In 1380, at the same time as the construction of the Ak-Saray Palace, the construction of another monumental complex, known as Dorus-Saodat, began in Shakhrisabz. Of the Dorus-Saodat ensemble, the Jahongir Mausoleum and the tomb of Amir Temur, where he was never buried, remain to this day. The reason for the construction of the memorial complex was a sad event – in 1376, Temur’s eldest son, Jahongir, whom the ruler loved dearly and was preparing as his heir, died unexpectedly in his twenty-second year. The people of Samarkand mourned the unexpected death of the heir to the throne, “the handsome prince, the valiant soldier, flashed on the earth like a rose”. The prince himself fell into a deep depression.
The body of Jahongir, who died in Samarkand, was transported to the ancestral home in Shakhrisabz, where it was buried in a hereditary cemetery in the area of ancient Shakhrisabz Shahristan. Amir Temur probably thought of building the mausoleum here for himself and his descendants at that time. However, it was not until four years later, after the conclusion of the campaign to Khoresm, that construction of the burial complex began. A mausoleum was built over the prince’s tomb and a medrese was attached to it, which became the philosophical and spiritual core of the entire complex. Some researchers have interpreted the name of the complex as “lessons in power” in Arabic. According to the Arab historian Malikho, the madrasa did not survive. It was destroyed in the 17th century on the orders of Abdullakhan.
Archaeological excavations on the site of the Dorus-Saodat complex in Shakhrisabz revealed that Ziyaratkhona – a memorial hall – adjoined Jahongir’s mausoleum from the east. South of the mausoleum, the portal niche of the madrasa was found with a span between the abutments of more than 20 metres. From the portal, a corridor led into the courtyard of the medrese with the remains of the walls of the hujshras. Facing the courtyard were deep aiwans fitted with sufas. The stone slabs that paved niches of aiwans and a portal have been preserved. The Dorus-Saodat madrasa was originally intended not for education but for cultic-memorial functions. The plots of land, manors and flourishing gardens were allocated to the waqf of the madrasa, whose revenues were used to maintain the dynasty’s tomb. According to Ruy González de Clavijo, the medrese and mausoleum of Jahongir were richly decorated with gold, azure and tiles. The garden with water basins was also laid out here. In 1394, during the siege of a Kurdish fortress in Iran, the second son of Amir Temur, the twenty-nine-year-old Umarshikh, was killed. His body was also taken to Shakhrisabz and buried in Dorus-Saodat. Every day, on Temur’s orders, twenty boiled mutton were brought to the madrasa to commemorate the souls of his sons who were buried there.
Amir Temur ordered a tomb to be built for himself, but it remained unfinished. In 1404, he visited it and remained dissatisfied, saying that the entrance in it was low and ordered it to be changed. The mausoleum intended for Amir Temur was not preserved, but through historical documents and as a result of archaeological research in the area of the Dorus Saodat complex, the tomb of Amir Temur was found. It is one of the most remarkable, majestic and magnificent buildings of Amir Temur’s era. According to descriptions by contemporaries, the glittering luxury of the above-ground premises of the Ziyaratkhona contrasted with the asceticism of the underground crypt. After descending the steep stairs from the south side of the tomb, one finds oneself in a small room of less than 40 square metres. The walls, floors, dome and arches supporting it are made of light grey marble limestone blocks. In the centre is a marble sarcophagus set into the floor, covered with a huge monolithic marble slab 11 centimetres thick with five iron rings at the corners and in the centre. On the walls in vaults and medallions are the suras from the Qur’an and inscriptions in Sülüs’ handwriting that read, “The dominion belongs to Allah. Only Allah is eternal”, “Good is in Allah’s hand and He is mighty in all things”. Fate decided at its own discretion and the burial place of Sahibkiran became Gur-Emir in Samarkand.
The Dorus-Saodat complex is one of the most romantic and mysterious architectural ensembles in Shakhrisabz.