Sightseeing in Termez

Sightseeing in Termez

Most visited place for history lovers and archeologists is place Fayaz Tepe. Fayaz Tepe is located two kilometers north of the Imam Termezi mausoleum and it consists of the archaeological remains of a two-millenniums old Buddhist temple and monastery complex, whose impact is perhaps more intellectual than visual. The large central courtyard, the heart of the Buddhist temple, is flanked to the west by the main living quarters of the monastery and to the east by the main refectory. The brick stupa to the north of the temple dates from the first century ВС and is only the inner section of a much larger construction that rose from the cross shaped foundations. Clay and gypsum statues of Buddha, a series of murals depicting various adorants in Kushan dress and fragments of pottery containing Brahmi, Punjabi, Kharoshti and Bactrian scripts have all been found on the site, underlining its essentially Eastern orientation. Remains have also been discovered of a two-kilometre aqueduct that supplied the monastery with water from the Amu Darya. UNESCO and the Japanese government plan to connect Kara and Fayaz Tepe with a road, shore up their walls and build a visitor centre, handicrafts shop and display of Kushan architecture.
The monastery was looted in the 5th century by Sassanid troops and later used as a burial ground and retreat for Sufic mystics of a rather different religious persuasion.
The trio of Buddhist archaeological memorabilia is completed by the sixteen metre high Zurmala Tower, situated three kilometres southeast of Old Termez and visible from l he main M-39. This sixteen-metre-high brick tower is the remnant of the largest Ikiddhist stupa in the area and is possibly the oldest construction still standing in Uzbekistan. Back in the third and fourth centuries AD, at the height of Buddhist influence, the base of the stupa would have been covered with white limestone slabs below red brick decoration and would have housed a collection of sacred Buddhist relics.

Sufi Abu Abdullah Mohammed ibn Ali al Termezi, nicknamed ‘al Hakkim’ (the wise), was a ninth century Sufic, jurist, mystic and author who lived and received his pupils in Old Termez. After an education in Balkh and a hajj to Mecca at the tender age of 27, Termezi began to write his theories on the terminology for sainthood; the very titles which he himself would soon enjoy. Upon his death in 869 AD, he was buried where he had worked and in the ensuing centuries a mausoleum (10th century), mosque (12th century) and Timurid khanagha (15th century) grew up around his name. The impressive carved marble sunduk Bronze age rock carvings, Sarmyshtombstone chronicles the life of the saint and was added to the complex in the early fifteenth century by Tamerlane’s son Shakh Rukh. The theft of the missing section of the tomb is attributed to British archeologists, accused of having seconded the marble back to the British Museum at the turn of the century. The building provided a point of focus for local philosophers and thinkers, a place where holy men could provide counsel, and broke with the khanagha’s more customary role of providing dervish living accommodation. Between the mausoleum and the Oxus are the archaeological remains of the old port of Termez, which include the wharf, customs house and port hotel. West of the site is the large island that gave Termez so much of its strategic and commercial importance. Originally named after the Arab leader Uthman, who led his attack of the city from here. The island is also the exotic but forbidden location of the 12th century Zul Kifl Mausoleum.

Sultan Saodat – cult-memorial complex formed during the XII-XVII century in burials influential dynasty of Termez Sayyids.In Arabic language Sultan Saodat means “Seyidov Dominion.” This complex is one of the important religious places in Surkhandarya. It consists of a number of iconic buildings that were added at different times: the mausoleums, mosques and khanaka grouped around the perimeter of the yard 70 m long, stretching from west to east. The original buildings were two mausoleums, combined deep vaulted iwan, which the XV century. played the role of a memorial mosque: its end wall is the mihrab.

Sultan Saodat Ensemble covers about 4 acres and includes 143 buildings. The very first tomb on the northern edge of the complex, dated XI century. Portal square building, topped by a huge dome, rises to fifteen meters and is the highest part of the ensemble. Even in ancient times the mausoleum was decorated with glazed tiles, the color brightness and fine workmanship is quite comparable with the Samarkand samples. Its dome supported by arches and pedantries, lined with burnt bricks in the “Christmas tree.” The interior of the northern facade of the building, a series of large and small niche with corner columns – a technique which became typical of other similar monuments of this era. Another ancient building complex – South mausoleum – built a little later, at the end of XI – beginning of the XII century. By this time that the well-preserved quince mosque. Originally, this place was chosen as the necropolis for the emirs, and then began to be the tombs of members of the royal family for their taste and possibilities. The most later building – the entrance portal, closing eastern facade, was built at the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries.

Jarkurgan Minaret is situated in the village of Minor (Kommunizm Kolkhoz), seven kilometres from the pleasant town of Jarkurgan and 38 kilometres (24 miles) from Termez, this unique minaret can be visited as a day trip from Termez or as a stopover on the way to Denau. Either way, it is well worth the visit. The main trunk of the minaret is composed of 16 herringboned crimps or semicolumns, reminiscent of traditional castle architecture, which continue through a band of sixteen arches and foliated Kufic, Koranic inscriptions to suggest that the minaret was double or even triple linked and that the present 22-metre (72-foot) construction originally reached a estimated height over 50 metres (165 feet).Considerable skill must have gone into applying the herringbone brickwork, set not only in curved ribs, but also in ever-decreasing diameters in order to narrow the minaret. A vertical inscription given pride of place on one of the ribs names the architect as one Ali ibn Mohammed of Serakhs (in modern-day Turkmenistan), while another dates the construction to 1108-1109 AD and the rule of Sultan Sanjar.The pleasant village of Jarkurgan is refreshed by the waters of the Surkhan River and has a traditional Sunday market.

Derbent, Baisun, Sirab and Shirabad

Pass through the Iron Gates and one approaches a triangle of secluded mountain villages offering access to the isolated mountains and river gorges beyond. The geology of the area lies open for all to see and is ripe for exploration. Derbent (Derband) is the first of the three towns to be reached from the west and nestles at the foot of a large cliff just off the main M-39. The town marks the gateway to the Machai River gorge and cave complexes, the archa juniper forests and remote Tajik valleys beyond. There are even said to be mummified bear remains in the Berloga caves. These Tajik regions should have re-opened: the Gissar range of the Pamir-Alay, the upper Tupolang and Sangardan rivers (Surkhandarya), Kyzyldarya, Tankhizydarya, Aksu and Djindydarya (Kashkadarya).A Wild West town with teahouses, Baisun (Boysun) is the largest settlement in the triangle and the only one to boast an official hotel. Besides its unique skullcaps and other embroidery, the main attractions are again natural and the Gur Gur Ata massif and Ketmanchapt Mountains, which tower above the town, attract walkers from the whole oblast. The village goes crazy on the first moon in May during the UNESCO-sponsored Baisun (Boysun Buhori) cultural festival in May that includes fashion shows, dance and folk music ensembles from over Central Asia, performed in the town arena. Yurt accommodation is set up at this time. UNESCO recently declared Baisun to be on its list of the ’28 Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’.The town has a handicraft, centre and local museum. Twenty-minutes’ drive outside town is the hollow tree of Alpamysh; the village is said to be the homeplace of the Uzbek epic of the same name. Outside town is the Amonkhana mineral spring.For the day-tripper, however, the most picturesque of the three is the village of Sairob (Sayrob). The small village spills over the narrow valley, sheltered to the west by a deeply etched mountain ridge and to the east by a splintered spine of rock which curls , protectively around the town in a giant paternal embrace. Layers of stone cottages tumble down from the hills, separated by bands of deep, earthy reds and whitewashed walls to make the area reminiscent both physically and culturally of Turkey’s mountain hinterland. The two chinor trees in the centre of town are also its greatest pride and joy, each said to be over 1,000 years old.From Sairob the M-39 follows ancient paths down to Shirabad and the Oxus. The town of Shirabad marks the last echoes of the fading Hisor range as the hills finally cede to the hot and arid plains of the southern border. The Kungrat emir, Shir Ali, is said to have founded the modern town and its royal connection was continued by many subsequent emirs of Bukhara, who were wont to use the local beg’s palace as a summer residence. Even the last emir, Alim Khan, stopped here to catch his breath as he fled the Bolsheviks en route to Afghanistan in 1920. Today, however, all that remains is the stepped kurgan upon which the fortress once stood.

The two pilgrimage sites of Hazrati Akhtam Mara and Suleiman Ata ride the crest of the Shirabad ridge, which overshadows the town. Of greater historical and religious importance, however, is the Mausoleum of Khoja Abu Isa Mohammed Imam Termezi, one of the seven collectors of the Hadiths, or Traditions, situated some six kilometres (4 miles) out of town on the road to Denau. Originally from Merv, Isa divided his youth between Shirabad and the religious centre of Termez before embarking on a 30-year itinerant search for wisdom that would take him to Khorasan, Merv and Medina. He eventually returned to found a madrassah in Shirabad and to collate the many Hadiths that he had collected in the course of his wanderings. The Hadith is a varied collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Mohammed s.a.w. which form the second holiest book of Islam, after the Koran.The rather austere 20-metre (65-foot) long building consists of two prayer chambers and the tomb itself and is attended by a gracious and timeless imam.