Friday, October 16, 2009

Neighbouring Region of Karakalpakstan - Bukhara

"The Kalayan Mosque at night"

THE BUKAHRA REGION

Situated in the south-west of Uzbekistan the Bukhara Region has a total area of 39 400 sq km supporting a population of 13 84700 people, 68% (rural). The Kizil-Kum desert occupies a large part of the region. The climate is continental and arid. There are 11 administrative districts the capital the City of Bukhara, with 263 400 people. Other centres are the towns of Gidlduvan, Romitan, and Kagan.

The region is the traditional centre of Uzbekistan's oil and gas industry and has rich Mineral resources including graphite, marble, granite, gypsum, sulphur and limestone. It is also a centre for cotton and the production of textiles and also has other light industry. The main agricultural products are cotton and cereals, karakul lambs and sericulture (silk). Bukhara is also known for producing astrakhan rugs with the only factory in Uzbekistan.

One of the most ancient cities of the East Bukhara sits at the crossroads of two ancient trade routes and was a large commercial centre on the Great Silk Road and like Khiva it is famous as an open air museum.


"Poi-Kalon (Minaret) - Bukhara"

Bukhara celebrated its 2,500-year anniversary in 1997; legend connects the appearance of the city with the name of one of the deities of the Zoroastrian pantheon; Siyavush. At different times the city had been known under different names: Numizkat, Madinat-as Sufia, Fakhirs, Vikhara (the latter in Sanskrit means “monastery”).

In the 9th century Bukhara became the capital of the powerful Samanid state.It was during its period as the capital of the Saminid state in the 9th and 10th centuries that Bukhoro – i- sharif (Nobel Bukhara), blossomed as a religious and cultural mecca. Among those nurtured here were the philosopher scientist Abu Ali Ibn Sino (Avicenna after whom the word medicine is derived) and the poets Firdausi and Rudaki still figures of great stature in the Persian and Islamic world. The famous doctor and philosopher Avicenna spent his childhood here, the poet Rudaki composed his verses here and medieval historian and poet Firdausi lived here, too.

Bukhara’s library was glorified for its wealth of manuscripts written in Greek, Arab, Persian, Chinese and other languages. In the Middle Ages Bukhara had become one of the core religious centres of Asia: numerous mosques and madrasahs were constructed. In 18th century Bukhara became the centre of the Bukhara Emirate which existed up until the beginning of the 20th century. Today Bukhara is an administrative centre of Bukhara Province. The city has a population of 250,000 peoples.

Bukhara has preserved its history well and is visited by tourists from all over the world. Afterwards came the smaller Karahhanid and Karakitay dynasties however and Bukhara was badly damaged in 1220 when it was attacked by Genghis Khan and by 1370 it fell under the shadow of Timur’s Samarkand.

It is also considered to be a place of glory in the Muslim world; since it nurtured the author of the second most important Islamic book after Koran, the book of authentic hadiths, "Al-jami as sahih" known as the Imam Al-Bukhari and is the burial place of Nakshbandi- the founder of Sufism and the author of religious warrant "Nakshbandi". Both make Bukhara an important place of pilgrimage.

Those who visit Bukhara, will likely see strange "shaggy hats" on the top of the minarets. These are storks` nests. The “white bird of hope” serves as the city's symbol, a symbol of its firmness and stability. More than once throughout its history this rich city suffered invasion. The most devastating that of Mongols, but each time Bukhara revived; and what is more, it always revived on the same place unlike the neighbouring capital of Khiva that kept on moving to new locations.

The most ancient part of Bukhara is its citadel , the Ark, where archaeologists excavated finds dating back to the 4th -3rd century B.C. It is a twenty meter high artificial mound, at the top of the entrance ramp is the 17th century Juma (Friday) Mosque. The Ark now houses a museum on the city’s history, and the Zindan (emir’s palace) is now a big tourist attraction, showcasing his harem, treasury and such skin-crawling rooms as the Bug Pit, a torture chamber and the dungeons built initially during the 11th - 12th centuries and rebuilt after the Mongol invasions.

Outside the fort is the Registan once famous as an execution ground. It has witnessed some brutal executions; in its time perhaps the most infamous being the killings of British officers Col. Charles Stoddart and Capt. Arthur Connolly in 1842. Victims of a misunderstanding between the Emir of Bukhara and the British government (which failed to supply its emissaries with the appropriate gifts and royal letters of introduction), the two were imprisoned in the Bug Pit at the Zindan , then forced to dig their own graves before their ceremonial beheading in front of the Ark (the Emir’s palace).

The highest point in the city is the grandiose Kalyan (“Great”) Minaret built in 1127,towering 47 meters over the city is the greatest remnant of truly old Bukhara; Genghis Khan who destroyed most of the city, left the minaret standing, supposedly because he was struck by its beauty. The minaret, which draws visitors up its 105 steps to see a panoramic view of the city, was once the tallest structure in Central Asia. It has been called the “Tower of Death,” because, legend has it, executions were often performed by throwing the condemned from its heights.

Slightly narrowing at the top, its round tower it is the tallest minaret in Central Asia From top to bottom it is trimmed with a relief design constructed of blue glazed tiles. The ornamented bands ringing the minaret emphasizing its size and upward direction. At the same time, the diversity and rhythm of ornamental motifs enriching what is a rather simple and clear architectural form.

At the foot of the minaret connected by vaulted galleries is the famous is the “Poi Kalyan” ensemble. Opposite the mosque, its luminous blue domes in sharp contrast to the surrounding brown is the still functioning Miri-Arab madrasah built at the beginning of the 16th century it is amongst the most striking in the whole of Central Asia.

One of the oldest monuments of Bukhara is Ismail Samani mausoleum built at the beginning of the 10th century by the founder of the Samanid dynasty. The mausoleum is a perfect brick cube covered with a hemispherical cupola. This mausoleum of the samanids emirs with its beautiful decorative elements was the first major buildings in Central Asia to be built of fired bricks.

Nearby is the Chasma (city springs) of Ayub mazar that date back to the 12th century. According to the legend, the biblical prophet Ayub was once passing this waterless part of Bukhara, stabbed the ground with his stick and instantly there appeared a source with clear healing water. These artificial pools “hauzes” were not only for practical use (water and to cool the populous) but also to decorate the city.

In Bukhara at one time there were more than eighty pools. The most famous one is Lyabi-Hauz, which is surrounded by a plaza with cafes where people gather to eat, smoke and talk throughout the day. On the east side of the Lyabi-Hauz plaza is a statue of the wise fool Khodja Nasreddin (created by the folklorists Dakiki who also hailed from Bukhara) who appears in sunni teaching tales throughout the islamic world. Further east is the Nadir Divanbegi Madressa (1622) and to the west of the square the Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka. North is the Madrassah of Kulbaba-Kukedash (1568/1569) once the largest centre for religious studies in Central Asia.

Bukhara is not only famous for its mosques and madrasahs, mausoleums but also for its caravan-sarays, baths and multi domed bazzars which have been preserved and are still used as the main market. The bazzar includes the Taki-Zargaron ("the Dome of Jewellers"), the Telpak-Furushon ("The dome of cap makers") and the Taki-Saraffon ("The Money exchange").

Other important historical and architectural monuments of Bukhara:

* Ensemble of Bola Hauz, (early 18th - 20th centuries)
* Mausoleum of Samani, (9th - 10th centuries)
* Mazar of Chashmoi-Ayub, (1380 or 1384/1385)
* Madrasah of Abdulla Khan, (1596/1598)
* Madrasah of Madari Khan, (1556/1557)
* Mosque of Baland, (early 16th century)
* Ensemble of Gaukushon, (16th century)
* Khonaka of Zaynutdin Khoji, (1555)
* Khanaka of Nodir Divanbegi, (1620)
* Madrasah of Ulugbek, (1417)
* Madrasah of Abdulaziz Khan, (1652)
* Mosque of Bola Hauz, (1712)
* Mausoleum of Sayfiddin Boharziy, (2nd half of 13th - 14th centuries)
* Mausoleum of Buyon Kuli Khan, (2nd half of 14th, 15th or 16th c.)
* Mosques of Namazgoh, (12th - 16th century)
* Khanaka of Fayzabad, (1598/1599)
* Madrasah of Chor-minor, (1807)
* Chor-Bakr - The burial place of Jubayri Sheik's family, (1560/1563)

Outside of the city is

* The Summer Palace of Bukhara Emir Sitorai Mokhi Hosa, (late 19th century).
* The Holy Complex of Bahautdin Nakshbandi - includes the burial tomb of Nakshbandi
(1318-98)- the founder of the most influential Sufisi order and the author of religious warrant "Nakshbandi". One of the most holy places in the Muslim world.

Other places of interest in Bukhara Province are the Vardanzi and Kyzylkum Nature Reserves both established in the 1970ies to protect the rare Bukharin deer. Also found in the parks are the amudarian fasan, steppe cat, jackal, antelopes, wolves, various species of snakes and rodents.

A description of the main attractions:

1. Citadel Ark (VII - XX Centuries) - most ancient of all the Bukhara’s architectural monuments. Built on the place of a more ancient original fortress, Ark has seen multiple reconstructions and served as a residence for Bukharian rulers. The Citadel covers an area of about 35,000 sq. m. Mint and jeweller workshop, Vasir`s (minister) offices, jail, warehouses, small emir’s mosque, harem - all situated in the Citadel. Today Ark has number of museums: History Museum, Philately Museum and an Ethnography Museum.

2. One of the most famous architectual masterpieces is the Samanid Mausoleum (9th to 10th Centuries) - Family burial-vault of the Bukharian Samanid governors, one of the earliest known monuments of burnt brick built at the territory of Uzbekistan and perfectly preserved to our days. Architecture of the monument amazes by its harmonious simplicity, proportionality and singularity. The monument does not have any external plastering or tiling, instead, the builders were using just bricks positioning in such a way that to create unbelievably unique patterns, which change their look as the day progresses depending on the light intensity from deep shadows to a light and transparent lace.

3. Poi-Kalyan Complex including a cathedral mosque Kalyan (15th century) and the almost 50-metre tower of Kalyan minaret rises in all its splendour over the city
minaret Kalyan (1127). The facade of the mosque is decorated by glazed bricks, and the domes and the arches - by the superbly restored mosaic tiling intricately composed in inimitable epigraphic, geometrical and vegetable designs. Minaret Kalyan is 45.6m high and even today is the highest building in Bukhara. External surface of the tower is adorned in ten decorative belts each having its own geometrical pattern of bricks. A magnificent "sky light" completes the vertical of the minaret.

4. Chor-Minor (1807) - the original structure presenting what is left of a once small madrasah with a gateway structure of four small (some believe, Indian-style) minarets.

5. Kukeldash Madrasah (XVI), Lyabi-Haus Complex (XVII) – an basin of bricks 36m x 46m x 5m set in the wrench of 500-year old mulberry trees, a largest in Bukhara Kukeldash Madrasah and two structures linked to a name of the Bukharian Minister someone Nadir Divan-Begi: the Hanako (hostel and mosque combination) and Madrasah (both XVII).

6. A cult architectural complex of Bahautdin Nakshbandi (XIV - XVII) - created on the burial place of Nakshbandi – the founder of the Sufi Nakshbandia Order and a most respected saint and patron of Bukharian townsfolk. The complex includes two large mosques, a Holy Grave of Nakshbandi, a sacred well, a minaret, a basin and a trunk of an old mulberry tree ostensibly planted by Nakshbandi himself.

7. Sitora-i Mohi Hosa (XIX-XX) – the summer country-side residence of Bukhara emirs. Architectural style of the Palace is eclectic to include elements of both Eastern and European architecture. Interior most richly adorned in fretwork, white alabaster- and wood carving and marble supplemented with true masterpieces of the Bukhara textile craftsmen. Huge courtyard where antelope-gazelle used to roam and where peacocks and pheasants still walk about harmoniously completes a unity of the architectural ensemble.

8. The Jeyran Antelope Sanctuary - is situated 40 kilometres away from Bukhara near the town of Karaulbazar in the steppe land area. On its huge territory variety of wild animals are being preserved such as jeyran (steppe antelope), cheetah and Prjevalski Horse. Tourists have a chance to photograph the nearly extinct species in their natural habitat.