Turkmenabad is considered to be the second largest city of Turkmenistan, located on the left bank of the Amu Darya River. It is also the center of Lebap region as well as the entire eastern part of the country. Over its long history, the city has changed a great number of names.
At the dawn of its formation, precisely in I-IV centuries this city was called Amul, then at the end of the XV century until 1924 year, its name sounded like Chargezhuy (four channels). After that, it was renamed for Leninsk and then returned again to its former name. Until 1992 year, the city was called like Chardzhou, but after some time passed, the name was changed to Chargev.
And only in 1999 year the city acquired its present name — Turkmenabad.
According to the data of 2009 year, the population of Turkmenabad is 253 thousand people, the ethnic composition of whom is: Turkmen, Russian, Uzbeks, Tatars, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Azeris, Armenians and others.
Region’s climate is considered to be continental, with large annual and daily fluctuations of temperatures. Winters here are not extremely cold and summers are hot and protracted. The maximum temperatures in July are up to + 33C, at the same time, the minimum January ones reach — 15C. The highest rainfall is commonly in autumn and spring.
The city is situated in a zone of moderate seismic activity.
Without any doubt, you already understood that the whole history of Turkmenabad, judging by the abundance of its titles, is pretty long and incredibly interesting. The heyday in the early period of its earliest period was about at the III century AD, when the town became one of the most important cities — halts on the Great Silk Road.
Since then, the city used to be mentioned more often in the annals as Amul, which meant a settlement at the river crossing. It was exactly this place, where the dozens of trade caravan routes gathered together. In anticipation of the traveling to be continued, merchants had a rest in the caravanserais, the medley crowd buzzed in the streets and the trade flourished.
And the history of Amul, as the deep waters of the Amu Darya River slowly rolls forward. Incidentally, the river of Amu Darya was named namely after the city and not vice versa.
It is widely known that from I to VIII century Amul city was part of the Kushan Empire, and gained the independence only after its death. However, soon after that happened, the conquest of the East by the Arabs began, who simply could not miss such a «tidbit». Therefore, the city became part of the Arab Caliphate.
Somewhat later, Amul city became dependent on the state of Khorezm, which gave a powerful impetus to its development. During this period, a thriving city was considered to be a center of science, culture, crafts and grew up to epic proportions.
In the XI century, Amul could not escape the fate of the entire territory of Turkmenistan. Thus, it was conquered by the Seljuks and came under the control of the king of the Turkmens, named Chagri-bek.
In the XIII century the town was completely destroyed by Genghis Khan’s army, who were angered by the unprecedented rebuff from its residents.
In the XVI-th century, this area became to be known as the Charzhuy. Perhaps, that was not without a «light hand» of Babur, a descendant of the famous Tamerlane, who in 1511 year was on the march and stayed with the army at the camp, right on the ruins of the city near a river. That time, four small canals were flowing not far from his camp. In consequence, in his famous work, which got the name of «Baburname», the poet and military commander called this place as «Charzhuy» — four channels.
In the XVIII-th century Charzhuy became the part of the Khiva Khanate, the city rose from the ashes and flourished again. By the way, XVIII century is considered to be called as the «golden age» of Turkmen poetry. This is due to the remarkable creativity of the Turkmen poet Makhtumkuli, and then of his disciple — both a warrior and a poet, Sadie, who were among its citizens.
In the second half of the XIX-th century Charzhuy, as well as the entire region of Central Asia, existed under a protectorate of tsarist Russia. In 1875 year, the Old Believers were sent here and then settled near the Russian military settlements.
The banks of the Amu Darya River started to grow around with a newly built settlements that later became beneficial for the development of shipping. In 1877 year, the steamer from Turtkul arrived at Charzhuy, so, that gave impetus to the development of the steam fleet.
At the end of XIX-th century the town was named «New Charzhuy», which was associated with a change in the composition of the population. Now mostly Russian lived in this area, whereas before, Charzhuy was inhabited only by indigenous nationalities. It was about the same time, when Railway Bridge was built across the Amu Darya River, which became the longest in the whole Russian Empire and the third largest all around the world.
After the October Revolution won, Charzhuy became part of the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic.
In 1924 year, the town became a full right member of the Turkmen SSR.
1992 year brought the city a new name of Charzhev as well as a new status of the subject of an independent state of Turkmenistan.
These days, Turkmenabad is modern, cozy, cheerful and sunny city, remembering its own history and hopefully looking into the future.
Historical monuments and tourist attractions.
Repetek National Park.
That is sand-desert reserve, which is located in 70 kilometers to south-west of Turkmenabad. Its territory stretches over 34,600 hectares in south-eastern Karakum desert, all around the station of Repetek.
The reserve was created in 1928 year, based on existing research station. In 1979 year, it received the status of «biosphere». Protection of the territory was created in order to study the unique natural world, sandy desert, the representatives of its flora and fauna, many copies of which are already listed in the Red Book, as being endangered.
In total, this zone occurs more than 30 species of mammals, the rarest of which are: desert lynx — caracal, Indian porcupine, sand cat and weasel. There are more than 20 types of reptiles such as geckos, grey lizards, agama, sand boa, snakes, ephah and other of them. A very rare plain tortoise inhabitants in these places too.
This Reserve contains 196 species of birds, 13 kinds of whom live here permanently, and more than 1000 different insects.
Not rich vegetation is represented here by black and white crowfoot, coniferous ephedra, sand sedge and other of plants.
Not far from Turkmenabad, and namely in the north-eastern slope of Mount Gaurdak that is situated in the southeastern part of the country, the traces of prehistoric dinosaurs were found. Being found on an uninhabited rocky plateau, situated at an altitude of 800 meters above a sea level, the tracks preserved almost perfectly. These relics belong to the Jurassic period, which was approximately 140-145 million years ago.
Similar traces were also found in another place of Turkmenistan — on Hodzhapilsk plateau, in the mountains of Koytendag.
The ruins of a medieval fortress that belonged to the ruler of Amul, are located 10 kilometers from the city center. In the X century, this building was a huge square adobe fort, surrounded by a wide moat. Each of the walls of the citadel had its gates, oriented to the cardinal.
Inside the fortress there were housed the palace of beck, the houses of his entourage and relatives, barracks, warehouses, food, prison. Here a beautiful royal garden was also laid out. Over the city walls, the city was encircled by rabads — trade and craft suburbs.
The remnants of the fortress, varying by degrees of preservation, have survived till nowadays, which are considered to be of a great scientific and historical value.
Mausoleum of Allamberdar.
That is some part of the museum of Atamurat, which is located in the vicinity of Turkmenabad. Mausoleum of Allamberdar (Almutasir), is a historic building, presumably of the XI century — the oldest of surviving buildings in the Northern Khorasan. Its architecture could not better reflect the trends of the «golden age» of monumental construction in Central Asian. This is both the impressive dimensions of the structure and the unusual decoration of the facade of the building.
The entrance portal, which is protruding from the ground level of the building, is richly embellished with figural carved masonry of bricks that gives the building a stern and solemn appearance on the background of clean textured brickwork of the rest of the decor.
The structure is concluded into a memorial complex, consisting of mosque and tombs. In fact, it is considered to be several different buildings constructed at different times, but they are so close and so complement for each other, that is difficult to imagine the original author’s idea. Mausoleum of “Astana Baba” is considered to be a monument of the XI-XII century, and even today it is an active place of pilgrimage for Muslims.
Although, who was actually, Astana — Baba nobody can remember nowadays, but according to legends, his final resting place brings healing, which is confirmed by pilgrims visiting this place.
Standing near by, the mausoleums of Zaid — Ali and Zuveyd — Ali are also included into a complex of «Astana-baba». However, in contrast to the mausoleum of an unknown saint, the names of the inhabitants of these tombs are well known, and even have their own beautiful story.
«Once upon a time, the ruler of Khorasan had a beloved daughter named Zuveyda. The governor of this place fell in love with her, so, her father did not interfere and they were married. But soon after, «tuy» (marriage) a young wife died, sad father brought the best artists ofSamarkand and Merv to build a worthy of his daughter’s mausoleum. However, the builders did not have time to finish the building as it collapsed. The enraged father encouraged other builders, but the same thing happened. And the third built mausoleum suffered from the same fate.
King was in despair, for what sins does his daughter have to suffer? But once, in a dream he was visited by a gray-bearded old man and advised to build the mausoleum of clay and water brought from Mecca. The governor did that way and surprisingly the mausoleum stood. After the death of the king, his remains were buried in a mausoleum next to her daughter’s, and the water from Mecca, which remained after construction, was poured into the well standing nearby.
By the way, this well is at the same place even nowadays and the water there is, indeed, considered to be sacred.
It is considered to be the largest structure of such kind in the ancient caravan route from Amul to Khorezm. Structure refers to monuments of the XI-XII centuries. These days, only a dilapidated shopping rabads (suburbs), situated around the caravanserai, remained there. But once it was a tremendous structure, with arches, vaults and domes laid out from the bricks. According to the legends, the walls were strengthened with round towers and the facade was faced with brick in the original ornamental style. Fragments of the laid out bricks with snippets of texts, where the names of Caliph Abubakr, Omar and Ali were mentioned, can be seen today in some parts of rabad.
Among the locals, this caravanserai is referred to as «Bai — Khatyn” and it is connected with an interesting legend.
«Once, long long time ago, a very wealthy resident of Amul suspected his wife of infidelity, but after being sure that the suspicions were groundless, he decided to punish himself for the pride and jealousy. Thus, he dressed like dervish and left the house. Having waited for her husband for a quite long time, the comforted woman, in order to somehow alleviate the hardship of his journey, began to build a caravanserai, which could welcome all travelers. For this building she ordered brick in Merv and due to living chain from hand to hand, it was transmitted to the construction site. Ironically, a missing husband found himself working in this chain, while already coming home. »