Termez is along the border with Afghanistan (the Amu Darya or Oxus river) and is a busy transport hub for goods entering and leaving Afghanistan due to the Friendship Bridge, built by the Soviet Union.
Old Termez lies 12 km west of the modern center. Alexander the Great is credited as the founder of the city, though there is little evidence of his passage. The stuff of the Hellenistic period may still be buried under the layers of the Kushan period, when the settlement grew in importance. Two sites in the vicinity, Shor tepe and Kampyr tepe, seem to have got more importance under Achaemenid and Hellenistic rule. The latter was a fortified city at Alexander's time.
Since from the early days of the unified empire of Kanishka I (127–163), Old Termez, controlling a strategic position on the north bank of the Oxus at its junction with the Surkhan Darya, became an important center on the Silk Road and the caravan trade brought Buddhism' religious precepts along with the distinctive art forms of Gandhara style. In 689 AD the city fell to Arab Muslim invaders, replaced by the 11th century and onwards by Turkic tribes. Karakhanids erected the domed mausoleum over the grave of 9th century mystic Al Hakim At-Termizi.
In 1218 Shah Muhammad II of Khwarezm ordered the execution of Mongol envoys seeking to establish trade relations. As a result Mongol armies crossed the Amur Darya, and, after a two-day siege, razed to the ground Old Termez in their way to Urgench. The city was rebuilt in a new relocation few miles eastwards.
Things to do in Termez
The exact dates of the construction of the fortress and the names of the masters have not survived to this day. Historians date the construction of the Kirk Keyes fortress to the 9th century. Presumably, it was built by the Zoroastrians, but if we take into account that at that time Termez was a Muslim city called Shahri-Gulgal (which translates as "The Noisy City"), it is likely that Kirk Kiz was built by the Arabs. The citadel was destroyed, probably, during the campaign of Genghis Khan.
Visit Friendship Bridge - The Friendship Bridge is a combined road-rail bridge across the Amu Darya River, connecting the cities of Hairaton (Afghanistan) and Termez (Uzbekistan). Built in 1981-1982. by the forces of Soviet builders. The length of the bridge is 816 m.
It was through the Friendship Bridge that the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan was completed on February 15, 1989.
In 1989 the bridge was renamed "Hairaton". The bridge was closed in May 1997 when Taliban forces attacked the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, and Uzbekistan feared a spreading of the disturbances to their own country. It reopened on December 9, 2001. Work began in January 2010 to extend the railway to Mazar-i-Sharif, which was completed in November of the same year.
Visit Jarkurgan Minaret - The Jarkurgan minaret is located approximately 5 kilometers from the city of Jarkurgan and 40 kilometers from Termez, near the village of Minor. This architectural monument dates back to the XII century, which was established thanks to the deciphered inscription on the building. Minarets are one of the forms of oriental architecture, which had its own characteristics and purpose. The word can be translated as emitting light and, indeed, they were originally used as signal towers, a fire lit on top of it often served as a signal of an emergency and the need to gather the population.
Visit Karatepa Complex - In the II-IV centuries AD the heart of Buddhist culture was the Karatepa complex. It got its name "Black Hills" for being built on sandstone hills. The area of the Karatepa complex was over seven hectares in the northwestern part of Old Termez. Throughout this territory, there were a large number of monasteries and temples, represented by both ground and cave buildings. In the sandy hills, the locals dug huge caves, and on the hilly slopes they built temples and statues from compressed clay or bricks.
Visit Kokildor-Ota Khanaka - Kokildor Ota is an unusual domed building with its structure. The architecture of the building's portal, according to some researchers, can be attributed to the times of the Temurids. The interior of the building includes tombstones, one of which belongs to Saint Kokildor Ota.
Visit Stupa Zurmala - To the southeast of the Old Termez settlement, next to the road to Termez, there are the remains of an unusual cylindrical structure known as the Zurmala Tower. This is a cult building dating back to the heyday of the Kushan kingdom, i.e. by the beginning of the 3rd century A.D.
Archaeologists who investigated this object confirmed the existing hypothesis that this is a Buddhist stupa. The ancient Buddhist stupas, including Zurmala, were a brick-built cylinder with a spherical end.
Visit Sultan Saodat Ensemble - Sultan Saodat is a complex of religious structures located on the outskirts of modern Termez, in Uzbekistan. The complex of Sultan Saodat, which was formed between the 10th and 17th centuries, holds the graves of the influential Sayyid dynasty of Termez. The Termez Sayyids claimed direct descendancy of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The founder of the family is presumed to be Termez Sayyid Hassan al-Amir, descendant of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad. Another historical tradition mentions that Sultan Saadat (Sodot) is the Sultan of Sayyids and the owner "Sultan Saodat" Mausoleum in Termez city - and Sultan Saadat is Sayyid Ali Akbar Termizi, who is also mentioned with the nickname (kunyat) Abu Muhammad, and is presumed to have died at the end of the 9th century or early in the 10th century in Termez.