Afghanistan – The Land of the Minaret of Jam

Posted in History Around The World | September 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

As the River Hari gurgles down the Ghor Province in the district of Shahrakh, anyone would be enthralled by the sight of the Minaret of Jam. Today a World Heritage Site under the UNESCO, this minaret rising up to 65 meters in height is today a magnificent construction, in Afghanistan, and has mountains on all sides that reach up to a height of around 2,400m. Existing since the 11th century, this has been made of baked bricks. The lovely stucco work and the decoration of glazed tiles, has beautiful bands with calligraphy written on them. The Nashkhi and the kufic forms of geometric patterns of calligraphy have been imbibed here and there are Quranic verses here.

Forgotten by the public for many years, it was Sir Thomas HOldich who rediscoverd this architectural elegance in the year 1886. He was employed with the Afghan Boundary Commission and after him in the year 1957, Andre Maricq and Gaston Wiet two archaeologists from France worked on it. Then there was Werener Herberg who came here for surveys in the 1970s . However in 1979, the intrusion of the Soviet invasion cut this place off from the world.

The year 2002 saw the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan get some recognition and due when it was brought under the World Heritage Site in Danger category. There was lot of looting at the minaret site and the condition was very precarious.

Resting on a base which is shaped like an octagon, this minaret in Afghanistan has two balconies made of wood and there is also a lantern at the top. In fact, it is believed that the Qutub Minar, took inspiration from the Minaret of Jam. It is therefore no wonder that this wonder in Afghanistan is today the second tallest minaret made out of brick in the world.

Afghanistan is a place having around 60 minarets which were built in the 11th and the 12th centuries. The Minaret of Jam is one of the 60 minarets. Minarets in Islam history were considered to be victory symbols and the towers were basic watchtowers. Whatever ruins remain at the Minaret of Jam today, show a palace, and forts along with a pottery kiln, a cemetery for the Jews . In fact, it is also believed that Jam was earlier the city Turquoise Mountains which is believed to have a lot of wealthy.

Today, with the problems like soil erosion, earthquake and floods increasing, the minaret in Afghanistan is facing lot of problems. The tower has started having an incline but there is also work on to stabilize the leaning structure in Aghanistan.

The Arabic writing in the minaret written in the 11th century is not readable today. It could be the commemoration of the victory of Sultan Ghiyas, or the defeat of the Ghuzz Turks, or anything else.

Friday mosque of Firuzukh was held here in this minaret. Archaeological evidence also reveals that there was courtyard here earlier, besides talking about the river deposits here.

With all these features, the minaret of Jam in Afghanistan is worth a visit.

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