Suitcase and World: Bukhara. Chor Minor.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bukhara. Chor Minor.

I woke up rested and ready to take on the day!  I'm liking being in Bukhara.

With Pat in charge of the clock, we're never late.  We had to meet back up with Suhkrob at 9a and shortly before then, we were waiting for him to arrive.  It was another picture perfect day in Bukhara so we decided to stand by the road.  Soon enough, he came around.  A quick phone call to Shavkat and he appeared as well.  Apparently, he had come by earlier but couldn't find a space to park the car so he went to a nearby street.  We all got in the car and drove a very short distance out of town.

Shavkat pulled the car over on the roadside.  We crossed the road and walked down what looked like an alleyway that ran through a neighborhood.  I had absolutely no clue where we were going.   Then, I saw the small green sign tacked up on the brick wall.  Not exactly the world's biggest marker.

From here, it was a blur of alleyways and turns.  I don't remember seeing any other marker.  If not for Suhkrob leading the way, we would have been lost.....really lost.

Just when I see the telltale turquoise green caps of the unmistakable towers of Chor Minor, I see the green sign pointing the way.  Well....., don't exactly need the sign now!

One final turn and this charming little madrasah was in full view.

Each of the four towers is topped with a turquoise colored dome but other than than they are each of a different shape and have different designs which are believed to reflect the religious-philosophical understanding of the world’s four religions - Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism.

Strictly speaking, the four towers are not minarets and they were never designed (or used) as a location from which the muezzin could call the faithful to prayer; these are simply decorative towers. The mosque was simply the gatehouse to a larger madrasah.

 It's not until you stand, facing the entrance portal, that you see the *madrasah* part of the building.  The doors on the right lead to rooms for scholars and students; there were no lecture rooms.  In addition to the mosque, the madrasah also houses a hospice and a khanaka.

The well-preserved madrasah was built by Khalif Niyaz-kul, a rich Turkmen merchant although there's some debate about exactly when the madrasah was built.

From a design perspective, the architecture of Chor-Minor is unusual in that it is the only known building in Uzbekistan in this style.  Some historians have surmised that it was possibly inspired by the Charminar Mosque in Hyderabad, India, where Khalif Niyaz-kul is thought to have traveled.

We stepped inside.  The former mosque is now a shop.  So sad.  You would think they could set up the shop OUTSIDE the mosque.

Suhkrob told us we could take steps up to a platform from where we could have a better view of the towers.  Leaving him behind, Pat and I ventured up.  The steps were narrow and uneven in terms of height so we had to be careful climbing up them.

And there were the low pass throughs....low even for a height challenged person like me.

The small *platform* at the top was actually the flat roof of the mosque. 

We took in the views of the towers.  We peeked over the ledge to see a bit of the neighborhood Chor Minor is located in - not much of a view really.

I think it actually took us longer to go back down the steps than to climb up.   I'm a bit paranoid that I will take a misstep and go tumbling down....that would be really painful.  Brings back memories of how I ended up with a dislocated elbow while traveling through Egypt.

In any event, we both made it down in one piece.  We met back up with Suhkrob; he was standing on the porch of some shops.  I don't know if he was leaving us time to go inside or not but neither Pat nor I were interested in shopping so we just gave the cue we were ready to leave.  From here, it was back to Shavkat and the car.  Off to our next destination - the Memorial Complex of Naqshbandi.