About Uzbekistan

Kagan. Part 1: New Bukhara
28 May 2018
Kagan. Part 1: New Bukhara

Kagan is a satellite town of ancient Bukhara, where my acquaintance with provincial Uzbekistan began (after all, in the previously shown Gulistan and Jizzakh I stopped on the way back). Here is the railway station of Bukhara: in 1888 when the railway came here, Bukhara remained the capital of a semi-independent emirate, and the emir did not allow the Shaytan-arba (devil’s cart) to enter the holy city. As a result, the station, the starting point of the railways of Uzbekistan, appeared 12 kilometers away from the city, and around it grew New Bukhara, the Russian satellite city of the Emir capital. In time, the Russians practically left, and the settlement (now 49,000 inhabitants) was actively populated by Uzbeks, Tajiks and Persians, all together - the old railway junction with the beautiful emir palace, the rare reserve of Russian Turkestan architecture, the Brezhnev era church with the iconostasis of 18 century, huge and extremely colorful Persian mahallas - it forms one of the most interesting small towns of Uzbekistan. I could probably tell about the town in one post, but since there is not much information on Kagan in the Internet, I will show it in more detail in two parts: in the first one I will cover the center, in the second we will explore its outskirts.

Where did the name Kagan come from, I honestly do not know, but hardly from the title name: I strongly doubt that the emir (literally, the prince) would allow within his reign any kagan (or the king). Under the Soviets, a curious inversion occurred: in 1922 Kagan station became known as Bukhara-1, and in 1935 the town (since 1929) New Bukhara was renamed into Kagan:

I do not know why there are two different stations in the photos - maybe there was a mistake somewhere, or maybe the second one was built in 1907, when another emir overcame prejudices and decided to stretch a narrow-gauge railway to the center of Bukhara, which was substituted with the standard gauge in 1922. The city railway station (known since the same year of 1922 as Bukhara-2) of a similar style there is even preserved, but in the 1960s it was left without railways, and now is completely rebuilt and turned into an Orthodox church. So, the current Bukhara is probably one of the largest towns (270,000 inhabitants) in the former USSR (along with the Yakutsk) without its own railway station (freight line does not count), which Kagan replaces:

There are now two railway stations there, and to be honest, I did not understand what for each one is used for:

The strange smaller station looks out onto a completely deserted high platform, cut off by rails leading outside the gateway to the shed, clearly too small for the depot. Perhaps this is a tourist or government station, at least there was a full-fledged tourist train:

The main station - apparently, from Soviet times, and very unusually arranged. On the second photo from above you can see the arch sticking out from behind the trees... This is also the same station - that is, its length into the "depth" even more than along the platform:

The panel at the railway station is Soviet cotton paradise:

The city's facade of the station with the same arch, judging by the glaring dysfunctionality of which one can make a judgement that it was built in the times of independence. I have not been inside but it seems there is nothing of interest:

However, when I wrote this post, the photos of the station were already historical - it was demolished, and a year and a half later at the same place I saw a cozy, but almost standard replica:

The view from the overpass to the other side, in the background the cargo branch leaves in the direction of Bukhara. I wonder when was built the hangar with almost a modern look? But the "Shukhov Tower" is a real one: surprisingly, in Uzbekistan, almost the highest concentration of them, these hyperboloid towers of the beginning of the 20th century originally served as water towers and could be found at many stations:

Houses on the station square, possibly from pre-revolutionary times. On the other side is the bus station:

In the square I was immediately approached by a huge taxi driver, who began very obtrusively offer to go urgently to Bukhara. Excuses that "I need to go there later, I want to take a walk around the city" in such places usually do not work with taxi drivers, and as my fellow traveler in Bukhara parodied them, "You need to get to the station tomorrow? Sit down, let's go!". Finally, apparently after three ceremonial rejections, he began asking me where I needed to go in Kagan. Since I was interested in the Russian heritage, I immediately told him - to the church, but the taxi driver began quoting extortionary price and say that it's 50 kilometers journey! Somehow, I managed to leave him and went to these gates:

Behind them is the most famous, and actually the only official landmark of the Kagan - of course, the Palace of the Bukhara emir (1893-98), to be exact of Abdul-Ahad Khan, the penultimate monarch of Bukhara. He built it, according to legend, to the never-happened visit of Nicholas II to his Turkestan vassals. The architecture is impressive: we saw many attempts to fuse the West and East from the West perspective, but much less from the East, and here you can see the balance of civilizations: Bukhara builders realised the project ordered by the emir from Tashkent architect Alexei Benous.

Luxurious ganch thread. To tell the truth, this is one of the most beautiful palaces in Central Asia:

What was what I do not know, but given the legend of Nicholas II, there could well not have been a house mosque. Now the palace is not a museum, but as in Soviet times - the Palace of Railwaymen:

Interiors (which are insanely beautiful in Bukhara and Khiva palaces) can be assessed through the glass of the doors from the shot above. Frankly speaking, they are much more "Russian" here than in another suburban palace of Sitorai-Mohi-Khosa, or even more so in Khan's palaces in Khiva.

Shed over a porch the size of an arbor:

Dry (perhaps in April it was not a season yet) fountain in the backyard:

And the gate to Bukhara street, which, as the name suggests, leads to Bukhara. In a crowded minibus, it takes about half an hour to get there, and this is really another city - the border of Kagan and Bukhara is divided by a narrow but noticeable strip of countryside.

While I was inspecting the palace, the same taxi driver overtook me and began to offer his services even more intrusively. I could read in his yellow eyes a distinct desire to kill me - not only because of the time he wasted on me, but because he missed other clients from the train, and after all that I do not want to go with him anywhere! In addition, as an elderly Uzbek with 20 years of experience in the bazaar told me in Moscow, I produce the impression of a man who is very easy to be deceived and robbed. The impression is, however, deceptive (I do not argue that I most often overpay one and a half time, but for surely no one can force to go where I do not need or to overpay 10 times more), and apparently the taxi driver was getting mad from the feeling that he can not cope with such a light prey like me. In short, the second time I refused him openly rude and decided to leave the station ASAP.

In my guidebook it was said that Russian buildings are standing along the road to Bukhara, but from the train window it seemed to me that I saw something modern and with a turret somewhere on this side of the railway station. The latter was probably a mirage, and running ahead I will say that it is necessary to look neither here nor there. Nevertheless, seeing that the road to Bukhara does not offer anything interesting, I went to the right along the first large street from the station parallel to the railway. After one kilometer, I realized that I obviously went wrong and caught a taxi passing by, whose driver was much more adequate and aware of where the church is.

In fact, it was a mistake: the fact is that New Bukhara starts immediately after the pedestrian overpass in front of the station! And the only road bridge in the whole Kagan is on the bypass, and bypassing the road takes 6-7 kilometers. In addition, we must also understand that the St. Nicholas Church, which I considered to be the main landmark of the "Russian" center, is quite far from the latter, since it was not built on a historical site:

And most importantly - when it was built: in 1968-69. The fact is that Central Asia is a "reserve" of the Orthodox architecture of Soviet times, and the Nicholas church in Kagan refers to the "exceptions from exceptions" - after all, 9/10 of the few Soviet churches were built in the post-war religious thaw, and if under the Stalin appeared several dozen temples, then in 60s just a few were built (the most striking example is the Buddhist Ivolginsky datsan). So, it was definitely worth to have a look at this small modest church, lost in the depths of dusty mahallas:

In the temple, of course, I met Russian people. In Central Asia, in many cities, it is easiest to meet them in churches and cemeteries, because in other places they are dissolved in the crowd. There are few Russians left in Kagan today, but much more than in the average Uzbek province, even young people can be seen, although most of the parishioners of the St. Nicholas Church were still elderly people:

But the most interesting thing about the Kagan church is its iconostasis, too exquisite for a replica in a small poor community. The local people said that it was passed from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and there were supposedly two of them - a large one was sent to Baku, and a small one was sent here. Actually, neither the scale nor the time coincide, but the iconostasis was indeed brought from the ruined Moscow church - Preobrazhensky in the Preobrazhenskaya Sloboda (1763-68), now recreated as the main temple of the ground forces of the Russian Federation. That is, we have a unique for these regions monument of Russian Orthodoxy of the 18th century, perhaps the oldest Russian iconostasis in foreign Asia.

How did the local community manage all this? The fact is that behind the Kagan temple there was a Person - Father Pavel (Adelheim). His name is probably familiar to many - in 2013, all the media flashed the news that he was killed in his own house by a Satanist. Born in 1938 in Rostov-on-Don he studied in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Adelgeym was expelled from the Kiev Seminary for political reasons by the notorious Filaret (Denisenko) in 1959, then its rector, and now the head of the "national" Kyiv Patriarchate. From Kiev, Pavel went to Tashkent, where he became deacon, in 1964 he graduated from the seminary (this time Moscow one) and was appointed priest in Kagan, where he managed to collect donations and build the present church, and even somehow to secure an iconostasis from a ruined Moscow cathedral. In the same year he was arrested, and imprisoned for three years, from where he was released disabled, losing his leg during the prison rebellion. Several more years he served in Central Asia, and in 1976 he was transferred to Pskov, where he became rector of the Myron-Bearing Church. His last conflict with the authorities occurred in 2008, when he openly criticized a number of issues of internal church life, primarily the drafting of the charter of the church court, for which the Pskov Metropolitan Eusebius (by that time already "famous" for the persecution of icon painter Zinon with the destruction of his icons) removed Father Pavel from his post. And five years later, at the end of the anti-clerical hysteria in the progressive circles - a knife of the Satanist in his own house ...

The cross and the "skeleton" of the dome in the courtyard - apparently, remained from the belfries dismantled several years ago over the entrance, photos of which I had seen in the Internet. In present Uzbekistan, the sound signals from religious buildings are banned, and as a result, both the azan and the bell ringing came under the ban.

Leaving the church, I headed toward the center through the mahallas:

And something similar to the Russian houses began to emerge here and there in an increasing concentration:

Near this house in the echoes of the bazaar I talked with the local people and took a taxi to the old cemetery, which I will leave for the next post. The local people asked me to take a picture of them - a pretty young family lives in the city of Kagan:

The Russian part of Kagan turned out to be quite solid, from the Central Asian cities that I saw it could be competed only by the Kyrgyz Przhevalsk (Karakol). Here, pay attention also to the round window of the house at a distance:

Mill (picture shot from the gate):

That's how I reached the main street of ancient New Bukhara, the first from the railway and parallel to it (but not the one on which I already walked, but on the other side of the road). I do not remember its name, but the locals still call it Lenin street:

The fading world of Russian Turkestan:

Alas, I did not find any information about specific buildings, but everything was there - offices, banks, representative offices of Russian companies, schools (including the first Tatar school opened in 1902 in Central Asia), shops, printing (where from 1912 the world's first Tajik-language newspaper was printed), the hospital, the garrison and the Russian embassy - the last three are located a little further, by the road to that very cemetery, and I'll leave them also for the next part.

Pay attention to the soaring plane - the airport in Bukhara is much closer to the center than the railway station:

This and the last houses stand on a wide main square in the alignment of Bukhara street

Now here is a typical oriental bazaar shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow, sprawling on several streets:

For some reason in this photo I see the whole essence of Russian Turkestan as of our time:

On the outskirts of Kagan: a cemetery of three nations (none of which is from Central Asia) and the road to it past the original buildings of New Bukhara, the Proletarabad station and the Persian mahallas in place of the royal garrison, from where Frunze bombed Bukhara - I will write in the next part.

Source: varandej

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Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
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