Termez- center of Surkhandarya province ,located in the southern part of Uzbekistan, very close to Afghanistan. It is one of the driest and hottest points of the country. Date of the founding of the city of Old Termez is not clear, but some of historians give more than 3000 years, officially there was a celebration of 2500years few years back. In the 6th century BC Achaemenids already called the city as the ancient city. In 329 BC Alexander the Great conquered Termez. After the collapse of his Empire, one of his colonels founded a Greco-Bactrian kingdom named Demetrius city. As part of the Kushan Empire in the 1st to 3rd century BC the city was called Ta-li-mi, in the Chinese Tu-mi or Tami. During this period, the city became an important center of Buddhism. Same time it was one of the main trade points of The Great Silk Road. In the 5th and 6th centuries the city was ruled by Hephthalites – white Huns. In the 7th century the city was independently ruled by local aristocracy. In 705 the city was captured by the Arabs and it became one of centers of Islam during the Abbasids and Samanids Empire. From the 9ththrough the 12th centuries Termez was a big city and a cultural center of the region. It was popular for shopping and crafts. At this time the length of the fortifications of the city was 10 miles, there were nine gates. During this period Termez was a part of the Ghaznavids, Seljuks and Karakhanids. In 1206 the town became part of the state Khorezmshahs. And in 1220 after a two-day siege, the city was destroyed by the Horde of Genghis Khan. In the second half of the 13th century Termez was restored to the east, on the right bank of Surkhandarya River, it was part of the Timurid Empire, after the collapse Shaybanids. By the second half of the 18th century the city was abandoned. Only few villages around were populated and existing separately.
In January 1893 the emirate of Bukhara gave the land of the village Pattakesar to Russian government to build a Russian fortress and garrison and, a military border fortification, where the Amu Darya river port was built. In 1928 already being part of the Soviet Union, Pattakesar was renamed and took the city's ancient name Termez. In 1929, the village became a town. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979–89), Termez was an important military base, a military airfield and a road-rail bridge across the Amu Darya ("Bridge of Friendship") were built. Even today Termez is an advanced post bordering with Afghanistan.
Sightseeing of Termez
Al Hakim At Termiziy Complex
The complex of Hakim at-Termizi, the scholar and sheikh, living in the 10th century A.D. who found recognition for theological knowledge, later he was recognized as a spiritual patron of Termez (Termez-ata). His father Ali bin Hassan was a leading scholar, a Hadith specialist, who, looking for knowledge, went to Baghdad and took an active part in scientific discussions with prominent scholars of the time on various problems of Hadith. His mother and uncle were considered to be experts of Hadith. Consequently Al Hakim At-Termizi grew up in the circle of educated and scientific people, which influenced greatly on his ideology. In 1091-1095 A.D. the governor of Maverannahr Ahmad ibn Hizr from Karakhanids ordered to build Mausoleum, interior was covered with rich carved plaster. Geometrical and styled vegetative motifs combined with epigraphic inscriptions in Kufic. Later, in the north the mosque with mikhrab was built up. Carved plaster covers the walls of the mosque that by style was very close to plaster decor of the 12th century performed in the palace of Termez governors. In 1389-90 to the east from the grave of at-Termizi a new mausoleum and underground chillya-khana (meditation room) were built. In the 15th century in the mausoleum magnificent carved gravestone of marble and monumental two-portal khanaka with big dome were installed. The architectural complex during centuries attracted pilgrims arriving from different parts of Muslim world.
Kirk Kiz Fortress
Kirk-Kiz means "Fourty Girls", it is located outside of the medieval Termez, and connected with the dynasty of Samanids. It was a summer residence of a royal dynasty. Kirk-Kiz presents an example of the monumental forms in architecture; the building has strict centralized composition. It is square in the plan (54x54 m), and is crosswise cut along axes by arched corridors, which led to central square courtyard (11,5х11,5 m) with deep arched eyvans on axes, from where one can enter numerous rooms. They settled down in two floors in four sectors of the building. A total number of premises in Kirk-Kiz reached one and half hundred: there were rectangular rooms, corridors and a big hall, probably, living room. Round towers flanked the building. The walls were plastered with clay; yellowish colour of Central Asian clay is dominant here. In interiors of Kirk-Kiz amazes a variety of arched systems. The interior decor is rather poor by details. The architectural rhythm of windows and niches worked out as various figured arches became a basic element of interior. For Kirk-Kiz typical is the combination of old pre-Islamic traditions and innovations, caused by tastes and needs of another epoch - isolation of a composition, ascetically simple surface of the walls, plastered with clay, remind the early medieval castles. But the elements of fortification were reduced, and four free entrances, numerous windows in different levels were not coordinated with defensive purposes. So Kirk-Kiz was a large feudal estate of a palace type belonging to the reigning dynasty.
Sultan Saodat Complex (Necropolis)
Sultan Saodat is located in the outskirt of modern Termez, in Uzbekistan. The name Sultan Saodat means "His Excellency Sultan or Sultan’s well-being" in Arabic. The complex was formed between the 11th and 17th centuries, has the graves of the influential Sayyid dynasty of Termez. Sultan Saodat complex is a series of multi-religious structures - mausoleums, mosques, khanaka - built on the perimeter of the yard and the elongated constituted a coherent and concise composition. The oldest here are two large single-chambers, square, domed mausoleum (10th–11th centuries), located in the south-western part of the complex. They are united by the intervening deep vaulted "ayvan" (gallery), which at the turn of the 14th–15th centuries was added in height and faced multicolored glazed decoration. Buildings of the comlex in different ways repeated the idea of this ancient group of buildings, detailed three-part frontal facade open ayvan in the center. Emphasized the unity of the structure burnt bricks, which also served as a constructive and decorative material (masonry "in the tree," the curly ribbon carved blocks, geometric and floral motifs insertion and belts from figure hewn blocks). Both mausoleums crowded headstones, some remnants of tiled decor.
In the second half of the 15th century ahead of both mausoleums two new buildings were built. Two parallel rows were built in the 15th–17th centuries and joined with the other buildings. Also, some new mausoleums were also pairwise connected with intermediate ayvan, decor on them is not preserved. In the 16th–17th centuries courtyards to the south and the north were built up with mausoleums of different sizes and from different eras. The entrance was set up on the west side of the yard. The majestic ensemble stands out as a group of mausoleums, homogeneous in structure and decoration, though built in different styles.In the 19th century, buildings in the complex were gradually destroyed and blighted. The complex of Sultan Saodat went through restoration work in 2005 and became one of the highlights for pilgrims and visitors.
Termez Archeological Museum
The Archeological Museum in Termez was founded in 2001 on the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, in honor of 2500thanniversary of Termez city. It is a unique specialized museum in Central Asia, which consists of the entrance hall, 9 major halls and galleries.
Termez Archaeological Museum was opened for visitors in 2002. In the entrance hall of the museum you can see the unique statues made of stone and plaster, ceramic vessels, stone pool and a map of the area with 20 archeological sites date to different period of history. There are exhibits found during the excavations in Surkhandarya region, stone tools of primitive man and works of art made by the hands of skilled masters.
Today, the fund of the museum includes more than 27,000 antiques, consisting of painting collection, sculptures, numismatics, archeology, photos etc. There are more than 16,000 unique books as well as manuscripts and lithographic editions in Persian, Arabic and European languages.
The museum has the following academic departments:
- Department of the Hellenistic period and ancient Bactria.
- Department of the Stone Age and Bronze Age.
- Department of Kushan culture of northern Bactria.
- Department of the High Middle Ages
- Department of Early Middle Ages of North Tokharistan.
- Department of the khanate epoch.
- Department of numismatics.
Fayyaz Tepa Complex is situated at 4 km's distance from Termez. It is irregular rectangle consisting from several buildings: monastery, refectory and big stupa. There are images of two Buddha on the left side of the entry. You can also see a lot of fragments of clay sculptures and sitting Buddha with two monks on the floor.
The monastery complex consists of 13 rooms and courtyard with ayvan. The refectory was attached to the monastery on the left side. There are hearths for cooking in some of them, as well as skulls with inscriptions in Brahmi, Bactrian and other ancient languages. There also were found coins of Geliokl, Kanishka etc. In IV century was captured by Sasanid army that’s why it stopped functioning.
It is important to note that the complex was named after the director of Surhandarya local history museum, R.F. Fayazov who participated in excavations of Buddha complex. According to archeological excavations, we know that monks used to live in the monastery as well as they provided accommodation for pilgrims. Today, Buddha complex Fayaz-Tepa is one of the museums in the open air and under guard of UNESCO.
To the southeast of the ancient site of Old Termez, surrounded by agricultural land, rises the remains of what is called Zurmala Tower. In 1926 Soviet archaeologists suggested it must have been a Buddhist stupa and a thorough exploration carried out 50 years later proved that it was a cult structure dating back to the golden age of the Kushan Kingdom.
Although the tower has suffered over the centuries, it still makes a strong impression. Scientists estimate that almost 1,200,000 bricks were needed for construction of the stupa. In the upper part of the windowless monolith adobe brick structure there is a small chamber for relics.
The tower stood on a base 22 x11 metres in area. Its sides were perfectly aligned with the four cardinal points of the compass. It is not known yet whether the stupa was a part of a temple complex or just a lonely structure.
Kara Tepa is one of the world’s oldest surviving Buddhist cave monasteries. The first archaeological excavations took place there in 1936 and archaeologists discovered three tiers of rock-hewn cells for monks. The excavations revealed a clearly visible layout of the ancient structures. In the underground chambers archaeologists found fragments of statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas, statuettes of dragons and of a winged lion, as well as wall paintings with one of the world’s oldest images of Buddha surrounded by monks. On the same walls there are portraits of donors, who were rich enough to order the construction of the temple. In the cells ceramic lamps, reliquary boxes, coins of the times of Kanishka I and the Sassanid rulers were found. The Kara Tepa complex also had a dormitory where pilgrims could take shelter. The walls of this dormitory still bear a surviving graffiti drawing of a Buddhist stupa.
Over the last ten years Uzbek and Japanese experts have conducted joint archaeological research at Kara Tepa. Because Kara Tepa lies in international no-man's-land (Afghanistan lies just across the Oxus), special permission must be obtained to visit. At last one month's notice is required, and permission is not guaranteed.
Jarkurgan Minaret was built in 1109 by the order of Sultan San-jara, located in the village Minor (seven kilometer from the city Djarkurgan), its height is more than 21 meters and a diameter is 5.4 metres.
The decoration of the minaret is not mosaic of colored tiles but masonry on ganch solution. The design is notable for that the tower consists of 16 half-columns in the shape of a flower or a star. According to researchers, originally the height of the tower was much more, there also was a second link, topped with a lantern.
Minaret Djarkurgan was part of the large mosque, made of burnt brick. Its main function was to call people to the mosque for prayers. Later, the upper part of the minaret and the remains of the mosque were demolished on the bricks. According to the figure, the minaret and the mosque were separated from each other. There is an inscription on one of the rectangles of the minaret, which tells the name of the builder - the great architect Ali ibn Muhammad Sarahs.
The figure in masonry form “firtree” creates a feeling of softness and elegance that gives a rich decorative construction. Today minaret Djarkurgan, ike other minarets, is one of the oldest and most beautiful mosques in Central Asia.