Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!

Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah

Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah is a part of the architectural complex located round well-known Lyabi-Hauz in Bukhara. The madrasah building, as well as khanaka nearby, were named after vizier Nadir by whose order they were constructed. Vizier Nadir served at a court yard of one the strongest and powerful representatives of Ashtarkhanid dynasty Imamkuli-khan, who ruled in Bukhara in 1611-1642. The board of Imamkuli-khan was one of the most stable and relatively peaceful for the whole history of Ashtarkhanids in Bukhara. It was time when governors paid attention not only to constant wars, but also to town-planning.

Initially, Nadir Divan-begi ordered to build khanaka (a place for Sufis to reflect and rest), later caravansari was added. However, at the opening ceremony, Imamkuli-khan said that caravansari was built in the glory of the Allah, therefore the vizier had to reconstruct it into the madrasah. The Nadir Divan-begi madrasah is decorated in the style typical for all Muslim monuments of Central Asia. At the same time, the images of birds, animals and a human being - sun were also used in decoration, and it was uncharacteristic for Islamic monuments. The Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah was built on the model of Sherdor in Samarkand but famous lions at the portal were replaced with mythical birds of happiness.

Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah, BukharaHaving transformed the caravansari into madrasah, the vizier ordered to attach a loggia, a portal and angular towers to its main fac,ade, and to add the second floor for living rooms – hudjrs. As for khanaka, it had a form of a multichamber building with the central dome hall. Hudjrs were not on the second but on the first floor, in lateral walls and building corners. The main entrance had extended form, untypical for Central Asia. Nadir Divan-begi ordered to construct pool near to khanaka and madrasah. Stone steps lead to it.. Subsequently this artificial reservoir was named Lyabi Hauz and became one of the most known sights of Bukhara.

In walking about Bokhara that day, looking into mosques and medressehs, peering into corners between the cracks in plank doors - through one such crack I saw into a sandy yard where four or five of the shaggy little Bactrian camels were reposing - I came back now and again to the central maidan of the old city, the divan beghi. Over a large oblong pool lean ancient trees, mulberries and willows, whose leaves dapple a surface of shadow and sungleams. At one end stands the emblazoned facade of a medresseh, pierced by a drop arch and flanked by towers of pale narrow bricks: opposite this formal presence, across the water, sprawls at its leisure all the casual, easy-going entertainment of Asiatic town life of the old sort. Wooden bedsteads with dirty striped covers stand about on the stone-flags near the pool. From a ramshackle chai han tea may be bought, or bread and fruit, or sherbet. Customers of every race between China and the Black Sea, some in robes, some in suits, some in rags, squat on the bedsteads playing draughts, or talking in screeching tones, or making a ceremony of stirring quantities of sugar into their tea-glasses with tinkling spoons: behind the crowd rises a jungle of green leaves filling a small garden up a flight of steps, its promise of shade completing the tally of comforts needed for peace and rest in a desert life - water, shade, refreshment, and, reflected in the water, the arches and cupolas of the Faith.

"Journey to Khiva" by Philip Glazebrook