Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and unique Uzbekistan: Navoi region II

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Welcome to Navoi Region!

Posted by Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel on Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Navoi region is a mirage in the middle of the desert. Here you can see beautiful creations of human hands.

Architectural monuments of Nurata district are unique ancient examples of architectural knowledge created by great ancestors.

Nurata district. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

According to academicians Yakhio Gulyamov and Akhmadali Askarov, there was a mosque in Nurata district back in the 10th century. It is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the area, which is 40,000 years old, with a five-story mosque-hall, rebuilt in the seventeenth century, and then expanded several times.

Chilustun or Forty Columns Mosque. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

On both sides of the mosque are the vestibules of the middle of the 17th century. Although the second building is built on 16 columns, locals call it the Chilustun or Forty Columns Mosque.

Chilustun mosque. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

The roof of the building is covered with 25 small domes. The mosque was built in the 17th century, but the stone foundation of its old part has been preserved. Judging by the inscription on the roof, the mosque underwent major repairs in 1321 and 1903-1904.

Chilustun mosque. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

There are legends about a well-known spring in the Nurata region. The composition of the water of the Nurata spring, ethnography and lifestyle of the population, minerals, and archaeology were studied and analyzed by scientists back in 1912.

The people of Nurata. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

There are schools of schizothorax in the spring, but as the locals say, it is strictly forbidden to feed, fish, and eat the fish.

Nurata reservoir. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Scientists determined the presence of 8 elements in the composition of spring water. These are chlorine, sulfate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, silicon, carbonate, and sodium. In 2011, this research was renewed and it was proven that there are 21 trace elements in 1 liter of water. In particular, it was found that it is colorless, odorless, soft, sweet spring water, the constant temperature of which in winter and summer is +19.5 C. And various healing microelements are prophylaxis against a large number of diseases.

Located at an altitude of 524 meters above sea level, this spring is an honorable resort for the people of Uzbekistan.

Tourists in Nurata. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

The Chashma complex is the heart of the city of Nurata, Navoi region. This is an incredible place that has many legends and stories. Thousands of people come here from all over the world to enjoy the cult complex, see the monuments with their own eyes, touch the ancient and incomprehensible, and also pray on the holy land.

The Chashma complex. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

According to legend, forty thousand years ago, a meteorite emitting light fell on this place, after which a crater and a miraculous water source appeared here. The water in it is considered curative, therefore the complex is called Chashma, which means “source”, and the name of the area Nur, means “light”.

Nearby is the Besh Pyanja well, the depth of which reaches 6 meters. It is his water that gets into Chashma.

Opposite the source are the ruins of the ancient fortress Nur, once built by Alexander the Great himself.

The Friday Juma Mosque is located right above the holy spring. At its base, there are 40 wooden columns, and the diameter of the dome reaches 16 meters. The complex also includes the Panjvakta mosque, a bathhouse, and a Mazar.

The Qasim Sheikh Azizon architectural complex on the southern outskirts of Karmana, a small town in the Navoi region, is associated with the name of Karmana’s son, the local leader of the Yassavi Sufi order and disciple of Sheikh Khudododi Vali, also known in Central Asia as a religious and political figure Qasim Sheikh Azizon Karminagi (1500-1578/1579).

The Qasim Sheikh Azizon architectural complex. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

This sheikh became famous for his peaceful activities during the internal struggle between the rulers. In the middle of the 16th century, Qasim Sheikh helped the youngest son of Iskandar Sultan, the future ruler Abdullah II (1557-1598), in the fight against the united armies of Samarkand, Tashkent, and Turkestan. He not only blessed the future khan and brought his family and murids to the fortress, but also took part in the defense of the fortress.

Contemporaries testified that the building was built by the Sufi sheikh himself and until his death served as a madrasah. It also served as a place of worship during the two main Muslim holidays – Ramadan and Eid al-Adha.

Qasim Sheikh was buried in the middle of the courtyard, a huge hut was built over the grave, and its surroundings were decorated with marble. Later, several marble tombs appeared here. It is believed that they belong to the sheikh himself and his murids. After the death of Qasim Sheikh, this shrine became a mass grave. Abdullah ordered a room to be built next to him. This building stands out in the complex.

The completion of archaeological research related to the name of the ruler of Bukhara Abdullah (1885-1910), testifies that this emir was first buried in a brick tomb. Later, a marble-covered dakhma was built over it, on the north side of which a tombstone was preserved. During this period, the courtyard of the complex was expanded and Abdullah Hazi was built on the western side of the Qasim Sheikh Hazi. Its main gate, facing east, is located on the axis of the gate leading to Qasim Sheikh. There is a marble slab at the entrance with information about the completion of construction work in 1911. In addition to the front door, the main facade of Abdullah Hazrat has front doors to the altar and rooms. The porch of the mosque is located on the western wall in front of the emir’s dakhma.

The life and work of Qasim Sheikh, who left an indelible mark on the spiritual life of the Karman principality, was focused on good and noble deeds. In 1558, the ruler of Bukhara Abdullah II built a khanqah in Karman out of devotion to Kasim Sheikh. Qasim Sheikh himself took part and sponsored this creative work.

It took about ten years to build the khanqah. Its width and height are 25 meters. It consists of a total of 6 rooms, the largest of which is the central room with the qibla. The rest of the rooms, approximately 6×6 meters in size, are located in the corners. The upper part of each room has the shape of a dome, the interior of the building is decorated with a plaster-based pattern, in the middle, there is a large dome 12 meters high. The walls of the rooms are 80 centimeters thick. The building is decorated with a dome erected on a high tower. The tower rises about 9 meters above the roof of the building, leaving a gap between the inner and outer domes. This space allows you to maintain the same moderate temperature in hot and cold weather. The upper part of the outer side of the dome is covered with blue tiles. Below are examples of verses from the Quran written in the Kufic style.

The second khanqah was built 300 years after the khankah of Qasim Sheikh, and later a huge monumental complex was erected.

In 2001, the complex was completely renovated, and today it is valued as one of the most prosperous historical sites of the cultural heritage of the Navoi region.

The mausoleum of Sheikh Abul Hassan Nuri and the Chilustun mosque have also been built around the Chashma complex. Sheikh Abul Hasan Nuri taught the science of mysticism to the poor and considered it his rule to teach children from low-income families.

The first information about the mausoleum of Mir Said Bakhrom-ota is given in the work “Samaria” by the historian Abu Tahir Hadji Samarkandi, who lived in the 18th-19th centuries. It says that Mir Said Bahrom was a great scientist, clergyman, pious man, and even a prophet. In the play, he is referred to as a man who is respected by people for his knowledge, wisdom, and ability to perform miracles.

This architectural monument has a rectangular shape. The internal dimensions of the building are 4.4×4.4 meters. Height 7.5 meters. The roof is a simple dome. The facade of the building is decorated with geometric patterns and Kufic-style inscriptions. The two edges of the roof and the cornice are finished with fine bricks. The building is distinguished by harmonious proportions and laconic patterns. In the center is the tomb of Mir Said Bakhrom. On the roof of the mausoleum there are inscriptions “Bismillahir Rahmonir Rahim” and “Al-Jalal”.

Mir Said Bahrom and his brothers Mir Said Ohu and Mir Said Jalal came to Karmana to spread Islam. They worked there as potters. When they were born and died is unknown. Taking into account the respect of Mir Said Bakhrom in the Bukhara Khanate, a mausoleum was built for him, similar to the mausoleum of Ismail Somoni in Bukhara.

Mir Said Bakhrom was a great merchant, a master of his craft. He ferried goods along the Great Silk Road through Karmana to Afghanistan, Iran, and the rest of the Arab world.

He gained prestige by making many donations from his accumulated wealth. He also knew the basics of Islam – jurisprudence, and history. Towards the end of his life, he embarked on the path of mysticism and became a prophet, thus reaching a high level of holiness.

The Mausoleum of Mir Said Bakhrom occupies an important place in the history of Central Asian architecture. This small mausoleum was built as a living witness to history for ten centuries.

The mausoleum has been repeatedly visited by various historical expeditions. In particular, in 1934, scientists from the Zarafshan archaeological expedition conducted research. One of the participants in this expedition, archaeologist V.A. Shishkin, made schematic drawings from the exterior of the mausoleum. Unfortunately, the expedition did not conduct thorough research on this monument.

By 1942, the style of construction of the mausoleum was studied by the historian and scientist A.K. Pisarchik. Pisarchik was one of the first researchers who wrote the brochure “Monuments to Carmine”, dedicated to the monuments of Karman. Muslim pilgrims from all over the world have always considered this place sacred.

It is known that the mosque was demolished in 1960. Her image was preserved only on the drawings of one of the authors of the construction of the city of Navoi – the architect S. Selyaritsky. Several years of observations have shown that the tomb of Mir Said Bakhrom is almost identical in appearance to other important monuments. These are the Arab Ota mausoleum in the Tim village of the Samarkand region and the Samanid Mausoleum in Bukhara.

The architectural monument was repaired several times and lost its original appearance. It was last renovated in 1970, and the façade was rebuilt from baked bricks.

As one of the country’s unique cultural heritage sites, the Mirsaid Bakhrom mausoleum was included in the UNESCO list in the nomination of transboundary cultural monuments along the Great Silk Road.

The Qasim Sheikh complex. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Currently, a park of culture and recreation of the Karmaninsky region has been built around this historical complex, and it has become a tradition for the residents of Karmana to celebrate Navruz and harvest holidays in this beautiful park.

At 23 kilometers from Navoi, where caravans once passed, there are the remains of a once magnificent palace – the Rabati Malik caravanserai, which means “Tsar’s fortress”. Local residents nicknamed the remaining portal “The Gates of Bukhara” since it is located 18 km west of Karmana, not far from the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. Rabati Malik was built in the 70s of the 11th century by Shamsulmulk Nasr ibn Ibrahim (1068-1080), one of the Karakhanids, and was restored in the first quarter of the 12th century by Arslan Khan Muhammad ibn Suleiman (1102-1130), also one of the Karakhanids. It flourished until the early 18th century.

Rabati Malik. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Rabati Malik was a fortified steppe residence of the Turkic rulers from the Karakhanid dynasty, who owned the lands of Maverannahr in the 11th-12th centuries.

From the 13th century, after the Mongol conquest of Central Asia, until the beginning of the 18th century, Rabati Malik served as a caravanserai for stopping trade caravans.

The entrance portal of Rabati Malik. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Today, only the ruins of the caravanserai and the entrance portal can be seen here. For the first time, they started talking about caravanserai in the middle of the 19th century. Its appearance was restored according to the drawings of travelers, as well as according to the results of archaeological excavations of the last century when the 27-year-old naturalist A. Lehman made sketches of the monument.

Rabati Malik. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

The portal of the caravanserai is faced with bricks, forming a pattern of octahedrons and shamrocks. The perimeter of the portal arch is decorated with an epigraphic belt.

The residence included living rooms, a kitchen, a bathhouse, a mosque, and stables. Not far from the gate was Sardoba – the main source of water supply, which has survived to this day.

Rabati Malik. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Sardoba. This word is taken from the Persian language, in which “sard” means “cold” and “oba” means “water”. It is a domed pool built specifically to store water in hard-to-reach areas. The wall of the tank is cylindrical. It’s 1.5 m thick, 12-13 m in diameter and 15-18 m deep. It is made of high-quality fired bricks and clay. A door to enter the cistern is also installed. To keep the water clear, its front is surrounded by a wall. Sardoba Malik is one of the rare buildings. It is known that there are not many sardobas in Movarounnahr. Of these, 29 are in Karshi, 3 in Mirzachul, 3 in Fergana and Tashkent, and 1 in the Karmana district. It is obvious that the Malik Rabota cistern is the only source of clean water in Samarkand and Bukhara.

One 16th century writer compares the sardoba water from Malik’s Work to the delicious Zamzam water in Mecca. Like the Sardoba caravanserai, it was the destination of both individual travelers and entire caravans. The caravanserai served its original purpose until the 18th century. Amir Temur and his descendants, khans of the ruling dynasties of Bukhara, ambassadors, trade caravans, and tourists landed here. According to Hafeez Abro, Ulugbek stopped at these mines in 1420 and hunted there for 40 days. In the early 19th – early 20th centuries, a village was formed here, known as Rabot, which did not exist for a long time.

The Raboti Malik caravanserai has been the oldest and largest caravanserai in Turan for centuries. This rare monument is a striking example of folk architecture and crafts. He also witnessed many historical events, as evidenced by the writings of Arab, European, and local historians.

Rabati Malik. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Mavlono Orif Deggaroni is a historical monument that is one of the oldest in Movarounnahr. It is located in the Khazara village 30 km west of Karmana. According to sources, the period of its construction dates back to the beginning of the 11th century.

Mavlono Arif Deggaroni architectural monument. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

In ancient times, the inhabitants of this village were craftsmen in the manufacture of fire-resistant boilers. Also, the name of this place, located near the Rabati Malik caravanserai, is called Khazar – “the crossroads of a thousand roads”, which indicates that in the past it was one of the largest settlements in Central Asia, visited by trade caravans from many countries located along the Great Silk Road.

The domes of the building are a unique architectural monument in the country, as they are built on 4 massive brick columns based on very careful and accurate calculations and unique design.

The monument is now used as a mosque. Inside the building, there is a cubic room, in the center of which there are 4 brick columns with a diameter of 1.28 meters, between which there are large arches, and at the top, there are two small arches.

The central dome above these columns has been removed. Elegant brick verandas are located on the north, south, and west sides of the building. The three-door entrance on the east side of the mosque, 3.14 meters wide and 17 meters long, was later built of burnt bricks.

The architecture of the entrance dates back to the 14th century, as the bricks here are the same as the bricks that were used in the reconstruction of Raboti Malik and Sardoba in the 14th century. The monument, the only one of its kind in Movarounnahr, was renovated in 2006 and is now a popular shrine of the entire Muslim world. It is noteworthy that one of the famous Sufis Khojagon Suluki Sheikh Mavlono Orif Deggaroni (1313-1376) was born and buried in this village.

The complex has a dakhma reminiscent of his memory, an ancient healing well, and a chillaxon. It is known from historical sources that he was a great representative of Khojagon Suluki from the Naqshbandi sect.

Mavlono Arif Deggaroni architectural monument. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

In 2006-2007, large repair, landscaping, and construction works were carried out in the region, and by the decision of the Navoi region administration, the Mavlono Orif Deggaroni Historical Museum was created. Thanks to this care, the number of pilgrims and tourists visiting this paradise is increasing day by day.

Navoi region is famous for its ancient architecture and unique holy places. The magnificent architectural complex Tashmasjid was built in the village of Vangazi, Kyzyltepa region.

Tashmasjid architectural complex. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

The beautiful complex has an interesting history that is shrouded in legends. It is known that the ensemble was erected in 1583-1585 during the reign of Abdullah on the territory of the modern village of Vangazi, Kyzyltepa region. It consists of a mosque, a minaret, a madrasah, a bathhouse, and an ancient cemetery.

The presence of a cemetery, a madrasah, and a bath made it possible to conclude that the saint was buried here. There is a large courtyard in the middle of the complex. A Friday Mosque has been erected in the center. Art critics and historians suggest that this place was a major Sufi center in the 16th century. Some buildings were rebuilt and some of them were demolished.

According to the architectural style, the complex is built in the best traditions of the medieval architecture of the Bukhara oasis. This place was mentioned by the historian Badriddin Kashmir in his work “Rivzat al-Rivzon and Hadikat al-Gilman”. He wrote: “There was a Sinchli mosque in the village of Vangozi, which collapsed over time. Khoja Saad Jibari demolished the old mosque and built a new one of bricks and a high minaret next to it. ” The construction of the new mosque took six years and was completed in 1580.

Tashmasjid architectural complex. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

The building was made of baked bricks with many columns and domes. In the central part of its beautiful volumetric composition, there is a high portal and a large blue dome. The general building of the mosque has a single room with two large and sixteen small domes of the same type. The main part of the mosque faces east, and there is a high pedestal at the entrance. Shallow niches are located on both sides of the pedestal, and its top is decorated with horizontal panels with an epigraphic pattern. The four outer walls of the building have a baked brick façade.

The minaret evokes admiration, it is already visible from afar and cannot but attract attention. Its height is 24 meters, and the lower part at the base is 3.8 m, its foundation is stone. The base of the tower is decorated with a six-row embossed brick belt, and the eight-arch cage at the top is decorated with ornate ornaments in the lower and final parts. The tower was built in 1583-1586.

Tashmasjid Minaret. This photo is courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Navoi region.

Due to the uniqueness of the monument from the point of view of architecture, it is recognized that it represents the peak of the development of the majestic brick-domed monumental buildings of Central Asia.

The Vangozi Tower in the courtyard of Toshmasjid is also unique in its style. Its height is 27.5 meters. To the top of the tower, you can climb 56 round internal mulberry steps. The girth of the lower part of the tower is 8 meters, it is made of baked bricks and plaster.

In the past, there was a large road in front of the monument, which the locals called the “Emir’s road”. Because in ancient times Bukhara emirs passed from here to Karmana.

This historic site was revived and renovated in 2003.

The Toshmasjid complex is of great value not only for Central Asia but also for the entire Muslim world in terms of preserving cultural heritage and architectural art. The surrounding area is becoming one of the important places for the construction of new facilities, as well as for cultural and educational events.

In ancient times, the Nurata district was surrounded by a thick wall, which was called the “Pirosta defensive wall”.

According to Atakhan Karim Bobo Akhmedov, the ancient defensive wall consisted of three gates:

  1. Pirost gate (main gate)
  2. Gate of Work
  3. Darvozai Shodi

Herman Vamberm in his History of Bukhara says that “the gates of the city of light are open.”

Nur Shahristan is located on an area of 500×500 meters, surrounded by a separate solid wall, and is accessible through a single gate. The gates of the Nur district are called the “Gates of the Fortress” and the exit from them is directed to the middle of Pirosta, the northern defensive wall. Here one of the main gates of the city was “Darvozai Pirosta”. This ancient road is now called Ahmad Yassawi Street.

About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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