The minaret is located on the northwest side of the Tekesh mausoleum in Kunya-Urgench, Uzbekistan. Named after Qutlugh Timur (1321-1333), the governor of Khorezm for the Golden Horde Khanate, the minaret is all that remains of the city's original Friday Mosque complex. Based on archaeological evidence and material dating, Russian historians hypothesize that the construction of the minaret had started as early as the eleventh century under governor Abu-Abbas Mamun (1009-1017) and completed between 1321-1330 by Qutlugh Timur.
Built on a three-meter deep foundation, the minaret has survived many fires and earthquakes over its lifespan. It is presently sixty meters tall (originally sixty-five), with a base diameter of twelve meters that tapers to three meters at the top. Historians believe that the upper shaft, which is mostly destroyed, served as a lighthouse and watchtower in addition to being used for the prayer call. The structure is constructed and clad using mud brick, which is articulated in eighteen decorative bands separated by single courses of vertical bricks. Of the eighteen, there are three surviving inscriptive bands in Kufic style (originally six). First translated in 1928, the lowest inscriptive band attributes the minaret to Qutlugh Timur while the two upper bands are carved with Quranic verses. Only traces remain of the blue glazed tiled decoration.
The minaret is entered through an arched doorway on its west face, which is seven meters above the ground level and was accessed from an adjoining structure. The spiral stairwell has a hundred and forty five steps (to the top). Only the two doorways have remained of the balcony that was located at the height of fifty-one meters. The stairwell has no windows. Today, the minaret dangerously leans northwest towards the Tekesh Mausoleum. Although the site was recently landscaped, a structural repair of the structure and restoration initiative is in order.
Ancient Kune-Urgench was considered one of the major cities of the East. The scientists who studied the topography of Gurgench/Urgench considered that the territory was as large as 1000 hectares in the X-XIV c.c. AD. This site is presently protected by the Government. It occupies 640 hectares.
Legend tells that the town Kine-Urgench was destroyed and re-built seven times. Beginning 1681 AD, Kune Urgench came under the control of Arab rules. Between 1017- 1034 AD , Kune Urgench was governed by Ghaznavids. Abu-shtegin, a turkish slave, founded a new state which lasted until 1221 AD. In 1221 Urgench was destroyed by the Mongols. In 1321, the town was annexed to the Golden Horde. In the middle of the 14 c. Hussein Sufi, a Qongart Turk, founded the Sufi Dynasty with the support of the Khan of the Golden Horde. In 1388 the town was destroyed by Temur Link, and lost a status of a city. In 1646, when the Amu-Darya river changed its course, life stopped here.
After the construction of the canal Khanyap by the Khans of Khiva, the town was re-born.
Minaret of Jam, Afghanistan.
The circular minaret rests on an octagonal base; it had 2 wooden balconies and was topped by a lantern. It is thought to have been a direct inspiration for the Qutub Minar in Delhi, which was also built by the Ghurid Dynasty. After the Qutub Minar, the Minaret of Jam is the second-tallest brick minaret in the world.
The Minaret of Jam belongs to a group of around 60 minarets and towers built between the 11th and the 13th centuries in Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan, ranging from the Kutlug Timur Minaret in Old Urgench (long considered the tallest in existence) to the tower at Ghazni. The minarets are thought to have been built as symbols of Islam's victory.
The Minaret of Jam is probably located at the site of the Ghurid dynasty's summer capital, Firuzkuh (Firuz Koh). The 12th and 13th century Ghurids controlled not only Afghanistan, but also parts of eastern Iran, Northern India and parts of Pakistan.
The Arabic inscription dating the minaret is unclear - it could read 1193/4 or, more likely, 1174/5. It could thus commemorate the victory of the Ghurid sultan Ghiyas ud-Din over the Ghaznevids in 1192 in Delhi, or the defeat of the Ghuzz Turks at Ghazna in 1173. The assumption is that the Minaret was attached to the Friday Mosque of Firuzkuh, which the Ghurid chronicler Juzjani states was washed away in a flash-flood, some time before the Mongol sieges. Work at Jam by the Minaret of Jam Archaeological Project, has found evidence of a large courtyard building beside the minaret, and evidence of river sediments on top of the baked-brick paving.
The Ghurid Empire's glory waned after the death of Ghiyath ud-Din in 1202, as it was forced to cede territory to the Khwarezm Empire. Juzjani states that Firuzkuh was destroyed by the Mongols in 1222.
Jam is located at the confluence of the Hari Rud and Jam Rud, about 215 km to the east of Herat, in Ghor province of central Afghanistan. The site is 1900 m above sea-level, with nearby mountain peaks reaching nearly 3500 m. The harsh winters are often followed by severe flooding as the snows melt; the summers are hot and dry. With little flat land available along the scree-covered valleys, local people struggle to survive in a subsistence economy.
The inhospitable climate and terrain make it all the more remarkable that Jam was once the centre of a huge empire - scholars generally agree that Jam is ancient Firuzkuh, the summer capital of the Ghurids.
Qutub Minar, India.
Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193, but could only complete its basement. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more storeys and, in 1368, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth and the last storey. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tuglak are quite evident in the minaret. Like earlier towers erected by the Ghaznavids and Ghurids in Afghanistan, the Qutub Mahal comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by balconies carried on Muqarnas corbels. The minaret is made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The Qutub Minar is itself built on the ruins of Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Jat Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi.
Many historians believe that the Qutub Minar was named after the first Turkish sultan, Qutb-ud-din Aibak but others contend that it was named in honour of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a saint from Baghdad who came to live in India who was greatly venerated by Iltutmish. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firuz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351–88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489–1517). Major R.Smith also repaired and restored the minaret in 1829.