Nadir Divan-Begi Khanaka, Bukhara

Nadir Divan-Begi Khanaka, Bukhara

Nadir Divan-Begi Khanaka, situated at the western end of the Lyab-i Hauz ensemble in central Bukhara, is a sufi lodge or retreat that dates back to the 1620s. It was established by vizier Nadir Divan-begi, who was the maternal uncle of Imam Quli Khan, the ruler of Bukhara from 1611 to 1641.

The khanaka is part of a trio of buildings surrounding a pond, known as Lyab-i Hauz, which gives the ensemble its name. The pond was fed by the Shah Rud canal to the south. Following the urban planning principle of kosh, the vizier arranged for two public monuments to face each other across the pond: the khanaka and a madrasa, both bearing his name. The third monument, located to the north, was the older Kukeldash Madrasa, built in 1568-69.

The khanaka served as a gathering place for Sufis to conduct their daily prayers, known as salat, as well as specific ceremonies associated with different Sufi orders. The central hall, called the zikr-khana, functioned as a mosque and featured a large mihrab (niche) on the qibla wall, facing Mecca to guide worshippers in the correct direction. The mihrab is considered the most beautiful element of the design, adorned with intricately decorated muqarnas (stalactite vaults) painted in various colors.

During the 17th century in Bukhara, the zikr-khana also served as a meeting place for the city's elite and the resident Sufi masters of the khanaka. Here, notable individuals would participate in Sufi rituals and listen to teachings on Sufi doctrines. In front of the mihrab, a niche contains two nondescript doors on either side, leading to hujras (cells) located in the corners of the building. These cells served as dormitories and private retreat spaces.

Apart from the ornate mihrab, the rest of the domed hall is whitewashed, although it is believed that additional decorations may have been present originally. Today, the hall houses a museum of ceramics.

The exterior of Nadir Divan-Begi Khanaka features modest ornamentation, except for the monumental pishtaq on the east facade. The pishtaq is covered in mosaic faience tiles arranged in geometric and floral patterns. Tile bands with calligraphic inscriptions frame the edges of the portal on three sides. While much of the tile work has been restored, it is worth noting that early 20th-century photographs show significant wear over the centuries.

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Nadir Divan-Begi Khanaka on Map

Sight Name: Nadir Divan-Begi Khanaka
Sight Location: Bukhara, Uzbekistan (See walking tours in Bukhara)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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