The text was written for the prince of Kashgar and reflects the author's and his society’s beliefs, feelings, and practices, and illuminates daily life in the Karakhanid Empire. You’d have to be keen to crack the weighty tome, but a wander through the stone markers in the grounds and a chat with a local guide will also help you glean an idea of Karakhanid life in its full glory.