About Surkhandarya


Located on the right shore of the Amu Darya Termez is one of the ancient cities of Uzbekistan. Around the modern city one can come across several different cultural layers in the remnants of historical sights. The initial cultural treasure could not be saved: in 1220 the city was fully pull down by the Mongols as the citizens refused to capitulate to the enemy.

In the eastern part of the old city a new one was raised up. An ambassador of Castilian King Henry III been to Amir Temur’s reception, Rui Gonzales de Klaviho describes the city as following:

’’…entering the city, we were going so long crossing squares and crowded streets that we came home tired and angry’’.

Here it must be stated that Termez had been one of the centers of Buddism in Central Asia for seven centuries, from I AD to VII AD which can be proven with the help of sites uncovered during   archeological researches around the city.


The ancient city Termez is located in the southern part of Uzbekistan where a number of historically important architectural monuments can be found. This old city is well-known as the centre of Buddhism in Central Asia before spreading of Islam. Ancient sites such as Dalvarzintepa, Complex of Karatepa, Buddhist Stupa Zurmala are considered the examples of Buddhist settlements, while Sultan Saodat architectural complex, the mausoleum of Hakim at-Termiziy, khanaka Kokildor-Ota, Kyrk Kyz Fortress present the Islamic features in the unique architecture.

Sultan Saodat is a complex including a series of architectural monuments (mosques, khanakas and mausoleums built in honour of Sayyids – descendants of Prophet Muhammad ). The complex is located 3 km from Termez, near the banks of Surkhan Darya. It was erected during the XI-XVII centuries.
Up to now the half of the buildings have been preserved. The ensemble is 70 meters long and extends from East to West. According to the original architecture there were two main premises: the mausoleum and the mosque domes put upon. There are a couple of doors in the sidewall, into the mausoleum through the northern door and into the mosque via the southern one. Afterwards the Sayyid descendants or local citizens constructed the other structures in the complex.
Sultan Saodat complex appeals the visitors with its simplicity in the architecture combined with tranquil grace.
In the decoration of the sidewalls geometrical ornaments in the octagonal majolica tablets were used, there you can see golden insertions in the glaze. The archivolt was decorated with vegetative and geometrical adornments, while the vestibule present painted walls with black and blue. However, till the middle of XX century a little part of the décor remained and today it is completely lost.
The complex has been renovated several times up to present day. Over the last period it used to be one of the active pilgrimage places for Muslims who slaughtered animals, cook food, walked around the graves, read Koran.

Located 60 km to the North from Termez Dalvarzintepa settlement is considered the most ancient Buddhist settlement in Uzbekistan. What’s more it is famous for the golden treasure – weighting 36 kg golden jewellery: rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and etc. They all can prove high skills of goldsmiths of that time.
According to archaeologist L.I.Albaum the ancient city settlement refers the period of Kushan Kingdom including I cent. BC-VI and VII cent. AD. During the excavations (1959-1960) there found numerous coins, ceramic fragments of Kushan epoch. It became known that in the antique times people here used developed irrigation techniques in farming. It was the administrative center of military units. The war hikes of Alexander the Great had also a positive effect on the city growth. However, the Arabian troops put an end the urban life of Dalvarzintepa eternally.
On the South of the settlement the highest point – Vishgorod is situated, which is surrounded by ancient ditch. Here ceramic stoves, winery and small temple were found; on the North rectangular constructions: Buddhist temple – full of small Buddha statues. The settlement is considered the most ancient Buddhist site. There is Muslim cemetery on the north-east and the temple of Baktra’s goddess on the north-west.
The findings excavated from Dalvarzintepa showed high cultural level of that period: sculptures, jewellery items, paintings, statuettes of musicians and etc.

One more venerable destination of Termez is Djarkurgan minaret which was erected in 1108-1109 by emir Sultan Sanjar. It is situated in Minor village, 60 km far from Termez. Initially, the entire height of the minaret was 40 meters, today it is 21 meters high with 5.4 m in diameter: some scientists assume that the construction has been either unfinished or destroyed. For the foundation of the minaret baked brick was used. According to the findings of the excavation in 1879, there used to be a mosque adjoining the minaret.
The particularity of Djarkurgan Minaret is the herringbone deco which is usual for Indian and Khurasan mausoleum towers. Sixteen semi-columns closely adjoin to each other and on the top they are tied by an ornamental belt where epithets were inscribed for the governor.

The fortress Kirk Kiz (Forty girls) is located near to Termez, in Namuna village. It was presumed to be constructed as a summer citadel of the samanid emir in IX-X centuries. As the fortress was built with mainly clay the biggest part of the construction was destroyed. However, you can see the whole beauty looking at remained part of the building.
Kirk Kiz complex is a square 54m in each side, built of raw brick, at the end of which there were strong towers. There was a cozy courtyard with 11.5×11.5m in size in the centre of the construction. In the main building one can see arched aperture and windows through the facades.
Among people the fortress is well-known with its legendary princess and thirty nine maidens who defended the citadel and fought courageously against enemy.

In the list of Buddhist cultural destinations Karatepa (Black hill) complex has a significant place among the others. The constructional ensemble is situated on the three sand hills lying on the North-East part of the ancient Termez settlement. The erection refers II-IV centuries, having an eight-hectare square, it includes tens of temples and monasteries as ground-cave forms.
As usual you can see a number of stupas here which were made of clay as the territory of Central Asia is not rich in stones. In the territory of Karatepa a stone sculpture was also found, besides in one of the temples the fragment of Buddha image remained on the wall who is meditating to feel dyana (seventh level of Ashtanga Yoga).
The golden period of the complex connected with Kushan Kingdom (I-III c) as at that time this Buddhist Centre gained the name of Royal Monastery. During the next centuries the caves were used for sepulture.

On the south-west of ancient Termez situated blue domes of the mausoleum erected in honor of great muhaddis – great theorist of Islam Sufism, scientist and the founder of dervish order – Abu Abdulloh ibn Hasan ibn Bashir Hakim at-Termiziy. He was one of the close and beloved pupils of Imam al-Bukhari, who was well-known connoisseur of hadisas in the whole muslim world.
Hakimi is known as one of the twelve Islamic mystical sects, which was born in the works of the religious leader. His works, especially, “Big Assembly” served as a maintenance for the numerous books of the next generations.
The complex gained today’s appearance during many centuries, several statesmen contributed to make the mausoleum more notable. After his death Hakim at-Termizi was buried in the yard of the hanaka, built on the former place of Buddhist temple. In the XI century a mausoleum was constructed over the grave with outstanding and richly decorated carved ganch, later in 1389-1390 a new small mausoleum was built, a splendid white marble ( which was a beautiful example of stone carving school in the XV century) was put over the grave according to the order of Amir Temur. His grandson continued the construction and erected the largest building complex for dervishes, faqihs and wandereds.
In honor of the 2500 years anniversary of Termez, in 2001 the mausoleum of the saint was reconstructed completely and today it symbolizes the renaissance of Islam values.

Fayaztepa is a complex of Buddhist Culture dated back I-III century AD. It was discovered by archaeologist L. Albaum in 1963 during the excavations of Karatepa.
Fayaztepa is of great importance due to well-kept sculptures and numerous paintings that adorned the walls of the complex. The construction consists of corridors, halls, cells and sanctuaries, which form U-shape.
The main building was divided into three parts: for accommodation; for dining room and kitchen; for performance of religious rites and ceremonies.
Along the temple walls you can see different images of Buddha among which there is the painting of two Buddhas depicted in the middle of women on the sanctuary wall within story lines. The painting dates back I century AD and survived to present day in good condition.
One of the most valuable exhibits of Uzbekistan State Museum of History was dug out from Fayaztepa. It is the sculpture of Buddha sitting under bodhi tree and a couple of monkeys on his hands. The sculpture was of limestone and adorned with golden leaves. There, besides, you can be impressed by a giant dagoba which is 10 meters high. The small dagoba which is located inside is three meters.

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