At last the ambitious Mohammed Amin Khan had built his pride and joy - an extravagant and prestigious madrassah such as had never been seen before in all Khiva. However his madrassah needed a minaret, but not just any minaret would do. The Khan wished to build the tallest and most impressive minaret the Muslim East had ever known in order to snub his rival, the Emir of Bukhara, whose Kalon Minaret was the tallest in Central Asia. In fact, Mohammed Amin Khan wanted his minaret to be so tall that he could enjoy a view of Bukhara on a clear day.
Plans were drawn up and building duly began. By 1855 the minaret had reached a height of 26 metres but suddenly construction stopped and was never resumed. The cause? Here are a few of the theories circulating today....
One story goes that the Khan's wily architect made a clandestine pact with the Emir of Bukhara who was plotting to build an even larger minaret. This was an unforgivable scheme which, upon the Khan's discovery, resulted in the hapless architect being thrown from the Kaltor Minor for his treachery. Worse still, the architect survived the fall and the merciless Khan had him hauled back up to be thrown off again and again until he eventually died.
Some maintain that the Khan, determined to ensure his minaret remained the architect's best and final work, was plotting the poor man's demise. When the architect caught wind of this plan he promptly turned into a bird and flew away to freedom and safety, leaving the fuming Khan with an unfinished masterpiece.
Others state that the Khan, realising that the finished minaret would provide the mullahs with a bird's-eye-view of his harem, promptly ordered a halt in building while shuddering at the thought of mullahs gaping at his unveiled beauties five times a day.
The most likely theory is that the vision for such a huge (and expensive) project died along with Mohammed Amin, who met his end during one of his many campaigns against the Turkoman tribes. One afternoon the Khan was resting in his tent when a stealthy group of Turkomans managed to creep past his entourage and brutally decapitate him. They swiftly escaped with his head which they sent as a gift to one of his enemies, the Shah of Persia. The following two Khans were also murdered in fairly quick sucession and later Khans became preoccupied with wars, harems and other demands. As a result the Kaltor Minor was never finished and remains so to this very day.