Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and Unique Uzbekistan: Surkhandaryo Region II

Everyone knows that the Surkhandaryo region is an ancient, historical land, full of archaeological mysteries and diverse in its manifestation. It is interesting to know what this earth is living with now, what constitutes the basis of its spiritual life. Locals and visitors alike have long appreciated the cultural and religious sites that serve as centers of pilgrimage for the faithful.

The sacred for Muslims mausoleum of Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi is an architectural monument and is located on the outskirts of the old city of Termez. Buried in the mausoleum is an outstanding Islamic figure, the author of various philosophical and religious works, the creator of the order of dervishes Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn Bashir al-Tirmidhi, who was also respectfully called Termez-Jta by the people, which means the father of Termez. According to legend, at the age of ten, a revelation was revealed to him – the elder who appeared to him gave him knowledge. With age, he gained fame but continued to live modestly in his parents’ house.

The Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

According to legend, Genghis Khan, amazed by this unique masterpiece of architecture, ordered his army not to destroy the monument, since he believed that it was created not by people, but by gods.

A dome rises above the mausoleum, and inside the building has a fairly luxurious decor. Attention is drawn to the tombstone of the saint, made of marble and decorated with unique patterns and Arabic inscriptions. Close to the mausoleum, there is a memorial mosque, which was added to the ensemble later.

The Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

There are several more interesting sights on the territory of the al-Tirmidhi complex: сhillyakhonаs – ancient cave structures of the 5-10th centuries, intended to wait out the summer heat, the ruins of the ancient settlement of Tarmit (Old Termez) and the museum of the city of Termez.

A unique architectural monument is located 3 km from Termez on the banks of the Surkhandaryo River. This is the family tomb of the representatives of the ancient “Sayyid” clan – the Sultan -Saodat memorial complex. Translated from Arabic, this name means “the rule of the Sayyid”. The Sayyids of Termez are considered to be the direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, therefore this family was deeply revered in the Muslim world for a long time. The Seid dynasty was founded by the grandson of the prophet Hasan-al-Emir.

The Sultan Saodat complex. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

According to scientists, the first building of the Sultan Saodat complex was built in the 13th century. This was the first tomb of the Caliph. A little later, the city of Madinat ar-Ridzhal, built by the inhabitants of the destroyed Termez, arose on this place. The entire complex is formed by religious buildings from different eras.

The architectural complex is 70 meters long. The narrow courtyard housed about 150 structures. Only a small part has survived till today. Initially, the ensemble included a mosque and a mausoleum covered with domes and connected by an iwan in the form of a vaulted vestibule.

The facade of the main building is made of baked bricks. Particularly striking is the unique stone laying in the form of flowers, rhombuses, and other shapes. Today, only the surviving rectangular gravestones have been preserved in the mausoleum.

The Sultan Saodat complex. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

The main mosque was also a burial place. Its interior is decorated with elegantly laid tiles and glaze with gold inserts. In the inner walls of the mosque, engraved lines from the holy Quran were found.

The complex has been reconstructed several times. For the first time in the XIV-XV centuries, the original appearance of the building was restored. The old decor was collected and the inscription was engraved which is now one of the earliest written records of the genealogy of the Termez Sayyids.

Also at that time, a veranda and a khanqah, the abode of dervishes, were added to the western side of the complex. Subsequently, judging by the number of hearths, the khanqah premises were used as a kitchen.

Another restoration was carried out in the 19th century. It was organized by a local sheikh, who was the guardian of the ensemble and a direct descendant of the Sayyids.

The Dhu al-Kifl mausoleum is another architectural monument near Termez, dating back to the 11-12 centuries AD, an interesting and unique pilgrimage site for many Muslims from all over the world for a long time. According to legend, one of the 25 prophets mentioned in the Holy Quran is buried here.

The Dhu al-Kifl mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

Prophet Dhu al-Kifl, who lived in the 7-6th centuries AD, was considered a famous person in the region. For the first time about the burial place of the prophet was mentioned in the famous work of the Balkh scientist and philosopher of the 17th century Mahmud ibn Wali “The Sea of ​​Secrets”. It tells about the meeting of the great prophet with the outstanding thinker Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi.

According to an ancient legend, who lived on the opposite bank of the Amu Darya, the holy man bequeathed to his disciples-murids: “When I die, lower my body and tobut (stretcher) into the Amu Darya. Where my tobut stops, bury me there. ” The disciples fulfilled his will, dipped the tobut into the river. No matter how fleeting the Amu Darya was, by the will of Allah, the tobut swam against the current. Surprised by this, the murids began to follow the teacher along the river. After approaching the island formed at the place where the Amu Darya was divided into two parts, the tobut stopped. The students complied with the request of their teacher. After the tobut was buried on this islet, the locals called it the Island of the Prophet.

Located in the southern part of the Aral-Paygambar reserve on the banks of the Amu Darya, the mausoleum is made in the form of a small ensemble and consists of a large mosque with a dome, a small chapel adjacent to the southern bank, and two rooms adjacent to the western side.

The mosque is decorated in the national style with a dome and a portal. The mihrab is decorated with carved ganch patterns in the girih style.

The stunning nature of the protected area and the mysterious history of the island attract many travelers from all over the world. Feel the breath of history, washed by the currents of the noisy Amu Darya, visit this unique place on the southern border of Uzbekistan, and you will understand that not everything in the world is consigned to oblivion.

In the Surkhandaryo region, in the village of Vakhshivar, there is a mausoleum of the eastern thinker and statesman Khoja Mavlonoi Zakhid.

The Khoja Mavlonoi Zakhid mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

Mavlonoi Zakhid lived in the second half of the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries on the territory of the Surkhandaryo region, in the small village of Vakhshivar, present-day Altynsay district. The family of the great sheikh and scientist goes back to the contemporary of Mirza Ulugh Beg, the famous mudarris and scientist Khoja Muhammad Balkhi.

The Khoja Mavlonoi Zakhid mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

During the reign of Mirza Ulugh Beg, Khoja Muhammad Balkhi served in one of the madrasahs of Samarkand and was a philosopher and writer. Fearing persecution, the venerable mudarris left Samarkand, like other scientists, after the murder of Ulugh Begby his son Abdullatif. He settled with his family and close relatives in the village of Vakhshivar, on the slopes of the picturesque mountains.

His son was Khoja Muhammad Ibrahim, and the son of Khoja Muhammad Ibrahim was Khoja Mavlonoi Zaלhid.

Little information has been preserved about the life and work of Khoja Mavlanoi Zakhid, but it is known that he was a person with deep knowledge and a broad outlook. And also Khoja Mavlonoi Zakhid possessed the gift of prediction. They say that he foresaw the visit of the Sufi Olloyer, who in 1710 moved to the wild steppe, and when Khoja Mavlonoi reached the village of Tokhtamysh, he met him there.

The Khoja Mavlonoi Zakhid mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

Khoja Mavlonai Zahid wrote many scientific works, but to this day only one has survived – “Tajvizi Turki”. This work reflects the rules of reading the Holy Quran, methods of reading in Turkic, pronunciation, and spelling. Pronunciation rules for 29 letters of the Arabic alphabet are also indicated here.

The Kokildor Ota Khanqah is located in Termez and was built in the middle of the 11th century. This building is a holy abode that has become especially revered in the Muslim world. The Khanqah is distinguished by its unusual layout and architecture. Researchers believe that the building was rebuilt in the 15th century: a majestic portal was added to the front open facade.

The Kokildor Ota Khanqah. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

The famous Jarkurgan Minaret is located in the village of Minor, located between Kumkurgan and Termez. It was built in 1109 by order of Sultan Sanjar. Now its height is more than twenty meters, but at the time of construction, it reached forty-three. Looking at the tower it is impossible to take your eyes off the decoration. Artfully crafted herringbone masonry creates a weaving effect. And when you stand under the minaret, one gets the impression that the masonry is not brick at all, but fabric. The tower consists of sixteen half-columns, which are adjacent to each other.

The Jarkurgan Minaret. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

On the southwestern spur of the Hissar ridge, in the Surkhandarya region, there is the world-famous Baysuntau ridge, which attracts adventure lovers with huge caves, deep canyons, and alpine meadows. By the way, it is here that huge fossil footprints of dinosaurs were found and the notorious Teshik-Tash cave is located, where the burial of a Neanderthal boy was discovered in the last century.

Baysuntau
Baysuntau. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

After crossing the hot steppes of Baysuntau, you find yourself in the settlements, the names of which are just like magic: Kofirun, Derbend, Padang, Rabat. Walnut groves give way to juniper forests, alpine meadows delight the eye with their bright greenery, spreading like a carpet along the slopes. The crystal water of the rivers breathes life into all life around. Locals cultivate the land in the old way – drawn by horses and plows.

In the houses here you can see handmade carpets and bright suzani, and the clothes and shoes of local residents are decorated with various embroidered ornaments. Almost all houses have a tandoor – an oven in which bread is baked. Everything in this region is done by hand. Master blacksmiths are renowned for their skills.

Baysun. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Surkhandaryo Region Tourism and Sports Department.

All significant events here are accompanied by ceremonies and rituals, in which you can see the echoes of paganism. It was here, on the basis of a folk song, that the legend “Alpamysh” was born. The traditions of the local people are unique. All this is not a fairy tale or a fantasy – this is the town of Baysun.

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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