Bukhara

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Bukhara from the Soghdian βux?rak ("lucky place").The history of Bukhara stretches back millennia. Officially the city was founded in 500 BCE in the area now called the Ark. However, the Bukhara oasis had been inhabitated long before. According to the Russian archaeologist E. E. Kuzmina, writing in 2007 in The Prehistory of the Silk Road, links the Zaman-Baba culture found in the Bukhara Oasis in the third millennium BCE to the spread of Indo-Aryans across Central Asis. Since 3000 BCE an advanced Bronze Age culture called the Sapalli Culture thrived at such sites as Varakhsha, Vardan, Paykend, and Ramitan. Together both the Sapalli and Aryan people lived in villages along the shores of a dense lake and wetland area in the Zeravshan Fan (the Zeravshan (Zarafshan) River had ceased draining to the Oxus). By 1000 BC both groups had merged into a distinctive culture. Around 700 BCE this new culture, called Sogdian, flourished in city-states along the Zeravshan Valley. By this time, the lake had silted up and three small fortified settlements had been built. By 500 BCE these settlements had grown together and were enclosed by a wall, thus Bukhara was born.

Persian and Sassanid EmpiresBukhara entered history in 500 BCE as vassal state or satrapy in the Persian Empire. Later it passed into the hands of the Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, the Greco-Bactrians, and the Kushan Empire. During this time, Bukhara functioned as a cult center for the worship of Anahita, and her associated temple economy. The trade festival took place in front of the Mokh Temple. This festival was important in assuring the fertility of land on which all inhabitants of the delta depended. As a result of the trade festivals, Bukhara became a center of commerce. As trade accelerated along the silk road after the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) pushed back the northern tribes to secure this key trading route, the already prosperous city of Bukhara then became the logical choice for a market. The silk trade itself created a growth boom in the city which ended around 350 BCE.

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After the fall of the Kushan Empire, Bukhara passed into the hands of Hua tribes from Mongolia and entered a steep decline.Prior to the Arab invasion, Bukhara was a stronghold for followers of two persecuted religious movements within the Sassanian Empire, that is, Manicheanism and Nestorian Christianity. In and around Bukhara many coins have been discovered with Christian symbols such as crosses, dating around the late seventh or early eighth centuries. Scholars have suggested that due to the large amount of coins Christianity have been the official religion of the ruling caste. More coins with crosses have been found around Bukhara than anywhere else in Central Asia.When the Islamic armies arrived in 650 AD, they found a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and decentralized collection of peoples; nevertheless, after a century many of the subjects of the Caliphate had not converted to Islam, but retained their previous religion. The lack of any central power meant that while the Arabs could gain an easy victory in battle or raiding, they could never hold territory in Central Asia. In fact, Bukhara, along with other cities in the Sogdian federation, played the Caliphate against the Tang Empire.

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The Arabs did not truly conquer Bukhara until after the Battle of Talas in 751 AD. Islam gradually became the dominant religion at this time and remains the dominant religion to the present day.Qutaiba ibn Muslim built a grand mosque inside the citadel in the year 712-3. That place (formerly) had been a temple. The inhabitants of Bukhara became Muslims, but each time after the Muslims withdrew they apostatized. Qutaiba ibn Muslim converted them to Islam three times but they apostatized and became infidels. The fourth time he made war he seized the city and established Islam there after much difficulty. For a century after the Battle of Talas, Islam slowly took root in Bukhara. In 850 AD Bukhara became the capital of the Samanid Empire, which brought about a revival of Iranian language and culture after the period of Arab domination. While under Samanid control, Bukhara was a rival to Baghdad in its glory. Scholars note that the Samanids revived Persian more than the Buyids and the Saffarids, while continuing to patronize Arabic to a significant degree.Nevertheless, in a famous edict, Samanid authorities declared that "here, in this region, the language is Persian, and the kings of this realm are Persian kings."During the golden age of the Samanids, Bukhara became the intellectual center of the Islamic world and therefore, at that time, of the world itself. Muhammad al-Bukhari, a prominent Islamic scholar who gathered the authentic sayings (hadiths) of the Prophet Muhammad, was born in this city. During this time Bukhara was by far the largest city in Central Asia and it was one of the biggest and most populated cities. The city was also a center of Sufi Islam, most notably the Naqshbandi Order. In 1005 Bukhara was included into the Turkic state of Karakhanids. Karakhanid ruler Arslan khan ordered the building of one of the beautiful minarets in the Islamic world - Minora-i Kalon.At the beginning of 13th century it was invaded by khorezmshakh Muhammed (1200–1220).

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According to Juvaini, when Genghis Khan conquered Bukhara "he contented himself with looting and slaughter only once and did not go to the extreme of a general massacre" as he did in Khorasan, although most of the city burned. He chose a moderate path in between mercy and punishment because the population readily submitted while the garrison in the citadel resisted. Although he spared most adults, Genghis Khan killed 30,000 Qangli Turks who were "taller than the butt of a whip" on account of their loyalty to Sultan Muhammud, then conscripted all remaining able-bodied men into service. After Genghis Khan's death, his son Chagatai and his descendants ruled Bukhara until the emergence of Timur.This was a feudal state during the 16th–18th centuries. It received this name when the capital of the Shaybanid state (1500–1598) was moved to Bukhara. It reached its greatest extent and influence under its last Shaybanid ruler, Abdullah Khan II (r. 1577–1598). In 1740 it was conquered by Nadir Shah. After his death, in 1747, the khanate was controlled by the descendents of the Uzbek emir Khudayar Bi, through the prime ministerial position of ataliq. In 1785, his descendent, Shah Murad, formalized the family's dynastic rule (Manghit dynasty), and the khanate became the Emirate of Bukhara.Alim Khan (1880-1944), last emir of Bukhara, deposed in 1920Bukhara played a role in The Great Game between the Russian and the British Empires' games. Charles Stoddart and Arthur Conolly were imprisoned there by the Emir, first thrown into a vermin pit for months, and then beheaded outside the Citadel. Joseph Wolff, known as the Eccentric Missionary, escaped their fate when he came looking for them in 1845.Eventually it became a colonial acquisition of the Russian Empire.In 19th century, Bukhara still played a significant part in regional cultural and religious life. The last Emir of Bukhara was Muhammad Alim Khan (1880–1944). The Trans-Caspian railway was built through the city in the late 19th century. The nearest station is at Kagan, a dozen miles away, but the emir had a private spur built to Bokhara itself.It is now the capital of the Bukhara Province (viloyat) of Uzbekistan. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. During the golden age of the Samanids, Bukhara became the intellectual center of the Islamic world and therefore, at that time, of the world itself. The historic center of Bukhara, which contains numerous mosques and madrassas, has been listed by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.

 

PLACES YOU SHOULD VISIT:

Abdullaziz-khan Madrassah

Ark-Citadel

Bolo-Khauz Complex

Bukhara State Museum

Chor-Bakr

Chor-Minor Madrassah

Djami Mosque

Ensemble of Khoja-Gaukushon

Fayzabad Khanqah

Fayzulla Khodjaev Museum

Kalyan Minaret & Mosque

Khanqah of Khoja Zaynuddin

Kosh-Madrassah

Kukeldash Madrassah

Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble

Magoki-Attori Mosque

Mausoleum of Sayf ad-Din Boharzi

Medieval Baths of Bukhara

Memorial complex of Naqshbandi

Miri-Arab Madrassah

Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah

Poi-Kalyan Ensemble

Samanids Mausoleum

Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace

The Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum

Ulugbek Madrassah