Buddhist monuments of Termez
The history of international communication of East and West along the Great Silk Road has deep roots and is full of fascinating plots. This ancient caravan road contributed not only to the development of trade, but also to the interpenetration of cultures of different nations. Buddhism penetrated into the territory of Uzbekistan from India in the beginning of our era on the Silk Road. Hence, it is one of the oldest world religions moving further - to China, Korea and Japan.
In the middle of the 19th century, Stanislas Julien, a philologist from the Paris College de France, translated the book of a Buddhist monk Xuan-jiang into French language He visited the country in the 630s of the AD to the northwest of the Hindu Kush and the upper Amu Darya. There Xuan Jiang described to Chinese and Japanese people the prosperous country of Sogd, his capital Samarkand, the Chach (Tashkent), Fergana Valley, Ustrushan, Kesh and Bactria. The book of this traveler-worshiper became a scientific sensation. His "Description of the Western Countries" clarified the geography of the regions of the East, where by the year 1850 these regions were visited by a few Europeans. Moreover, the history of these places was unexpected. For instance, It is turned out that Buddhism was prospered here until the adoption of Islam at the end of the 7th century AD.
Cave monastery of Karatepa
During the excavations at Karatepa, there was a discovery of the entrances to the underground temples, littered with stone blocks and sand. Broken bas-reliefs, ceramic shards and sometimes coins were crumbled in the process of analyzing the debris in the mountains of crushed stone and brick. It took three seasons to clear a few caves and a square yard. Its perimeter had the round stone bases of columns, on square foundations. There was a smooth bright red plaster on the walls of the courtyard, a path on the floor of white limestone tiles and a high white stone threshold, on which, sixteen hundred years ago, someone drew two unopened lotuses by a black outline.
As a result of the excavations of Stavisky, it was established that there were more than one temple or monastery on Karatepa. There was a whole Buddhist complex - system of temples. In addition, the finds in Karatepa declared their primordial Bactrian origin with such certainty, as if each had a brand it would have a name "Made in Bactria." Sculpture and colorful ornaments are the architectures of the Tarmita temples with all the roots of the ancient local tradition. Bactrian art school together with the renowned Gandhar school in India, participated in the creation of the art of early Buddhism, which left an indelible mark on the history of world culture.
Buddhist Monastery of Fayaztepa
A number of buddhist religious monuments have arisen since the turn of our era in North Bactria around Tarmit: the large cave center of Karatepa in the northwest; the temple-monastery complex of Fayaztepa in the north; in the east, near the walls of an ancient citadel - a mound on the surface of which fragments of Buddhist sculpture were found; further to the east - stupa, currently known as the "Zurmala Tower" and others.
This monument is located not far from the ancient settlement of Tarmita. The complex covers an area of 117x34 m. It is located between the Amu Darya River and the ancient caravan road.
This grandiose structure is clearly divided into three parts: a temple, a monastery and outbuildings with a refectory. Each of them consists of a courtyard and the premises around it. Apart from the main part, a stupa with an ideally round dome is erected on a special pedestal. It refers to the I c. BC. e. and is considered to be the oldest construction of the complex. The central part of the complex consists of a courtyard, on the perimeter of which there are rooms, and an adjacent aivan. The walls of the aivan gallery, resting on the row of columns, are decorated from the top to the bottom with colored images. According to the assumption of archaeologists, there was a temple. The northwestern part of the complex is a complicated monastic layout. Its small courtyard had a one-sided closed aivan and cells of monks.
Moreover, according to irrigation, there was a waterfall in Fayaztepa - the water was fed to the temple along an aqueduct 2.5 km long.
Buddhist stupa Zurmala
To the southeast of the ancient settlement of Old Termez, on the side of the road leading to modern Termez, there are the remains of a structure known as the Zurmala Tower. The ruins of the tower have attracted the attention of archaeologists for a long time. In 1926, they suggested that it was a Buddhist stupa. A detailed survey, conducted half a century later, confirmed that this is a cult structure that belongs to the prosperity era of the Kushan kingdom.
The tower was seriously damaged during a large period of time, however, it makes an incredible impression. Its foundation consists of a raw square brick. All bricks have a characteristic brand in the form of a line and two holes. Such bricks were used in Bactria only during the Kushan governing period. In other words, at the beginning of the III century. n. e. Scientists estimated that it took almost 1,200,000 such bricks to erect a stupa. A solid block of raw brick has a small chamber for relics in the upper part - a reliquary.
Stupa near Old Termez was the first Buddhist building, opened in the territory of Central Asia. Today there are about forty of them and two dozen Buddhist monuments are in the territory of Uzbekistan.