Uzbekistan - Heart of Central Asia
Travel to Uzbekistan
One of the lesser travelled destinations around the world for Indians, Uzbekistan offers a whole lot more than one could imagine. A truly culturally rich country, you will find on display in some of Central Asia’s most rewarding sites and most alluring natural scenes. What’s more, the people are infectiously friendly and hospitable, there is warmth from all around.
The Republic of Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country surrounded by five others namely Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. While the majority of its economy is focused on producing commodities such as natural gas, the government has slowly paved the way for the country’s expansion in the tourism industry. Because many of the cities in Uzbekistan were part of the Silk Road route, the country has become rich in terms of cultural and historical treasures that have been well-preserved.
Uzbekistan offers adventurous travellers the chance to step away from the mainstream and dive in deep. With rugged landscapes, futuristic cities, cultural triumphs and a history that spans epochs, Uzbekistan is a place where you can sleep in a desert-bound yurt, marvel at modern architecture and shop for covetable, bespoke handicrafts. For something totally different, you can discover the remote romance, rich history and irrepressible charm of Uzbekistan.
The capital of Uzbekistan, the city is a blend of modernity and a rich cultural heritage. On one side, the new town captures the imagination, with modern streets, beautiful parks, and rich culture, while on the other hand it has elements of the more traditional life on the other side of the city. It is a big city, so it takes some time to explore, but you have to visit the Old Town. There is so much culture and life on display there, it is easy to get carried away: quaint authentic restaurants for the adventurous traveller, the Chorsu Bazaar for the shop-aholic, and the Hast-Imam Complex showing off the city’s more devout side.
Places to visit: Khazrat Imam complex from the 16th century with The Koran of Othman Khalif (the 7th c) library and museum, The Independence Square, Amir Temur’s Square, The Monument of Courage, TV Tower, People’s Friendship Square and Abdul Kasim Madrassah from the 19th cent, Applied Arts Museum, Chorsu Bazaar
For the more adventurous type of traveller, Chimgan is the best place to be in Uzbekistan. This place is actually a huge skiing complex located in the Chimgan Mountains and is being surrounded by hotels and cottages thus making it a very convenient place to visit. Chimgan is 90 Kms away from Tashkent city.
During the winter, the Chimgan Mountains draw in visitors who do not just want to go skiing but also want to try out snowboarding or riding in a toboggan. Spring also continues to attract visitors since the mountains allow for rock climbing and sky surfing. In the summer, guests in the Chimgan Mountains may choose to admire the majestic landscapes either by riding a horse of by flying on a para-glider.
While Tashkent is appealing, it does not quite quench the thirst for a more cultural tourist; that is where Samarkand comes in. One of the oldest cities of the world (about 2,500 years old), Samarkand has witnessed the evolution of urban humanity, and has etched that history all over its streets and buildings. You will be treated to the spectacular mesh of Indian, Iranian, Mongolian, and even a bit of Roman influence as you explore its beauty. The breath taking Bibi Khanum Mosque, the Sherdor Madrasah, the Musoleum of Gur-Emir among many other cultural sites will leave you breathless, Sha-i-Zinda, a mausoleum of impossible beauty and architectural feat, definitely one of the most under-rated sites in the world!
For accommodation, the hotels scene is also quite tasteful, and you can choose to stay somewhere modern Hotel, or a place with a touch of the orient. Wherever you are it is impossible to ignore the allure of one of the world’s greatest meeting of cultures.
Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in the world, an age mate of Rome, Athens and Babylon. For 25 centuries of its existence the city went through many great and dramatic events. Samarkand saw Saka and Massaget, Greek and Macedonian, Karakitai, Arab and Genghis Khan Conquests. During the reign of Tamerlane, Samarkand became the capital of its vast empire.
Sightseeing includes Ulughbek Observatory, Central Samarkand market (Sells interesting dry fruits and halwah), Gur Emir Mausoleum, Happy Bird Art Gallery, Tilla Kori Madrasa, Mausoleum Khodja Daniyar (Saint Daniel), Settlement of Afrosiab, and Museum. Paper Mill visit at Konigil village near Samarkand. Art Café, Sufi House, Registan Square, Bibi Hanum mosque and Shahi Zinda. And not to be missed the magical light show on "Registan" square.
Another amazing reason to visit Samarkand is your travel on the Bullet train Afrosiyob which takes 2 Hours and 30 minutes for a 350 Km journey.
The fascinating city of Bukhara must be Uzbekistan’s most exotic locale, with its people and culture alike carrying on ancient traditions that date back thousands of years, to when Bukhara was a key stop along the Silk Road. This is a place that feels more like Istanbul or Morocco than Asia, a desert city boasting mosques, minarets and bazaars.
One can travel through Samarkand for Bukhara by car or can also travel by train / fly by air with daily connections.
Bukhara city, like the popular Samarkand, is home to a slew of signature mosques and madrassas, but the feel of the city itself totally different from Samarkand or anywhere in Uzbekistan. Its narrow streets and plentiful markets, with vendors sporting welcoming smiles who could speak a jaw-dropping array of languages, will charm you to the core.
Places to visit: Picturesque Samanid Mausoleum, one of Central Asia’s most esteemed architectural sites, and the resting place of a powerful 9th-century Emir, the Bolo Khauz mosque, built in the 18th century, consisting of a reservoir, Friday mosque, and a minaret. Just opposite stands Bukhara’s most impressive site: the Ark Fortress, with its huge city walls and interesting museum contained within. The Ark was built as a military structure and housed various royal courts, Abdul-Azizkhan Mosque, an unusually ornate set of structures which date back to the 16th century; Toki Zargaron, known as the dome of jewelers and forgers, and Lyabi Khauz Place, which once housed the treasurer of the local Emir. Hauz actually means pond, and Lyabi Khauz is one of the few remaining ponds that has survived in Bukhara, Char Minor- The iconic structure with its four distinctive dome towers.
Bukhara, is a shopper’s paradise, full of handicrafts that have been sold here for generations. Their top commodity: carpets. Locally-made, imported from Afghanistan and the Caucasus region – here, there were carpets galore. Uzbek Suzanis, handmade tribal embroideries, Also for sale is beautiful and unique jewellery, saddles, ropes, knives, silk scarves and robes, intricately-detailed ceramics, and much more.
Not to be missed - Wine Tasting at Taki Zarrafon, an old Caravan Sarai, Tea at the 600 year old Silk Road Spices Choikhana, Dinner and folklore show at Nadir Divan Begi.