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Your Guide in Central Asia

  
  
  

Bukhara-the ancient town of Central Asia


The ancient town of Central Asia has a huge and ever changing history but remained a very charming and green city until our recent days.

buharaBukhara, emirate of the former state, central Asia, in Turkistan , in the Amu Darya River basin. Part of ancient Sogdiana, it was ruled ( A.D. 709–874) by the Umayyad Arabs and played an important role under the Samanid dynasties (875–1000). It was a trade, transport, and cultural center of the Islamic world. The Seljuk Turks ruled from 1004 to 1133; later, the realm was conquered by Jenghiz Khan (1220) and in the 14th cent. by Timur. The Timurid dynasties ruled until the invasion of Uzbek tribes early in the 16th cent. The Bukhara emirate was founded by the Uzbek Khan Sheybani, who between 1500 and 1507 conquered the Timurid domains in Transoxania. In 1555, Abdullah Khan transferred the capital from Samarkand to Bukhara, from which the state then took its name. Internal feuds weakened Bukhara, it split into a number of principalities, and in 1740 it was conquered by Nadir Shah of Persia. In 1753, Bukhara again became an independent emirate but did not recover its supremacy over Khwarazm, Merv, Badakhshan, Tashkent, and the Fergana Valley. Bukhara's population consisted principally of Uzbeks (who remained politically dominant), Sarts, and Tajiks. Defeated by Russia in 1866, the emirate became a Russian protectorate in 1868. In 1920, after a prolonged battle with Bolshevik forces, the last emir was driven into Afghanistan. The Bukhara People's Soviet Republic was established (1920) and lasted until 1924. In the same year it was proclaimed a socialist republic and was included in the USSR; a few months later, however, it was dismembered and divided between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. 

Bukhara, city (1991 pop. 231,000), capital of Bukhara region, Uzbekistan, in the Zeravshan River valley. On the Shkhrud irrigation canal system, it is the center of a large cotton district and has textile mills as well as cotton-ginning industries and a large karakul skin processing plant. The population is mainly Uzbek, with Tajik, Arab, and Afghan minorities and a much-dwindled Jewish minority. First mentioned in Chinese chronicles in the 5th cent. A.D. , Bukhara is one of the oldest trade and cultural centers in central Asia. It was a long-time center of Judaism. It came under the Arab caliphate in the 8th cent. and became a major center of Islamic learning. During the 9th and 10th cent. it was the capital of the Samanid state. From the 16th cent. to 1920 it was the capital of the khanate of Bukhara, which was ceded to Russia in 1868. From 1920 to 1924 it was the capital of the Bukhara People's Republic. Its many monuments include the mausoleum of Ismail Samanid (892–907), the minaret of Kalyan (1127), the mosque of Magoki-Attari (12th cent.), the Ulughbek (1417–18) and Mir-Arab (1535–36) madaris (theological schools), and the madrasah of Abdulaziz-Khan (1651–52). The name is also spelled Bokhara. 

Bukhara Bukha ra, one of Uzbeki stan's treasur es, is a place rich in history and dramatic architecture. The city's most famous landmark, the Kalyan Minaret (dating back to 1127), is the greatest remnant of truly old Bukhara; Genghis Khan destroyed most of the city, but left the minaret standing, supposedly because he was struck by its beauty. The minaret, whichdraws visitors up its 105 steps to see a panora mic view of the city, was once the tallest structure in Central Asia. It has been called the Tower of Death, legend has it, executions were often performed by throwing the condemned from its heights. In truth, however, locals will tell you that only one such killing occurred from the tower. Yet the city has witnessed some brutal executions; perhaps the most infamous were the killings of British officers Col. Charles Stoddart and Capt. Arthur Conolly 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 (city jail), then forced to dig their own graves before their ceremonial beheading in front of the Ark (the Emi's palace).

The Ark now houses a museu m on the city's history , and the Zindan is now a tourist attraction, showcasing such skin-crawling rooms as the Bug Pit, a torture chamber and the dungeons. Bukhara, with its population of a quarter of a million, is a major tourist attraction for travelers following the old Silk Road. Celebrating its 2,500th anniversary in 1997, the city has been working hard to put its best old face forward. And though Bukhara's mud-colored buildings are often a let-down to visitors who have just seen the dazzling mosaics of Samarkand, the city's subdued desert hues and centuries-old buildings exude their own exotic air of ancient culture.


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