Sunday, October 7, 2012

Karavan Saray on the Ustyurt Plateau

Caravanserai, khan, or fondouk, also Han (in Turkish) known as caravansary, caravansera, or caravansara in English or Sarai in Indian subcontinent (Persian: كاروانسرا kārvānsarā or کاروانسرای kārvānsarāi, Turkish: kervansaray) are buildings specially built to shelter travelers, goods and animals along ancient caravan routes, in particular along the former Silk Roads.

Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia. Up until the 16th century caravans continued to move trough the region linking the Kharnate of Khiva with the Emba and Volga Rivers.

Archeologists have discovering on the the remains of Caravanserais and wells which used to be stay points along the Great Silk Road placed at intervals of 20-30km or so across the UstyurtPlateau.

Linked to the rise of Islam and the growth of the land trade between the Orient and the West (then to its decline because of the opening of the ocean routes by the Portuguese), the construction of most of the caravanserais spanned a period of ten centuries (IX-XIX century), and covered a geographical area the centre of which is Central Asia. Many thousands were built, and together they form a major phenomenon in the history of that part of the world, from an economic, a social and a cultural point of view. They are also remarkable for their architecture, which is based on geometric and topologic rules that use a limited number of elements defined by tradition.

Sadly many have been completely demolished and those which remain are, for the most part in ruins and are slowly disappearing.

Beleuli caravanserai (Just over the border in West Khazakhstan)- On the route of the Khorezm-Sheikhs connecting Khiva with the lower reaches of the Emba and the Volga.