Zurmala: name of a Buddhist stupa near modern Termez in southern Uzbekistan.

Zurmala Stupa

Buddhism benefited from the fact that in the first century BCE, the Punjab, Gandara, and Bactria were united in one state, the Kushan Empire. The religion spread from the south to the north, and from the valley of the Oxus along the Silk Road to China and, eventually, Japan.

There were many Buddhist monastic settlements in Kushan Bactria. Near Termez, one of the main towns on the banks of the Oxus, was surrounded by a dozen monasteries, including Kara Tepe and Fayaz Tepe. To the east of ancient Termez was the stupa of Zurmala, which was built in the first or second century CE.

The cylindrical tower, which had a diameter of more than fourteen meters, originally stood on a platform (now underground) and is about twelve meters high. All in all, it must have been some sixteen meters high. Made of tiles and bricks, it has not withstood the elements very well; the stupa of Shingerdar, which has the same dimensions, is in a much better condition. In the upper half of the stupa was a room to store sacred scriptures.

This page was created in 2017; last modified on 18 August 2020.