Tim Allakulikhan and Caravanserai



Tim Allakulikhan and Caravanserai


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In the middle of the XIX century it was decided to fill the lake, which appeared as a result of runoff wastewater here. Numerous historical accounts tell that more than 40 days, the inhabitants of Khiva peppered the artificial pond with ground. Then the place was thoroughly stamped, and on top of a large market square was built. In the vicinity of the trading point a mansion was built with a Charbagh garden, with numerous decorative and fruit trees. Some historical facts indicate that at the bottom of the entire complex there was a grain market, which later was replaced by grocers, fishmongers and so on. Since its foundation, the market in Khiva sold soap, fruits, vegetables, grain, fish, candles, bakery products.


Numerous services, which enjoyed great popularity among local residents, were not left here without attention. They were:

  • Trading houses;
  • Barber shops;
  • Points of slave selling;


The formation of active foreign trade relations with the regions of the East, South and North helped the growth of this market significantly, as the city was one of the main stopovers on the Silk Road. A harem and a 2-storey caravanserai were built. Over time, one more trading center and a shopping arcade with several domes appeared here. Subsequently, a largely controversial decision, according to historians and architects, was made. In the area of the market square the Madrassah of Allakulikhan was built violating the general architectural appearance of the whole place.


Commerce actively promoted the development of the area.The caravanserai was similar to a classic Bukhara covered market (Tim). In order to create maximum convenience for the leaders of trade caravans arriving here from different countries, it was decided to erect western and eastern gates. Near the gates there was a large two-storey trading house, which included nearly 105 rooms (cells). The lower part of the building was a trading place for many merchants, and the top floor comprised of bedchambers.


Overall architectural design of the building included a large patio and lots of cells in 2 floors. Historians say that all khujdras (cells) were built so that their façade overlooked solely to the patio. However, the second row of cells does not obey this rule, which overlook a large shopping area.


The architects did their best so that the building surprised by its size and architectural delights. For example, the passage to the courtyard was visually limited by large portals, the wings of which had stairs that allowed reaching the upper floor.


Many art historians and architects acknowledge that Caravanserai had many things in common as well as different features in comparison with a classical madrasah:

  • In order to get into the Madrasah one needs to get around it, but to enter the Caravanserai, you simply enter through the central gate;
  • In the madrasah the level of the floor does not change, but in the caravanserai it was slightly lowered to alleviate the packing of the goods.


Over time, it became clear that this caravanserai physically could not be both a trading platform and a hotel. Permanently increasing flow of goods forced the local authorities to build in the vicinity of the trading area another classical trading center, located in the southern part of the complex. Despite the fact that these days it may seem that such the buildings of Tim and caravanserai are closely related, even today one can find elements of the old portal of the caravanserai and its corner towers.


The history of the construction of Tim


Numerous research groups, conducting dozens of investigations have concluded that the construction of a covered trading center (Tim) included a number of unique elements. Firstly, two rows of small domes converge in front of large gates. Secondly, a similar dome was located in the western gate of the covered trading center.


The geometric shape of the erected domes requires a special attention. In those early years, 4/6 cornered forms of the dome base were rarely used, but this did not prevent the architects from cleverly fitting them into the overall layout of the building. To create natural lighting builders decided to add unique holes in the domes.


In this covered trading pavilion not only Asian but also Russian, English, European and other entrepreneurs were busy with trade. It was quite common to find here:

  • Classical silk belts,
  • Famous jewelry of all shapes and sizes;
  • Cloth, manufactured in England;
  • The lightest cotton quilts;
  • Bukhara boots;
  • Porcelain products made in China;
  • Sweets, spices and tea;


Those early years they were already thinking about the order in the market. A special caretaker, called Rais had the right to inspect any scales that were used by traders. If a trader or buy violated the rules of trade, the violator was immediately punished in public in the central square by whipping with a big whip.


Caravanserai also had several special facilities similar to modern exchange offices and a market management:

  • Devonkhona, a room for the state officials who had the right to set the value of the goods brought here.
  • Devonbegi were administrators, who had the right to charge a fee (tamga) for the right to import / export of goods and trade as such. All the funds incoming to the budget of the caravanserai, were transferred not to the treasury of the Khan, but were used to maintain a large library of AllaKuli Khan (built in 1835);
  • The “sarrof” room was the place where specially trained people carried out currency exchange operations. There finance chiefs, Divanbegi, collected “tamga puli”, a set fee for stamping, branding, which provided an access to import and export, and the sale of goods.


Modern architects who have decided to maintain the old building, conducted necessary repair work in it. As a result, the current "Caravanserai” was opened.




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