Turkmenabad is situated on the left bank of Amudarya river, in the center of eastern part of Turkmenistan and Lebab velayat (region). Turkmenabad has been known as Chardjou for a long period of time.
Turkmenabad is the city with beautiful name and beautiful past. Its more than 2000 years history can arouse interest and startle even a callous and indifferent person. Of course it has never been notable for impressive dimensions, refined architecture monuments or a big number of population living in it. But all these things are not so important. The really important thing is that this city overcame everything in spite of all the incidents happened to it during its long period of existence, even the advert of Chingizkhan and his blood-thirsty army. Not everybody could survive during that invasions, some of them died forever. But not Chardjou. This is its remarkable feature - to adjust to circumstances, even if they are severe and sometimes insuperable. And even after such Mongolian distress of 13th century it was able to revive, to recreate from the ashes, in which it was turned by these executioners of cities and medieval pearls of architecture. You may ask about the secret of its ability of surviving. Everything is very simple. There are no secrets. It’s all about the location of Chardjou. What place is favorable for city location? Natural cross of caravan roads - the line, which has been a distinctive connection channel between West and East, Europe and Asia for a long period of time. Exactly because of this Chardjou has always been a place indispensable for existence. Moreover, for exhausted by difficult road travelers, this oasis in the desert was the place, where they could hide from the intense heat, immerse themselves into the vivifying coolness and forget for a while about the way which had been already passed and which should be passed.
However later ways of Great Silk Road were forgotten. But even this circumstance didn’t ruin the city. It is still alive, well-known and remembered. A lot of mysteries and enigmas are kept in the ancient Chardjou land, many things are still have not been discovered and explored.
By the way, it is important to mention that nowadays Chardjou is recognized as one of the units of visiting and work of international expedition “Great Silk Road - Road of Dialogue”. This action is the largest in the UNESCO proclaimed decade of culture. Its aim is to inform the nations about the necessity of historical contacts renewal for the mutual spiritual enrichment, interaction of cultures and peace on the planet. As the ancient trade road is the first in humans history example of protracted and stable connections between the nations of two continents - Asia and Europe. Possibility of founding a new international tourist route “Great Silk Road”, one of the units of which will be Chardjou, is under the consideration.
Nowadays Chardjou is famous for the cultivation of melons. Astrakhan fur processing production is developed there. But this city still has much ahead. Together with independent Turkmenistan it is awaited to have new achievements and victories, may be even more significant than ever before. And may be after two thousands years it will be remembered as a fascinating monument with the four thousands years history and one will admire it as sincere as we do this today.
The city has been renamed for many times. Its ancient name is Amul. Than, beginning from the 15th century till the 1924 the present Turkmenabad was famous as Chardjuy. Chardjuy in translation from Persian means “four channels”. In 1924-1927 it was known as Leninsk (Turkmenian Leninsk), from 1927 to 1940 - again Charduy, than it was named Chardjou. From 1992 to 1999 it was officially recognized as Chardjev. Since 1999 the city has been called Turkmenabad.
Turkmenabad is the second city in Turkmenistan after Ashgabat by the number of population. 234 800 people lives there.
Climate in this city of Turkmenistan is sharply continental and dry with considerable daily and yearly fluctuations in temperature. Winter is warm, summer is sultry. The highest average monthly temperature is noted in July (+32,2° С). The coldest month is January. There are from 70 to 120 mm of precipitations a year, in mountains - till 350 mm. Repetsk reserve possess the first place around the country by the height of summer temperature. The absolute maximum of 50° С in the shadow is fixed there.
History of Chardjou
History of modern Turkmenabad begins from the history of an ancient city Amul, which has begun in the 3rd century B.C. It is imposed for its birth to the famous roads of Great Silk Road, on cross of which it was situated. By the way, exactly Amul gave the name to the river Amudarya in the past. Its name is translated as the river of Amu. Before this the river was called Oks. In the 1th-4th centuries Amul was the part of Kushans kingdom. Copper coins found by archeologists on this territory are the proven illustrations of this. After the disintegration of Kushans kingdom Amul became independent. But that period was not long. Soon it became the part of Arab Caliphate. At that time according to Arabian historians statements Amul was a considerable cultural center, where “a lot of scientists” came from.
In the 9th-10th centuries the city was developing owing to its location on the crossroad of more lively trade paths. Later it became dependant from the largest in the West for that period of time Khorezm State. That period can be considered as the most important in the history of Amul. It reached the highest growth and became very large.
The 13th century was a very difficult and suffering period. Conquering detachments of warriors under the command of Chingizkhan came to the territory of Khorezm. Amul was conquered and ruined in 1221. However this circumstance didn’t stop the development of trade and handicraft in the city.
Than, Amul became subordinate to newly appeared Uzbek state reigned by Sheibanikhan and later it has become the part of Bukhara Emirate. Exactly that time Amul ceased its existence and all the glory was obtained to a new name of the city - Chakhar-djuy (or Chardjuy) which is translated as “four channels”. Here is the beginning of its other name - Chardjou.
Bukhara Emirate, part of which the city was, had been a feudal state. Emir had an unlimited authority, supported by clergy. Slaves represented the lowest class. For that period Chardjou was one of the centers where the slaves were bought and sold. The city was inhabited by merchants and handcrafters. Head of the city was Bek - governor of Bukhara Emir. Bek’s residence was a vast wattle and daub stronghold, enclosed with a wide fosse of water. Four gates of four parts of the world were guarded by sarbazs twenty-four-hour. The square, barracks, warehouses with provision, houses of bek’s relatives and retainers, his palace with garden and khauz (pond) were located inside the stronghold. There was also a prison, deep well, where on the stone bottom concluders were kept in a horrible conditions. In west and east stronghold was surrounded by traders and handcrafters houses. Stronghold’s remainders were preserved. A lot of interesting things were found there by archeologists.
The city and its environs were mostly settled by Uzbeks. Banks of the Amudarya’s middle flow were settled by Turkmen tribes: ersars, sakars, sayats, mukrs and the others. Ersars, who had been settled there in the second part of the 17th century, were the most numerous tribes. Turkmens living there were occupied with cultivating the land and breeding the cattle.
The 18th century is considered to be the “golden” century of Turkmen poetry. Mostly it is concerns with the name of Makhtumkuli poet, whose live was connected with Lebab - ancient name of the Amudarya’s middle flow’s land. Makhtumkuli’s junior contemporary and deserving student was Seidi - poet and warrior.
In the secons part of the 19th century Chardjou became a part of Russia. That influenced a lot political, economic and cultural life of the city and Central Asia on the whole. In the spring of 1875 uralian Cossacks old-believers were resettled to Chardjou by the tsar’s order because of their refusal of military service according to their religion. Devoted to their faith Cossacks settled not far from the Russian military fortifications.
On the Amudarya’s banks new settlements were founded. This allowed using this river for navigation. In two years “Samarkand” steamship came from Turtkul to Chardjou’s landing pier. That was the beginning of steam fleet traffic on Amudarya.
Then the railways construction, which provided the rail traffic from Kaspiy to Chardjou, started.
In 1896 the city was renamed for “New Chardjui”. It differed from the “Old” with the circumstance that there lived mostly Russian speaking population. Before, its population consisted of only the representatives of native nationalities. At the same time railway bridge, which on 17 of October in 1898 became the longest one on the territory of the whole Russian Impire, ant the third one by its length in the world, was constructed across Amudarya.
After the emir’s reign overthrow and with the soviet authority Bukhara Peoples Soviet Republic was proclaimed on the first All-Bukhara Kurultai on 14th of September in 1920. Chardjuy became a part of it. In 1924 after the national governmental demarcation Chardjou became a part of Turkmen SSR. In the 20th-30th Chardjou began to develop as republic’s industrial center. Due to its location among the regions, where mainly cotton and cocoons were produced, cotton-cleaning and grainer plants were built there.
Nowadays Turkmenabad is a welcoming warm city with recreation parks and city beach, which love the visitors very much.
Repetsk reserve is a sand-desert reserve founded in 1928. It is situated in south-west direction in 70 km to Chardjou in South-East Karakum’s sands around the Repetsk station. It is the hottest place in the whole Central Asia. Reserve was founded to preserve the desert landscape with its unique animals and plants worlds. Many representatives of them are noted down in the Red book.
Site of ancient settlement Amul-Chardjui is Amul ruler stronghold’s ruins (the 10th-11th centuries). It is situated not far from the entrance to Turkmenabad - in 10 km. In the 10th century it was a vast square wattle and daub stronghold, surrounded by a wide fosse of water, which served as an obstacle for the enemy in the case of attack. Every side of the stronghold had its own gates. Thus every gate looked one of the four parts of the world. They were guarded by warriors twenty-four-hour. The square, barracks, warehouses with provision, houses of bek’s relatives and retainers, his own palace were located inside the stronghold. There was also a prison, deep well, where concluders languished on the stone bottom. In west and east stronghold was surrounded by traders and handcrafters houses. Only few fragments of the stronghold, which is nowadays a worthy historical and archeological monument, have been preserved till today. City-museum Atamurat, where you can find Allamberdar and Astana-baba Mausoleums, is situated in the environs of Turkmenabad. These places are sacred for a lot of faithful people, who make very often their pilgrimage here.
Allamberdar (Almutasir) Mausoleum is the part of Atamurat city-museum. This is a majestic building constructed in the 11th century on the territory of Northen Khorasan. Mausoleum was built in the architecture style of Seldjuks reigning period. It is characterized with vast dimensions and not ordinary facade design. Mausoleum’s facade is plentifully decorated with decorative ornamental laying with the fretted figure bricks used. Portal as though projects from the basic building’s volume. A clear brick texture of the whole interior makes mausoleum to look little strictly and solemnly. There is only one room with false gravestone inside the mausoleum. Archeologists didn’t find any burial place neither under the monument, nor around it. May be the remains of what had been buried there once were moved to the other place. But, unfortunately, nobody knows this for sure.
Astana-baba Mausoleum is also the part of Atamurat city-museum. It consists of mosque and graves, which are dated the 11th century. “Zyyarat” - ritual of worship one or other saint, making by arrived pilgrims are held here from time to time. Nobody knows for certain who was Astana-baba when he was alive, but the place where mausoleum is located is sacred and it brings healing. It is considered to be a distinctive cup of Islamic Graal, touching which gets rid of the troubles and brings long-expected relief. The number of pilgrims is growing from day to day here.
There are also Zeid-Ali and Zuveid-Ali mausoleums in “Astana-baba” complex. A very beautiful legend was composed about them in the folk. It tells that once upon a time Balkh’s (medieval Khorasan) ruler had a very beautiful daughter Zuveyda. She was married to the governor of these lands, but soon after the wedding the girl died. Grieved father brought the best foremen from Merv and Samarkand to build an excellent mausoleum in the memory of his daughter. However, after the construction was completed mausoleum crashed down. Newly constructed building suffered the same fate. This happened for three times. Father was in despair, but once in the dream an old man came to him and advised to raise the mausoleum from the clay and water from Mekka. Distraught with grief father did that. Brought from Mekka clay was stirred in the soil. Water from Mekka was poured into the well from where it was taken for the construction. Thus mausoleum was completed. After the ruler’s death his body was buried in the lodging contiguous to his daughter’s burial-vault. Water in the well, from where it was taken for building the Zeid-Ali and Zuveid-Ali mausoleums, is considered to be sacred.
Dayakhatyn (Bay-Khatyn) caravanserai. Caravanserai, situated at the road from Amul to Khorezm, is a unique the 11th-12th century’s architecture monument. Only vast ruins of caravanserai’s Rabat made from raw bricks were preserved till nowadays. Rabat was strengthened by round towers long before. Caravanserai’s arches, vaults and cupolas are laid out with the bricks. Facade walls are tiled with bricks in a unique ornamental style. Relief text fragments with the names of Arabian Caliphs Abubakr, Omar and Ali have been preserved in some places of Rabat. Legend about the construction of this caravanserai is widely spread in the folk. It tells that once one rich man suspected his wife of faithlessness. Despite the fact of any faithlessness absence the man, offended by such thoughts went away from his home in the beggar dervish’s clothes. His wife was waiting for him for many years. To make his desert wandering easier she has built a big and beautiful caravanserai. Bricks for it were made in Merv and with the help of live chain were transported from hand to hand to the place of construction. There was her husband among the workers, who has returned back home after traveling around the world.
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