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Jarkurgan minaret

Situated in the village of Minor (Kommunizm Kolkhoz), seven kilometres from the pleasant town of Jarkurgan and 38 kilometres from Termez, this unique minaret can be visited as a day trip from Termez or as a stopover on the way to Denau. Either way, it is well worth the visit.

Though a truncated version of its former self (only the first 22m of an estimated 50m remain intact), this 12th-century structure is remarkable by the wavelike shape in its brickwork: it appears to be made from a rounded concertina of herringbone-patterned bricks, broken up with occasional Kufic inscriptions. The minaret narrows towards the top, cheating the perspective to make it appear taller than it is.

The main trunk of the minaret is composed of 16 herringboned crimps or semi-columns, reminiscent of traditional castle architecture, which continue through a band of sixteen arches and foliated Kufic, Koranic inscriptions to suggest that the minaret was double or even triple linked and that the present 22-metre construction originally reached an estimated height over 50 metres.

Considerable skill must have gone into applying the herringbone brickwork, set not only in curved ribs, but also in ever-decreasing diameters in order to narrow the minaret. A vertical inscription given pride of place on one of the ribs names the architect as one Ali ibn Mohammed of Serakhs (in modern-day Turkmenistan), while another dates the construction to 1108-1109 AD and the rule of Sultan Sanjar.

The pleasant village of Jarkurgan is refreshed by the waters of the Surkhan River and has a traditional Sunday market.