Termiz / Термиз
|• Type||City Administration|
|• Total||36 km2 (14 sq mi)|
|Elevation||302 m (991 ft)|
|• Density||3,800/km2 (9,800/sq mi)|
Termez (Uzbek: Termiz/Термиз; Tajik: Тирмиз; Persian: ترمذ Termez, Tirmiz; Arabic: ترمذ Tirmidh; Russian: Термез; Ancient Greek: Tàrmita, Thàrmis, Θέρμις) is the capital of Surxondaryo Region in southern Uzbekistan. It is notable as the site of Alexander the Great's city Alexandria on the Oxus, as a center of Early Buddhism, as a site of Muslim pilgrimage, and as a base of Soviet Union military operations in Afghanistan, accessible via the nearby Hairatan border crossing.
Some link the name of the city to the Greek word Θέρμος (thermos), meaning "hot", and date the toponym to the rule of Alexander the Great. Others suggest that it came from Sanskrit तर्मतो (taramato), meaning "on the river bank".
One of Central Asia's oldest towns, Old Termez, located a few kilometers west of the modern city along the Amu Darya river, was established sometime before the 3rd century BC. The city may have been known to the Achaemenids (the 10th century Shahnameh purports its existence during the mythological Zoroastrian Kayanian dynasty).
In 329 BC Alexander the Great conquered the surrounding region, known as Sogdia. Most recent scholarship argues that Termez is the site of Alexandria on the Oxus, though some identify this site with Ai-Khanoum. After a period of Seleucid rule, Termez became part of the breakaway Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. The Ionian Greek language persisted in the area through the Tocharian period, being phased out of administrative use during the time of the Kushan Empire, in favor of the Bactrian language.
It was during this period that Termez, named Ta-li-mi (迭里迷) in Chinese sources, became an important center of Mahāsāṃghika Buddhism. Termez was incorporated into the Sassanid Persian Empire in the 3rd century AD, and elements of Zoroastrian-Buddhist religious syncretism appear in the archaeological record, with Buddhist monasteries containing fire altars, and a graffiti inscription referencing "Buddha-Mazda."
— Xuanzang, Great Tang Records on the Western Regions
Islamic Golden Age
It again rose to religious significance during the Abbasid and Samanid Empires, producing notable scholars such as hadith collector Imam Al-Tirmidhi and Sufi master and theologian Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi.
In 1220 after a two-day siege, the city was destroyed by the troops of Genghis Khan. According to one account, "all the people, both men and women, were driven out onto the plain, and divided in accordance with their [the Mongols'] usual custom, then they were all slain."
Ibn Battuta found the city reconstructed in the early 14th century:
We set out from Samarqand and reached Tirmidh [Termez], a large town with fine buildings and bazaars and traversed by canals. It abounds in grapes and quinces of an exquisite flavour, as well as in flesh-meats and milk. The inhabitants wash their heads in the bath with milk instead of fuller's earth; the proprietor of every bath-house has large jars filled with milk, and each man as he enters takes a cupful to wash his head. It makes the hair fresh and glossy . . . The old town of Tirmidh was built on the bank of the Oxus, and when it was laid in ruins by Tinklz [Chingiz] this new town was built two miles from the river.— Ibn Battuta Travels in Asia And Africa 1325–1354
The restored Termez soon came under the rule of Tamerlane's Timurid Empire with the backing of the Tirmidh Sayyids, a local religious aristocracy claiming descent from Muhammad through Sayyid Ali Akbar. The Timurids held the territory until it became a part of the independent Emirate of Bukhara in the 16th century.
By the second half of the 18th century the city was again abandoned, and the ruins of the reconstituted Termez laid outside the nearby villages of Salavat and Pattakesar (Pattagissar).
In the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union
In December of 1894, the Amu Darya Fleet was joined by the 31st Amu Darya Border Brigade. In the coming years troop levels were increased, as the 4th Orenburg Cossack Regiment, the 13th Turkestan Special Battalion, and the 2nd Orenburg Cossack Battery were relocated to the area.
The Emirate of Bukhara acquiesced to increasing demands from the Tsarist government for more lands, until on January 27, 1900, over nine thousand acres were donated to Russia, and the Russian military began a program of Russian resettlement to the area.
In the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Pattakesar became a part of the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic, and then the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1928, as part of the Soviet Union, Pattakesar was renamed and took the city's ancient name of Termez. In 1929, the village became a town.
During the years of Soviet rule, as Termez became a hub of Russian military activity, many industries were developed, and a pedagogical institute and theatre were opened. Termez saw a significant increase in industrial development during World War II, as the Soviet Union replaced industrial centers in the western regions that had been disrupted by Nazi attacks.
For many years after the Second World War the 108th Motor Rifle Division, the former 360th Rifle Division, was based in the town. During the Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989), Termez became an increasingly important military post, with over 100,000 Soviet troops stationed there. A military airfield and the Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge, a combined bridge over the Amu Darya, were built. In 1989, Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan via the Termez bridge, bringing the conflict to an end.
21st century Afghan conflicts and aftermath
In 2001, Germany began operating a base in Termez. The military airfield was the main support base for German and Dutch forces operating with the ISAF for transiting goods into Afghanistan. It was closed in 2015.
Following the 2021 Taliban offensive and resultant Fall of Kabul, the Biden administration reached out to Uzbekistan, as well as Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, to ask if they might temporarily accommodate up to 9,000 Afghans who might face reprisals for working with U.S. military forces. By the 5th of July, the state security services had constructed a refugee camp in Termez to brace for an Afghan refugee crisis. Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev reported that 494 Afghans were evacuated through the Termez Airport.
In August of 2021, Russia and Uzbekistan held joint military exercises outside of Termez.
The river Amu Darya divides the two countries of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and the Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge crosses the river to Hairatan in Afghanistan. Termez is also served by Termez Airport, with flights to Tashkent and Moscow. Termez is connected with Uzbek Railways to other cities of the countries and Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. The Tashkent–Termez (no. 379) and Termez–Tashkent (no. 380) trains run every day. Dushanbe–Kanibadam (no. 367) and Kanibadam-Dushanbe (No: 368) trains also pass through Termez.
A 2014 World Bank report found that the population of Termez grew by 50% in the period between 1990 and 2014. Using satellite data, Termez was classified as a "Type 3" city, having a "Growing Population & Declining Economic Activity." This report was issued, however, before the presidency and economic reforms of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
In 1992 the Pedagogical Institute was upgraded to Termez State University. Termez is also served by the Termez Branch of Tashkent Medical Academy, Termez Technical University, and the Termez Branch of Tashkent State Agrarian University.
Termez has a cold desert climate (BWk) with very hot, long summers and short, cool winters.
|Climate data for Termez (1981–2010, extremes 1936–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||23.9
|Average high °C (°F)||10.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||4.2
|Average low °C (°F)||−0.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−23.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||24.3
|Average precipitation days||10||11||11||8||5||1||1||0||1||3||6||9||66|
|Average snowy days||4||3||1||0.03||0.1||0||0||0||0.03||0.1||1||3||12|
|Average relative humidity (%)||77||71||66||57||45||36||36||38||45||53||65||76||55|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||139.5||144.1||189.1||246.0||334.8||375.0||384.4||362.7||315.0||257.3||195.0||139.5||3,082.4|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||4.5||5.1||6.1||8.2||10.8||12.5||12.4||11.7||10.5||8.3||6.5||4.5||8.4|
|Source 1: Centre of Hydrometeorological Service of Uzbekistan|
|Source 2: Pogoda.ru.net (mean temperatures/humidity/snow days 1981–2010, record low and record high temperatures), Deutscher Wetterdienst (sun 1961–1990)|
Entertainment and culture
Historical and archaeological sites
- Termez Archaeological Museum opened in 2002 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of Termez. It exhibits archaeological finds and other historic artefacts from sites across Surxondaryo Region. The modern building has a turquoise domed roof and an attractively tiled facade. It is one of the largest and best museums in Uzbekistan. There are around 27,000 items in the collection.
- Much of the museum's collection focuses on Termez's Buddhist history, in particular the Graeco-Bactrian and Kushan eras. There are scale models of archeological sites including Kampir Tepe, Fayaz Tepe, and Khalchayan; and magnificent wall paintings and sculptures, as well as coins, ceramics, and even ancient chess sets.
- Kyr Kyz (The 40 Girls Fortress) takes its name from a Central Asian legend about a princess and her 40 companions who defended their land against invaders. Although this monument is called a fortress, archeologists believe it was actually either a caravanserai or a summer palace. It was built during the 9th century in the Samanid period. Although it is now in ruins, it is still possible to see the 54m long mud brick walls, which in places are two storeys high. One section has been restored so you are able to compare the old and the new.
- The Al Hakim At-Termizi architectural complex dates from the 10th to 15th centuries. It is centred on the mud brick mausoleum of Al Hakim At-Termizi, a Sufi saint, jurist, and writer who died in Termez in 859. The site was expanded and improved at the instigation of Timur's son, Shah Rukh, in the 15th century.
- The Sultan Saodat architectural ensemble developed in stages between the 10th and 17th centuries. It was the family necropolis of the Termez Sayyids, a politically and religiously influential local dynasty which claimed descent from Ali. There are approximately 120 graves in the complex, as well as a number of religious buildings. The mortar holding the mud bricks together is an unusual mixture of clay, egg yolk, camels’ blood, and milk. There are pre-Islamic decorative symbols on some of the buildings, including a Zorastrian star motif which represents infinity and fertility.
- The Kokil Dara Khanagha was built by Abdullah Khan II of Bukhara in the 16th century. The building was created as a resting place for itinerant Sufi dervishes and other holy men. It has cultural links with various buildings in Afghanistan, including the styling of the vaulted ceiling. There is no central courtyard as this order of Sufis didn't whirl, but instead focused on quiet, solitary meditation.
- Kara Tepe is a rock cut Buddhist temple complex founded in the 2nd century AD on the hills outside Termez. It is right on the Uzbek–Afghan border, and so a permit is required to visit. The site includes cave cells (which were used as burial sites once the temple was abandoned in the 4th century), a series of brick buildings, and small stupas. It is similar in design to other Buddhist temples built in Gandhara.
- Fayaz Tepe is a Buddhist monastery, most of which dates from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD. The main stupa (which is now encased in a protective dome) could be much older. Fayaz Tepe was a regionally important site, attracting Buddhist scholars from along the Silk Road, as is evidenced by pottery finds inscribed with Brahmi, Punjabi, Kharosthi, and Bactrian scripts. The Buddhist frescoes excavated here are now on display in the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.
- The Zurmala Stupa is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Uzbekistan, dating from the 1st to 2nd centuries AD. Its brick structure is 16m high and is the only remaining part of a vast Buddhist stupa which would have been originally clad in stone and richly decorated.
- Kampir Tepe was a substantial city built on the Amu Darya river by Alexander the Great. Known as Alexandria on the Oxus, the city had an important harbour with a lighthouse, as well as a citadel, temples, and a gateway that is a replica of one found in Pamphylia in Turkey. The site is still being excavated by archeologists but is open to the public.
Notable people of Termez
- Its most famous native son is Al-Tirmidhi, born in its suburb Bugh and buried 60 kilometers north of Termez, on the outskirts of Sherobod, Uzbekistan. He is one of the six canonical hadith collectors of Sunni Islam. He is locally known as Abu Isa at Termezi.
- Hakim-at-Termizi, one of the famous Sufi theologians, is buried in old Termez which is in the suburbs of modern Termez. He is also known as Termez Ota (a patron saint of Termez).
- Sayyid Ali Akbar was an Islamic saint, the son of the eleventh Shia Imam, Hasan al-Askari and the brother of the twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi. Sayyid Ali Akbar is Sultan Saadat (Sodot) who died in Termez. His burial place is located in the main mausoleum Sultan Saodat memorial complex in Termez.
- Adib Sabir, 12th-century Persian poet
- Said Baraka was from old Termez. He was a philosopher, war strategist and religious nobleman, and Amir Temur's teacher.
- Ali Termezi known as "Pir Baba" was a Sayyid born in Termez, (1502–1583 CE). His mausoleum is in a village named Pir Baba after him in Buner District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
- Valery Khalilov (1952–2016) was born in Termez. He was a Russian general and a composer.
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After the fall of the Samanids, between the 11th and the early 13th century, ancient Termez was contested between several Central Asian dynasties (i.e, Kharakanids, Ghaznavids, Seljuqs, Kara Khitays, Ghurids and the Khwarazm Shas), who alternatively controlled this powerful stronghold.
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