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Photographer's Note

Bukhara in Uzbekistan is an ancient oasis city along the fabled Silk Route and it is said that the sun shines up from the city for it is so noble. For centuries it was a centre of trade and Islam, earning the title Bukhoro-i-Sharif, or "Noble Bukhara" among Muslims (one of the seven holy cities of Islam). The city itself boasts impressive architecture and history. It is one of the few places in Central Asia where one can feel the heartbeat of ancient Central Asia. Most of the city remains intact and most of the 250,000 inhabitants are members of families who have lived there for generations upon generations.

Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara, which is more than 2,000 years old, has buildings spanning a thousand years of history, and a thoroughly lived-in old centre that probably hasn’t changed much in two centuries. It is one of the best places in Central Asia for a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan.

Most of the centre is an architectural preserve, full of madressas, a massive royal fortress and the remnants of a once-vast market complex.

Po-i-Kalyan or Poi Kalyan (Uzbek: Poi Kalon) which means "The Foot of the Great", is an Islamic religious complex located around the Kalyan minaret in Bukhara. Kalon means great and this mosque, locally known as Maedjid-i kalyan was completed circa 1514. It was known also as Jamia (Friday) because all male inhabitants of the city were expected to attend the Friday prayer in this mosque. When Genghis Khan conquered Bukhara and went inside the mosque he thought he was entering the (local) royal palace. When he learnt it was a religious building, he first turned it into a stable and then set fire to it. The current mosque was built in 1514: the portal leading to its courtyard had the objective of showing the wealth and power of the Shaybanid dynasty. In order to allow all the male adults to attend the Friday prayer the courtyard was very large.

In the background is the Kalon Minaret which was built by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan Khan in 1127. When it was built, the Minaret (whose name means "great" in Tajik) was probably the tallest building in Central Asia. It stands 47m tall and is supported by 10km-deep foundations padded with reeds for earthquake-proofing. In 850 years, it has never needed any structural repairs.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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