It is located in Vakhsh Valley (100 km to the south of Dushanbe). Some sources mention Kurgan Tyube in the 7th century, others do it much later. The city perches in the top part of the valley in the center of a rich oasis. The territory of modern Kurgan Tyube was known as Khuttal and city itself - as Levakand or Vakhsh in the Middle Ages. These places were famous for good shots and special breed of sheep.
Near Kurgan Tyube, on the coast of the river Vakhsh is an interesting historical place - the ruins of ancient settlement Lagman (10th -13th centuries). In the middle of 20th century the archeologists found there the pipes of an ancient water pipeline, the brick wells, and fortifications with towers. This city used to be a large settlement of ancient Bactria and occupied a relatively big territory of 43 hectares.
12 km to the east of Kurgan Tyube stands a hill named Ajina-Teppe with the remains of Buddhist monastery built in the 7-8th centuries (sanctuaries, cells, vessels, sculptures, wall paintings) including a 12-meter figure of the lying Buddha.
Today Kurgan Tyube is one of the largest cities of the republic, the regional center of Khatlon area. There are several large industrial enterprises, universities, colleges, licea, hotels. Not far from the city there is an airport, the new railway station has just been opened.
To find out about the history of the place one can in the Museum of History and Local Lore. The total number of its collection makes up 700 items. The museum "tells" the original story about the past and the present of the city. The main attraction of the museum is Teppai Kurgon and Rastai Kosibon diorama. First comes the picture showing the past of Vakhsh Valley where there was nothing but the burnt ground, the ruthless sun and rare caravans. Then before the eyes of spectators there is beautiful panorama of the new valley - with cities and modern buildings. The museum's collection contains a lot of the most interesting data related to national crafts of Tajiks such as suzane embroidery, ceramics, wooden and copper items.
Ajina-Teppe (Buddhist monastery)
Located 12 km from Kurgan Tyube is the district named by local inhabitants as Ajina-Teppe. It can be translated as «the Devil's hill", "the Hill of Evil Spirit". Probably such an attitude to this place among the local residents was caused by the unattractiveness of this place surrounded from three sides by aryks, thick undergrowths, bumps and pits. It came out as a surprise when archeological excavations which started in 1961 resulted in 500,000 artifacts: sculptures, reliefs, wall painting fragments of a uniform complex of dwelling and cult rooms belonging to the 7th - 8th-century Buddhist monastery. The archeologists determined that the monastery in Ajina-Teppe consisted of two parts (the temple and monastery), two rectangular yards surrounded by buildings and strong walls. One of yards had the Greater mortar (a construction for storage of relics or for marking of sacred places). In the yard's corners there were smaller mortars of the same form as the Greater one. The monastery was richly decorated; its walls and vaults were covered with paintings. The walls had niches where both small and bigger statues of the Buddha used to stand (his image prevailed in Ajina Teppe sculptures). But the most sensational find in Ajina-Teppe became a huge clay statue of the Buddha in Nirvana found in 1966 in one of the monastery corridors. Only the bottom part of the figure, from waste to soles, was intact. The upper part of the sculpture turned out to be badly damaged. All other fragments of the sculpture were found separately. The restoration of the statue started in the same year and lasted until 1978. After that the work stopped and didn't begin until 2000. Today the sculpture of Buddha in Nirvana is exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan in Dushanbe. That is the biggest sculpture of the Buddha in the world, which was found in the territory of modern Central Asia.
In 1952 the archeologists started exploration of a place near Kurgan Tyube named Khisht-Teppa ("the Brick Hill"). Presumably there had to be the site of the "vanished" medieval capital. The entire area (about 70 hectares) abounded with pieces of pottery and glass, ceramic and metal slag, and fragments of burnt bricks. According to historians Hulbuk's structures were made from these materials.
The further excavation proved that it was on this hill, in the center of Hulbuk, where the palace of the local ruler used to stand. The inspection of the remains of the citadel which was a part of the palace revealed that it stood on an even platform; its walls were made of mud bricks and tiled with burnt ones. The palace consisted of big rectangular rooms and long wide corridors. The parquet-like floors were laid with burnt bricks. The palace was richly decorated: the walls and ceilings were covered with wall paintings showing warriors, musicians and musical instruments as well as alabaster carving in the form of vegetative and geometrical patterns, Arabian inscriptions, images of fishes and mythical animals. The further excavations revealed that under the palace, dated the 11th century, there are some earlier structures which mean that the palace was constructed on the debris of another. It was also found that in the ancient city there were a sewer, water and heating systems with brick ducts and ceramic pipes. The rooms were heated by means of big jugs, khums, dug into the floor. A jug filled with hot wood coal gradually heated the floor. One of significant finds in Khuttal' were huge Hulbuk ivory chess figures. The archaeologists found 20 intact and 8 half-destroyed ones.
Ajina-Teppe (Buddhist monastery)