Chor Minor or “Tower of Thieves” is a visiting card of Bukhara. It was built by rich Halif Niyaz-kul. The madrasah was named after his name, but name did not stick.
According to legend, Halif Niyaz-kul was impressed with beauty of Taj Mahal in India. He decided to construct similar building in Bukhara. That’s why, sometime Chorminor is named as Taj Mahal of Bukhara.
The construction is located right behind the Labi Hauz among residential buildings. The exact date of its construction is unknown. According to one source, it was built in 1807. The other source said madrasah of Halif Niyaz-kul existed at the end of the 18th century.
In front of Chor Minor Madrasah, there is a yard with small pond – hauz. There are several hudjras in the sides of the building.
Architecture of Chor Minor Madrasah is unique. It looks more like the gate. Despite this, Chor Minor is an independent and complete building. It has at least two functions – ritual and habitation.
The main building with four corner towers is a mosque. Small minarets have blue domes. Each tower has its own form and decorative finishing, reflecting ideas of four global religions.
People can see the cross, Christian fish and Buddhist prayer wheels. For many centuries, the storks had their nests in all four minarets. This was considered as a good sign.
Interior design of the mosque is simple and without extravagance. Existence of dome says that sufi rituals took here, including declamation, singing and instrumental music.
The second floor and minarets served as store rooms. Once there was a rich library. Apparently madrasah accommodated from 15 to 20 students.But there is no darshanas (classrooms) and oshhona (dinning room). We can only guess of their existence. By the way, this was ordinary thing for madrasahs of Bukhara. As they frequently were used just as student dormitory.