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Sackvoyage Tour Ltd. » Country profile » Termez

The territory of Surkhandarya thanks to convenient condition for agriculture attracted ancient man thousands years ago. But until first states appeared there were just separated settlements. Due to very favorable position on the banks of Amudarya, where a large island and shallows offered a convenient crossing of the mile-wide river, this territory became important strategic point, dividing mountainous Baktria and agricultural oases of Sogd. Ancient Persian kings and Alexander the Great, the Kushans and the Hephtalites, all strove to set control over this territory. Greeks brought Hellenic culture, Kushans art of Gandahara and Buddhism. During the Kushans reign many Buddhist monasteries were built around Termez, ruins of some of them remained till today. In the mid-seventh century the city was conquered by the Arabs and was included in Transoxiana. Under the Arabs the city became a major Muslim religious center, while at the same time the secular element remained so vibrant that the noise from Termez, so the story goes, could be heard in Balkh, 70 km south of the river. The 10 and 11 century saw another high point in the development of the city when under nominal rule of Bukharan Samanids Termez reached its zenith. But already in 12 century the city went through hard times. One ruling dynasty replaced another until in 1220 after 11-days siege the Mongols took Termez and razed it to dust. After that the curtains closed on Old Termez. But survivors didnt leave and built new city several kilometers away from ruins of Old Termez. Thanks to brisk trade the city revived again. Termez continued to flourish under the Temurids but was destroyed at the end of the 17th century. The present town was rebuilt in 1897 as a Russian fort and garrison. And for the last 80 years Termez has been one of the furthest and most sensitive sealed outposts of the Soviet Empire, enforcing an unnatural religious cutoff point between Islam and atheism. Nowadays Termez is regaining its importance as cultural, trade and tourist center.

"Once you have become the companion of the road,
it calls you again. The road lies outside the door
of your house full of charm and mystery".

Graham, Stephen
Through Russian Central Asia (1916)