From 22nd October to 31st October 2022, we (Bappa da and his daughter Tanwi, Debdatta da and Gobindo) went to Uzbekistan.
Day 0: CCU (0530)>Delhi> Almaty, Kazakstan (15 55 hrs ) : 22nd Oct 2022
Day 1: Almaty>Tashkent 10 50 hrs (Sightseeing : 6-7 hours) : 23rd Oct 22
Day 2: Tashkent>Chimgan>Tashkent (Sightseeing : 6-7 hours) : 24th Oct 22
Day 3 : Tashkent>Nukus-Khorezm desert-Urgench - Khiva : 25th October 22
Day 4 : Khiva – Kyzl Kum Desert>Bukhara : 26th October 22
Day 5: Bukhara (Sightseeing : 6-7 hours) : 27th October 22
Day 6: Bukhara>Samarkand (Sightseeing: 6-7 hours) : 28th October 22
Day 7: Samarkand > Shakhrisabz> Samarkand (Sightseeing: 4-5 hours): 29th October 22
Day 8: Samarkand > Tashkent : 30th October 2022
Day 9: Tashkent >Delhi : 31st October 22
Day 10: Delhi > CCU : 1st November 22
Since I was not in the pink of health, for last 4 months (since 21st May), due to my knee joint pain, I planned this tour at the last moment. The plane fare by that time sky rocketed due to the Ukraine war. I had limited options. Uzbekistan was in the bucket list for many years. During Durga Puja, the plane fare was also almost 80% of the normal price, but we got a good deal during Kali Puja. Normally I do not travel during Kali Puja, after a long tour during Durga Puja. This time it is different. I went for a short relaxing trip of Maldives during Durga Puja with Mohua (when the fare was cheap, surprisingly). The visa in Europe was also delayed due to heavy rush (because of revenge tourism after Covid) !
The contents of this blog, are taken from various sources, written in Italics and credits are given at the end. But I did not find any blog where I got all the information, I was looking for. The popular blogs are silent about the Shakespeares and Newtons of Uzbekistan. The more I got to know about the contribution of Uzbekistan towards Medicine, Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, history and religion, I felt like a উজবুক - how little we know !
The contents of this blog, are taken from various sources, written in Italics and credits are given at the end. But I did not find any blog where I got all the information, I was looking for. The popular blogs are silent about the Shakespeares and Newtons of Uzbekistan. The more I got to know about the contribution of Uzbekistan towards Medicine, Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, history and religion, I felt like a উজবুক - how little we know !
WHY UZBEKISTAN ?
'Uzbekistan has been the main stopover for countless civilizations traveling east and west, while exchanging goods, ideas, and knowledge. Uzbekistan’s geographic location allowed it to play a key role in the Silk Road (114 BC – 1450 AD). In the first millennium BC, caravans crossing miles of unwelcoming deserts from China to the bazaars of Europe found their oasis in the ancient Uzbek cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, and turned them into major trading hubs and centers of cultural exchange. Traders not only transported materials such as ivory, silk, and gold, but also religion and philosophies. The Central Asian cradle of culture, Silk Road history, Caravansarais, and traces of great conquerors from Genghis Khan to Amir Timur and more are just a few reasons to travel in Uzbekistan. From the opulent Registan in Samarkand to the twisting alleys of cute old city of Khiva, Uzbekistan is a land of onion domes, grand archways, and towering minarets. Samarkand is one of the reasons why I decided to come to Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan is home to the 3 most important Silk Road cities, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Timeless mosques and historical buildings define a characteristic skyline in every city… needless to say, it’s an architecture buff’s wet dream.
Travelling in Uzbekistan and strolling down its old cities is like going back to the past. The country offers more than just jaw dropping architecture. The bazaars in Tashkent dishing out horse sausages and the destruction of the Aral Sea region (can be explored from Nukus), Uzbekistan is a country with many faces. Uzbeks are some of the friendliest people in Central Asia. In places like Khorezm desert, we barely saw any tourist.'
'In the 16th century, as ocean trade flourished, the Silk Road cities began to decline. Uzbek khanates soon entered into wars with Iran, and in the 18th century, all of them were controlled by Nader Shah of Persia. Then, in the 19th century, Russia, drawn by the commercial potential of the region, began a full military conquest of Central Asia. In 1924, Uzbekistan became a part of the former Soviet Union/USSR, and although the country has found its identity back after its independence in 1991, there are still strong Russian influences around the country today. Primarily, Russian is still one of the main languages spoken in the country (particularly among elders), and Soviet-style architecture is found throughout the country, standing alongside majestic Islamic buildings.'
If you are from India you are likely to have celebrity status. You will get numerous selfi requests.
'It was once a country with very strict visa policies for foreigners, Uzbekistan is, by far, one of the most tourist-friendly country in Central Asia. Those nationalities which can’t get a VOA – and that includes nationals from the USA and India – have been granted the right to receive an electronic entry visa for a period of 30 days. In our case our travel agent in Uzbekistan did it for us. It’s a very easy process which only costs 20 USD, takes less than a week and this is the official website. We paid 21.5 USD for the visa. If your country of citizenship isn’t on any list, you’ll need to apply for a visa at the Uzbek Embassy.
Uzbekistan lifted all Coronavirus-related restrictions. As of October 2022 travelers arriving in Uzbekistan no longer need to present a negative PCR test result.'
But Air Suvidha (google it) and vaccination certificate is required. Hard copy of e-visa is required at the Delhi airport.
ECONOMY AND AREA
The average monthly wage in Uzbekistan is $250. The size of Uzbekistan is 448,978 Sq Km. It is 1/7th of India and nominal per capita income is only 2243 USD (Kazak is 4 times richer), somewhat same as India ! Salary in Private Sector and Govt sector is more or less same. Military training is compulsory for 1 year. Military job is coveted since it pays 500 USD per month. All the people get pension between 100-200 USD depending upon the years of service rendered. It is, however, inflation adjusted Pension.
CURRENCY IN UZBEKISTAN
'It’s a cash-only economy, meaning your cards are often useless except in high-end hotels. There is a currency exchange office in the airport that offers a good exchange rate if you have US Dollars. There is no need to go outside the airport to exchange USD. In Uzbekistan, they use the Uzbek Som (UZS). You can use the Xe.com app to convert and stay up-to-date with the current exchange rates. The current exchange rates is ( $1 USD = 11,170 UZS
Banknotes circulating in Uzbekistan: 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 som.' Coins are hardly used. We did not use any coin. A quick way to calculate is knock off two 0s and then make it 80%.
'In some Shops, restaurants and hotels you can also pay with Euro and US dollar. Visa is probably the most widely accepted credit card. Be sure the money you want to exchange is clean and crisp and can’t be torn'.
COSTS OF TRAVELING IN UZBEKISTAN
'Accommodations: $20 – $40 USD per night -budget / $40 – $65 USD per night Mid range / $65 – $100 USD per night high-end
Food is 2-3 USD in Restaurant, if you are bit frugal.
Taxis: $1.25 USD for a 10 minute ride.
SIM card: $3 USD (2 GB) with Ucell.' Our travel agent gave free sim card to all of us.
The food is really reasonable. In a good restaurant you can have Beef/Lamb Shashlik for 20,000 – 22,000 Uz Som i.e. 2 USD and Non/Nan for 5000 Uz Som – which is normally enough for 1-2 people. Unlike Europe I did not have to scratch my head to find food at a reasonable price.
(Turkic peoples descended from agricultural communities in Northeastern China and wider Northeast Asia, who moved westwards into Mongolia in the late 3rd millennium BC) and Persian people who lived along the country’s borders and Turkic-Mongol nomads. Uzbek people generally have Mongoloid features'. the whole Central Asia, you also find plenty of people from their neighbouring countries, including Russians, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and Tajiks. Kyrgyz and Kazakh people have stronger Mongolian features and Tajiks and Turkmens more of a Persian look. The Uzbek people of today hail from Turkic
'In general, the Uzbek people don’t speak English. People who work in the hospitality sector know a bit of English'.
The official language of Uzbekistan is Uzbek and Russian. Uzbek is a Turkic language and is closely related to Uyghur as well as Kazakh and Kyrgyz. Turkic languages originated in a region of East Asia spanning from Mongolia to Northwest China, from where they expanded to Central Asia. There are around 20 standard Turkic languages with a considerable literary tradition, including Azeri, Turkmen, Tatar, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Uighur. So if you speak some Turkish, it may help you understand Uzbek a little bit. Especially the numbers are similar. I have seen Chikish/çıkış (exit) and Girish/giriş (entry) in Uzbekistan , which I learnt while travelling in Turkey.
'Tajik is often spoken in Bukhara and Samarkand as these cities were formerly part of Tajikistan prior to their addition into the Soviet Union.Tajik is also common in the Uzbek Fergana Valley.
Russian is widely spoken and understood among most Uzbeks over the age of 30 due to Uzbekistan being a former state of the Soviet Union. The younger generation is less likely to speak Russian fluently. In most signboards Uzbek and Russian are written. English is not understood by most people.' If you can read the Cyrillic alphabet or you happen to know some Russian phrases, both would come in handy whilst traveling in Uzbekistan.
'You can learn a new language by using the audio classes of Pimsleur. This is a great learning method to study a new language like Russian.'
We learnt that many words, which we think as Hindi are actually Farshi, which they use. E.g. Darvoza (door), Garam (hot), Panch (5), Char (4), Shahar (city), Kala (Fort or Killa), Chasm (eye), Pahlwan (Strongman/Wrestler), Maydon (Park), Bazar (Market), Non (Nan or bread), Bogcha /Bagicha(Garden), Zargaron ( Gold), Hauz (Pond like Hauz Khas in Delhi)
You will frequently hear Da (Russian for Yes) and Niet (Russian for No).
We were greeted by Namaste in most places. They all recognize Indian profile. Almost all them seem to know Amitabh Bachchan, Sharrukh Khan, Raj Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty. Almost all of them know Jimi Jimi Aja Aja (same as Russia, where I visited in 2018), Mera Joota hai Japani.
USEFUL EXPRESSIONS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING UZBEKISTAN
- ' ‘Assalom alaykum’ translates as ‘hello’.
- ‘Salom’ means ‘good afternoon’.
- Xayr! means Good bye!
- It’s worth knowing at least one word in Uzbek : “rahmat” – “thank you”.'
More Russian words:
Spasiba - Thank you, Privet - Hello, Vogzal- train station (many stations are written as Vogzal in Uzbekistan)
excuse me - pardon, , Stancion - Station, Restaurant - Restoran, Voda - water, yes- da, No - niet, Tea-Cha, Coffee - Coffee, Road - ulitsa, Aftobus- Bus, Disevli Restoran- cheap restarurant, Very good - achin khoroso, Toilet is Toilet, Doroga - expensive, address- aadres, bad - plokhoy, friend - droog, house - Dom, mutton - myasa, fish is ryba . Dawai Dawai is Cheers, while drinking Vodka !
Russian script is called Cyrillic. It is named after Greek Saint Cyril . It is very close to Greek alphabet. Some alphabets are added to Greek alphabet. During the later part of my stay in Russia, I could read Russian with some difficulty. It is similar to English alphabet also, with some changes. C= S, so CCCP (= Союз Советских Социалистических Республик OR Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik) = USSR ) or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), P in Russian=R, Roubles is written as P, Nizhny starts with H (Ни́жний). So H in Russian is N in English. After H of Nizhny, it is N, so N (in reverse) mean i or y......Van Gogh (Ван Гог) starts with B , so B in Russian is V in English and Г is G.. so on so forth...In Russia without knowing Cyrilic - it will be a problem. R is Y in English.
Source: http://www.bomadg.in/2020/05/russia-y-romancho.html - my blog
Officially, most people are Sunni Muslims (88%), the Russian population (9%) being Christian Orthodox. However, like all ex-Soviet countries, religion is not a big deal. Our guide says around 30% are non practicing Muslim. Uzbekistan is a secular state which means that in theory, people can wear whatever they want. You’ll see many Uzbek women wearing beautiful colored scarves tied around their heads. This is a cultural thing and it’s mainly older Uzbek women who wear these.
1. Plov – Welcome to the world capital of Osh Palov in Uzbek Language. Plov is a Russian word and in English it is Pilaf. There are many kinds of and it varies by region. In . Actually it is called Tashkent, they even have a Central Asian Plov Center, a massive building serving only . It is a rice dish with raisins and meat in a light brothy sauce, which comes in different varieties.
2. Shurpa / Shorbo (Soup) – a light broth with potatoes, lamb, and vegetables. Lagman in noodles soup and Mastava is rice soup. Laghman is found everywhere. It is not like a Chinese soup. Naryn (noodles with horse meat) is found only in Tashkent.
3. Kazan Kebab – meat cooked on a Kazan (a cast iron casserole), then fried.
4. Sheesh Kebab / Shashlik – skewered meat and/or vegetables grilled, usually over an open flame. The word ‘shashlik’ comes from the Russian word for ‘shish kebab’. The dish is made with lamb / beef/chicken Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could try the grilled skewers with horse meat at Tashkent . You will get Shashlik all over Uzbekistan. We liked it a lot.
5. (dumplings – the smaller one is called Chuch-vara). You will find Manti in Turkey, Russia.
6. Somsa/ Samosa – In Uzbekistan ‘a’ is normally replaced by ‘o’. So it is pronounced as Samosa. It is either made with Pumpkin or Beef. It is more like Fried Shawarma. You will find Somsa in Turkey also - but not as widespread.
7. Dimlama (Uzbek stew made with various combinations of meat, potatoes, onions, vegetables, and sometimes fruits). I could not find it in spite of lot of effort.
Non/Nan/Traditional bread (tandir non) is particularly sacred in Uzbek culture. This bread is torn by hand. It comes in various shapes. Some of them are like bread.
9. Shivit oshi‘Shivit oshi’, also known as ‘khorezm lagman’ is an eye-catching Uzbek dish. Hand-pulled Lagman noodles are infused with fresh dill which gives them their distinctive bright green color. The dish originates from .
10. Tea culture in Uzbekistan
'Tea deserves a separate post. Uzbek people are really big tea drinkers. Green tea or ‘Kuk-choy’ is served in a bowl and all meals start and end with tea'. Sometimes it comes for free.
'The culture of drinking tea is very much alive there and you can’t escape it really.' Since I am from West Bengal (where world’s best tea is produced) and finicky about orthodox tea, I found the tea rather ordinary. Tea in Uzbekistan is grown locally, as well as from different surrounding countries, such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Ceylon. When ordering a tea you will be served a pot, usually enough for 3-6 cups. Usually you can expect to pay 5,000 – 10,000 Soms for the pot. Tea is never served with sugar, so if you add it you need to ask for it and sometimes even pay extra. We have never paid for the sugar.
One blogger has written “ I’m a vegetarian and I was expecting Uzbekistan to be a country of meat lovers, where I would have issues finding something for myself. I was so wrong. I managed to find vegetarian options of all the best Uzbek dishes without any problems at the touristic spots”. We ate only non vegetarian dishes throughout the tour.
TIPPING: You don’t have to leave a tip in the restaurant as the service is automatically included in the bill. However, this is not mentioned on the menu and a lot of foreigners get confused or think they’re being overcharged once they receive the bill. Tipping isn’t expected in Uzbek culture, but it is always appreciated in restaurants etc.
To know more about Uzbekistan food read
For Khiva read this : https://thesandyfeet.com/things-to-do-in-khiva-uzbekistan-silk-road/
We tried all of them except point no. 7 and 3. Dimlama was not available in most of the places.
'Uzbekistan is the main wine-producing country in Central Asia. A significant part of the Central Asian wine is exported by Uzbek winemakers. You can buy and drink alcohol in restaurants in larger touristic cities such as Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. It’s not always mentioned on the menu but if you ask the waiter/waitress for a beer or bottle of wine, they’ll usually have it'. There is a wine tour in Tashkent. We did not avail it for lack of time.
- I wouldn’t advise you to drink tap water in Uzbekistan. Buy bottles of water in the local supermarkets or better, bring a small bottle to refill it in the hotel .
- I use and recommend all-in-one Universal Travel Adaptor as you can use it worldwide.
- You have to bring your passport with you to buy a SIM card. In our case our travel agent gave a free SIM card for all of us.
- In some places, especially in Samarkand, you have to pay extra if you want to take photos (with a camera, not with your phone). But there is no general rule about it. In Samarkand, the cobbler made me delete his photo.
- Drones are prohibited in Uzbekistan . We were specifically asked in the airport, if there is drone in our luggage.
- Maps.me: This is a very practical app to find your way in Uzbekistan. You can download the city map of the country for offline usage. I used in Budapest and Czech Republic. The app gives you accurate directions and shows you where you can find the nearest restaurants, bus stations, ATM, hotels, places with wi-fi, points of interest. It also tells you the number of the bus you need to take when you travel within a city.
- Wikiroutes: Wikiroutes is a handy app if you travel by public transportation. It shows you the bus and/or metro route and tells you where to hop on and off.
- Google Translate: Translates written and spoken Russian or Uzbek. Only Russian is available to download for offline usage.
- Xe currency: a very handy currency conversion app that always uses the latest rates in effect. It’s useful to keep track of how much things cost in Uzbekistan. This app also works offline.
- Booking.com: No other app comes close to it in terms of inventory and price.'
TAXIS / SHARED TAXIS IN UZBEKISTAN
Every car is a potential taxi in Tashkent ! 'Uzbek taxi drivers are a legend and not in a positive way. One of the most common scams in Uzbekistan is getting overcharged by taxi drivers. It starts as soon as you arrive at the airport or at any land border. Shared taxis have set places of departure, and leave when full. To find shared taxis, ask your guesthouse where the shared taxi for your destination leaves from'.
' Yandex is the Central Asian version of Uber'. We used this app to get around Samarkand in Uzbekistan by taxi without having to bargain for the price.We have used it 4 times. You can use it even in Georgia. You can pay in cash after the ride. The rates are reasonable. The app functions like Uber. You can see the rates before booking.
Just as easy is traveling around by shared taxis between cities. Depending on where you're headed you'll need to go to a specific taxi stand in town to find a shared taxi to the place you're going. Ask your accommodation or a local and they'll know where to go. You can use a share taxi @5000 Some or half USD approx within the city. But there might be language problem. Make sure you negotiate a price before you get in a car. We once used Shared Taxi in Samarkand. A shared taxi is a taxi that you share with usually 4 to 5 other passengers. It doesn’t have a fixed schedule but leaves once the taxi is full. They leave from a fixed location which is often near a bus station or just outside of a city. A trip of 2 to 3 hours to another city will cost you around 60.000 UZS, depending on how good you are at bargaining.
Taking a shared taxi used to be the only way to travel from Urgench to Khiva. You can even travel between Khiva and Bukhara by shared Taxi. It will cost around 8 USD for an 8 hour drive.
You’ll also see many minibuses racing around the cities. The most common ones are the ‘Damas’. It is like a mini van.
'The best time to visit Uzbekistan is in Spring (mid-April – beginning of June) or Autumn (mid-September – beginning of November). In winter it is below 10 degrees and in summer it is above 40 degree Celsius'. When we travelled in October it was around 7-15 degrees during the day. In fact in Shakri-sabz it was actually hot.
'Uzbekistan is fairly easy to get around in. Most tourist sites are reachable by train. Visit the Uzbek Railways website to see schedules or download the UZRailways Ticket App . You can book and pay for train tickets online through the app'. In our case, our tour operator did it. I have read it was very complicated before. I can’t say how it is now.
There are 3 types of trains : the , the and the . Sharq train is faster than night train and but slower than Afrosiyob. Night train can even take 15 hours or more. 'The first two trains were really comfortable, similar to fast trains in Europe like Thalys, Eurostar, TGV.' The fastest speed I’ve seen on the screen was 250 km/h
KEEP YOUR REGISTRATION PAYSLIPS
'All hotels will give you a registration slip on the last day, that proves that you stayed there. You are likely to be asked for all your registration slip when leaving the country. Basically, they are extremely paranoid and need proof of your actual itinerary. This means that, if you stay at friend’s places/couchsurf, you would need to stay in a hotel every two days, at least'. Thankfully we were not asked about it in the airport.
STAYING IN A YURT CAMPS IN UZBEKISTAN
'Some of the people in Karakal-pakstan still live in yurts for part of the year as they are culturally much closer to Kazakhs and Turkmens than to Uzbeks'. There are some desert yurt camps (Tents) near Ayaz Kala . These have been specifically set up for tourists.
IS A TOUR AGENCY NECESSARY ?
You can do everything on your own. However I have read, booking train tickets were a big problem. It is further compounded by language in train website. In Russia I did everything on my own. But since language problem is a major issue, it is better to engage a local reliable travel agency like Global Connect, at a very reasonable rate, to make it absolutely hassle free. Please remember very few people understand English in Uzbekistan (except those in Hospitality Industry). It is not so tourist friendly like Thailand. Most cities do not have metro and bus service is limited. No wonder not many tourist visit Uzbekistan compared to its potential.
I booked the tour from a local travel agent, Global Connect, based in Uzbekistan. They ( firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Whatsapp : +998 94 180 00 01 ) have very good rating in Tripadvisor and are very strongly advisable. They almost did a flawless tour. If you can manage a group of 5-6 people, then I would suggest to leave it to Global Connect . We paid 700 USD per head for 8 night, 9 days tour (for a group of 5 people) , which included all transportation, accommodation, pick up and drop, water, entry fee and breakfast but excludes Lunch and Dinner. Plus visa fees of 20 USD. They did everything for getting the visa. We took a print out of the e-visa. At this moment I am not in a position for a hectic tour.
We had paid around 15% upfront through the link sent by them - www. sendmoney24.com. It was bit complicated to register in this website. You have to scan FULL PAGE of the Passport page. Though the initial tour plan changed, due to non availability of plane, they did not charge us more to keep their commitment. We spent only 50 USD per head for lunch and dinner for the entire tour. The food is really cheap here. Only 1 dinner and 1 lunch was provided by them. The breakfast is given in all the hotels. The spread in all of them were good. Everything was perfect. Their guide Akmal (Tashkent), Abdunazar (Chimgan), Salomat (Khiva) and Munisha (Bukhara) are really good. There is absolutely nothing to complain. No wonder they have such a high rating in Tripadivsor.
I would not recommend you to club any other Central Asian tour with Uzbekistan. The price here is more or less similar to India. In fact you cover our itinerary; I think there is no need to visit any other country in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan). I cannot comment upon Azerbaijan.
WHAT TO BUY IN UZBEKISTAN
'There are tons of souvenirs you can bring home from Uzbekistan, including beautiful ceramics, wood carvings, carpets and miniature paintings'. But I found the souvenirs very expensive almost at par with Europe, until I visited Siyob Bazar in Samarkand.
Day 0: CCU(0530)>Delhi>Almaty, Kazakstan 1555 hrs : 22nd and 23rd Oct 2022
We left at 0245 hours to catch the flight at CCU at 0530 hours. We did not book any cab before. In Delhi they asked print out of Visa which our travel agent has sent.
It is visa on Arrival for Indians now. You don’t even need to carry a photograph or hotel accommodation. After reaching the apartment, which we have booked from Agoda, the owner said it is not vacant. It is only 250 metres from the airport. So we had to go back to the airport to book a motel, by using the wifi of Almaty airport. The helpful person in the information counter booked a taxi (Old Mercedes, like Morocco !) for us by using Yandex (he also gave a free Kazak Chocolate !). We exchanged only 11 Dollar to get Tenge at the airport to avail the Taxi to the motel and back to the airport next day. The motel is just beside a Petrol Pump – around 3 Km from the airport. We had to hire 2 Taxis. We got some cup noodles and biscuit from the nearby Departmental Store by paying through our Credit Card . Some of the restaurants do not accept Credit Card. The lady (she danced in Bollywood tunes sung by us ! So it is very popular here) at the motel boiled the water for us, so that we can eat the cup noodles.
Day 1: Almaty>Tashkent 1050 hrs (Sightseeing : 6-7 hours) : 23rd Oct 2022
We took one Taxi and all of us (5 people ) went inside to go to the Almaty Airport to catch the 930 hrs flight ! We exchanged the remaining Tenge at the airport.We spent 6 USD for 3 rides (airport-hotel-airport) only !
‘You can easily reach the Uzbekistan from neighbouring Kazakhstan with Air Astana. Which is, incidentally, one of the best airlines, I’ve ever flown with. Both their economy and business class service was phenomenal. In a world where airlines seem to be cutting every corner possible, it was nice to see that a snack and drink are included on even short economy flights’. I used Air Astan while going to Turkey. It is simply world class.
There is a direct flight to Tashkent from Delhi by Air Uzbekistan. But their days of travel did not suit us. Moreover it is not so highly rated.
10:50 Arrive in Tashkent. GLOBAL CONNECT driver to meet at the Tashkent International Airport. Start sightseeing from the Old City part of Tashkent.
Visit Khast Imam - a cultic architectural complex and the religious center of Tashkent where the world famous Uthman Quran has been preserved. Khast Imam complex consists of Barak-Khan Madrasah, Tillya Sheikh Mosque, Muyi Muborak Madrasah, Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, New Khazrati Imam Mosque and the Muftiate building.Drive to Chorsu Bazaar. After exploring the bazaar drive to the Central Asian Plov Center. Plov is cooked in a giant, wood-fired kazans.
Visit the State Museum of Applied Art to see priceless samples of applied art created by golden hands of masters from the first half of XIX century up to the present time (we did not have to time to see this).
Have a short Tashkent metro ride from "Kosmonavtlar" station to "Mustakallik Maydoni" station. Visit Independence Square, Alisher Navoi State Academic Bolshoi Theatre (we did not have to time to see this., Amir Temur Square & Museum and Monument of Courage.
At Broadway street, street artist and painters display original artwork (there are many shopping centres, fashion shops, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes are located on and around the Broadway).
Drop off at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
The land along the upper Amu-Darya (Oxus River), Syr-Darya (Jax-artes River) and their tributaries has always been different from the rest of Central Asia – more settled than nomadic. The region was part of some very old Persian empire Achaemenids founded by Cyrus the Great (6th century BC), including Bactria (part of present day Afganisthan), Khorezm and Sogdiana.
In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great entered Cyrus the Great’s Achaemenid empire. He stopped near Marakanda (Samarkand) and then having conquered the Sogdians in their homeland mountains, married Roxana, the daughter of a local chieftain.
Out of the northern steppes in the 6th century AD came the Western Turks – the western branch of the empire of the so called Kök (Blue) Turks. They soon grew attached to life here and abandoned their wandering ways, eventually taking on a significant role in maintaining the existence of the Silk Road
The Arabs brought Islam and a written alphabet to Central Asia in the 8th century but found the region too big and restless to govern. A return to the Persian fold came with the Samanid dynasty in the 9th and 10th centuries. Its capital, Bukhara, became the centre of an intellectual, religious and commercial renaissance.
In the 11th century the Ghaznavids moved into the southern regions. For some time the Turkic Khorezm shahs dominated Central Asia from present day Konye-Urgench in Turkmenistan, but their reign was cut short by Gengis Khan in the early 13th century. Central Asia again became truly ‘central’ with the rise of Timur (also known as Tamerlane), the ruthless warrior and patron of the arts who fashioned a glittering Islamic capital at Samarkand.
Little is known of early Uzbek history. At the time the Golden Horde (from Mongolia) was founded , Shibaqan (Shayban), a grandson of Gengis Khan, inherited what is today northern Kazakhstan and adjacent parts of Russia. The greatest khan of these Mongol Shaybani tribes was Özbeg (Uzbek, ruled 1313–40) - probably the one under whom swapped paganism for Islam. By the end of the 14th century these tribes had begun to name themselves after him.
The Uzbeks began to move southeast, mixing with sedentary Turkic tribes and adopting the Turkic language; they reached the Syr-Darya in the mid-15th century. Following difference of opinion the Uzbeks rallied under Mohammed Shaybani and thundered down upon the remnants of Timur’s empire. By the early 1500s, all of Transoxiana (‘the land beyond the Oxus’) from the Amu-Darya to the Syr-Darya belonged to the Uzbeks, as it has since. The greatest (and indeed last) of the Shaybanid khans, responsible for some of Bukhara’s finest architecture, was Abdullah II, who ruled from 1538 until his death in 1598. After this Silk Road fell into disuse.
Tashkent ‘s one part is newly built national capital, thick with the institutions of power, one part is leafy Soviet city, and yet another part is sleepy Uzbek town, where traditionally clad farmers cart their wares through a maze of mud-walled houses to the grinding crowds of the bazaar.
By the time the Arabs took Tashkent in AD 751 it was a major caravan crossroads. It was given the name Toshkent (Tashkent, ‘City of Stone’ in Turkic) in about the 11th century. It grew more prosperous under the Shaybanids, the founding dynasty of what effectively became modern Uzbekistan, ruling from the mid-15th until the start of the 17th century.
‘For most, Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, is a rather underwhelming introduction to the country. The city isn’t blessed with the jaw-dropping architecture that brings tourists to Uzbekistan. Just bear in mind when planning your Uzbekistan travel that it’s worth spending less time in Tashkent, and more time in the rest of the country!’
‘I did not expect six-eight lane roads, high-speed cars, wide pavements, gardens and cafes at every nook and corner. It is true not only in Tashkent but in other cities too. Timur is celebrated, worshipped . It becomes clear that Uzbeks worship the Turco-Mongol emperor. Timur was the last of the great nomadic conquerors of the Eurasian Steppe, and his goal was to restore Genghis Khan’s great Mongol Empire. Timur created a huge army and led numerous campaigns extending his empire from the Volga River and Caucasian Mountain Ranges in the West to India in the South-West. Timur’s single biggest ambition was to restore the Silk Road and keep it under his control, which is why he fought large-scale wars with various nations and empires located along this enormously long route from West to East. According to the Uzbeks, it was Timur who “united” several countries and their citizenry, and is recognised as their “national hero”.’
‘The apps Maps.me and wikiroutes can help you to see which bus and route to take to your hotel. Bus # 67 goes straight to the city center.
When using the Yandex Go app, make sure you type in , or you’ll end up at the wrong terminal !
We started our tour with Khast Imam Complex.
'Khast Imam complex: Khast Imam complex consists of Barak-Khan Madrasah, Tillya Sheikh Mosque, Muyi Muborak Madrasah, Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, New Khazrati Imam Mosque and the Muftiate building. The official religious centre of the republic. A big renovation in recent years has left the complex looking better than ever. The Hazroti Imom Friday mosque, flanked by two 54m minarets, is a recent construction, having been ordered by President Karimov in 2007. Behind it is the sprawling Khast Imom Square. The Muslim Board of Uzbekistan, whose grand mufti is roughly the Islamic equivalent of an archbishop, occupies a new building to the north of the mosque. The primary attraction of the Khast Imom square is this Moyie Mubarek Library Museum , which houses the 7th-century Osman Quran (Uthman Quran), said to be the world’s oldest. This enormous deerskin book was brought to Samarkand by Timur, then taken to Moscow by the Russians in 1868 before being returned to Tashkent by Lenin in 1924 as an act of goodwill towards Turkestan’s Muslims. It is Tashkent’s most impressive and important sight. The museum also contains 30 or 40 rare 13th-century book.' Our guide helped us to read the word Allah in the book.
Souvenir shops occupy the student rooms of this 16th-century medressa located on the west side of Khast Imom square. Then we left for lunch.
Plov Center: It is the place to eat plov, Uzbekistan’s favorite national food, in Tashkent. When we reached there it is finished ! So we went to see the nearby Chorsu Bazar, although we were quite hungry
'Chorsu Bazaar: Tashkent’s main bazaar is a lively affair, with vendors selling everything from clothing to spices and vegetables.' We tried some Non/Nan and Kurt. Qurt or kurt, derives from the word for “dry” in many Turkic languages and is made by straining fermented milk from a sheep, goat, cow, camel until it’s thick enough to be rolled into balls and dried in the sun. Then we went to have Plov from a restaurant Chain.
Then we left for Amir Temur or Taimur Lang museum.
'Amir Timur Museum: Museum dedicated to the Taimur Lang or Amir Timur, who conquered most of Central Asia. A good stop for people interested in the man behind some of the most monumental buildings in the region, and founder of the Timurid empire.' We did not have time to go to State Museum of Applied Art, since we reached Tashkent at 1050 hours.
Then we went to see the Amir Timur Square - it is the main square of the city. In fact before the statute of Amir Timur was installed, it was changed number of times before – from Marx/Stalin etc to finally Timur. It is apparently the symbolic centre of Uzbekistan, as per our guide.
· Hotel Uzbekistan: 'Not far from the Amir Timur Museum/Amir Timur square is Uzbekistan’s most famous hotel: the Hotel Uzbekistan. I did not find it interesting'.
Then we visited "Broadway" street where some street artists and painters display their original artworks and Independence square. We did not have time to visit Alisher Navoi State Academic Bolshoi Theatre.
Then it was time to take the famous metro of Tashkent.
· Tashkent Metro: A remnant of the Soviet Era—and still expanding every year—some of the capital’s metro stations are works of art: especially Alisher Navoi and Kosmonatavlar. But if you have been to Moscow, then you can skip it surely. I did not find it exceptional.
Our day ended with a visit to Monument of Courage.
We had dinner at the nice restaurant near our hotel.
Day 2: Tashkent - Chimgan – Tashkent (Sightseeing: 6-7 hours) : 24th Oct 2022
Breakfast at the hotel.
09:00 Transfer to Chimgan Mountains with a driver. Arrive in Charvak. Walking in the mountains.
Take a cableway ride. Transfer to the shore of the Charvak Reservoir.
Visit unique petroglyphs and rock carvings made by prehistoric people.
Make some photo stops along the way to take in the views.
Transfer back to the hotel in Tashkent. Overnight at the hotel.
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
'Uzbekistan isn’t exactly famous for its mountains. Most of the country is rather flat and consists of desert, except for a small part north of Tashkent. There you will find the Chimgan mountains and the Charvak Lake. The Chimgan mountains and Charvak lake belong to the Ugam Chatkal National Park. The Chimgan mountains are one of the few places to visit in Uzbekistan where you will find pristine alpine meadows and ski resorts. It is therefore no surprise that this is a favourite weekend get away for people in Tashkent. In winter to go skiing and in summer to escape the heat in the city.’
It took 90 minutes to reach Chimgan. It is around 90 Km from Tashkent. We took a cable car to go to the top.
Then we visited unique petroglyphs
and rock carvings made by prehistoric people. We had our lunch there.
I would not say, this trip is not something to die for ,more so, if you saw Himalayas.
On the way back to our hotel, we went to a bank to exchange Uzbek Som and went to see Lal Bahadur Shastri square, who died in Tashkent. He went to Tashkent to sign a peace agreement between India and Pakistan on 10 January 1966, that resolved the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
## Andijan, capital city of the Ferghana Valley, lacks any must-see tourist sights. Andijan is also a decent base from which to explore the rest of the Ferghana Valley.The Fergana Valley has a tense feel to it as Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Kyrgyz all have strong feelings that the valley belongs to them. Margilan is the silk capital is at Uzbek Fergana valley. Babur was born in Ferghana Valley. But he was probably born in Kyrgystan. One can go to Ferghana vallley from Tashkent.
Day 3 : Tashkent–Nukus-Khorezm desert-Urgench-Khiva (Sightseeing : 5-6 hours) : 25th October 22
04:50 Transfer to the Domestic Airport.
07:15 Domestic flight to Nukus.
08:55 Arrive in Nukus and transfer to Khiva (170 km). En Route to Khiva, visit ancient fortresses of Khorezm - Chilpiq Kala, Kyzyl Kala, Toprak Kala and Ayaz Kala.
1630 – Arrive Khiva – Explore the Old city by foot on your own
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
We brought packed breakfast from our hotel in Tashkent.
I strongly recommend that your travel by plane to Nukus from Tashkent and then go to Khiva by car. ‘Nukus is the capital of the autonomous Karakal-pakstan region, a little-visited part of Uzbekistan. There is not so much to do in Nukus, except the Nukus museum of Art, which houses one of the finest art collections in Central Asia’.
‘Moynaq, an abandoned fishing village outside of Nukus, along the dried-up Aral Sea and Mizdakhan Necropolis (an ancient cemetery outside of Nukus with a mixture of Islamic and Zoroastrian influences) are two interesting places – which will be difficult to cover in a day.’ There are day tours from Khiva to these places.
The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest inland sea. Now, it’s a giant desert bed full of rusting ships. In the 1960s the Soviet Union diverted water from two of the region’s major rivers – Amu Darya and Sir Darya river to help irrigate their cotton crops. Although the project made the desert bloom, it also caused the Aral Sea to dry up. Today, there’s almost nothing left – and the rusting skeletons of abandoned fishing ships litter the eerie desert landscape.' We saw cotton cultivation in many places in Uzbekistan.
Moynaq is further North of Khiva, while Urgench, Khiva is South of Nukus. Urgench is capital of Khorezm province. ‘The Amu-Darya delta (Khorezm), stretching from southeast of Urgench to the Aral Sea, has been inhabited for millennia and was an important oasis. long before Urgench or even Khiva were important. The historical name of the delta area (which includes parts of modern-day northern Turkmenista too) was Khorezm. The ruins of many Khorezmian towns and forts, some well over 2000 years old, still stand east and north of Urgench in southern Karakalpakstan’.
But by getting down at Nukus, you can pass through the Khorezm desert and see the forts/Kala/Killa (in Hindi) on the way to Khiva - you don't have to come here from Khiva. So not only you save money, but also save precious time. According to one theory, Zarathustra was born in Khorezm region and there is a Zoroastrian burial place at Chilpiq Kala on the way to Khiva. People in these regions, including Khiva were Zoroastrians till 8th Century. Zoroastrians declined from the 7th century CE onwards as a direct result of the Arab-Muslim conquest of Persia (633–654 CE), which led to the large-scale persecution of the Zoroastrian people. Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians in the world at around 110,000–120,000 at most, with the majority of this figure living in India, Iran and North America;
After Chilpiq Kala we saw Kyzyl (or Qizil) Kala, Topraq Kala and finally Ayaz Kala. Ayaz Kala is the most famous one. I found Kyzl Kala quite interesting – it is similar to the mud houses in Mali. These long forgotten fortresses are scattered throughout the barren land. In fact there are many more fortresses too. It is an interesting detour from onion domes and blue tiles. This road is particularly picturesque due to fall colours of the trees.
However the road to Ayaz Kila is not great.
Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (locally known as Al-Khwarizmi ) was born here and regarded as father of Algebra - a word derived from the title of his book Kitab al-Jabr. He later migrated to Baghdad. That is why some people think he is from Iraq.
Polymath Abū Rayhān Al-Bīrūnī, better known as Al-Biruni was also born here. He lived during the Islamic Golden age (8th to 14th century). He travelled to the Indian subcontinent in 1017 when he was 44 years of age with Mahmud of Ghazni. Αl-Biruni was an astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, historian, linguist and studied physics and natural sciences too. He was the first able to obtain a simple formula for measuring the Earth's radius. He authored a study of Indian culture Tārīkh al-Hind (History of India). Al Beruni was the First Muslim Scholar to study India and its Brahmanical tradition. He is called father of Indology and the first anthropologist. India was visited by travellers from various countries like Megasthenes from Greece, Marco Polo from Venice , Xuanzang (alternately spelled Hiuen Tsang) and Faxian (alternately spelled Fa Hien) from China and Ibn Battuta was from Morocco etc. Al Biruni is one of the most prominent ones. He has written extensively about Indian Calendars, Indian rituals.
In fact Kushans (Kanishka is the most prominent king of Kushan), who ruled part of India, also came from this region.
On the way to Khiva falls Urgench, capital of Khorezm province. When the Amu-Darya changed course in the 16th century, the people of Konye-Urgench (in present-day Turkmenistan), were left without water and started a new town here in Urgench (Uzbekistan). Today travellers use Urgench mainly as a transport hub for Khiva, 35 km South-West. It’s also the jumping-off point for the ‘Golden Ring’ of ancient fortresses in southern Karakal-pakstan.
After reaching Khiva at 1630 hours we explored the Old city by foot on our own. Today we had Shivit Oshi in dinner at the Old Inner Walled city or Ichon Kala. Shivit oshi (green noodles) is a local specialty made with dill-infused dough. I had it in dinner with Gobindo.
Our hotel Qosha Darvoza is located very near Old Khiva. It was a hospital previously.
Day 4 : Khiva – Kyzl Kum Desert- Bukhara : 26th October 2022
08:00 Breakfast at the hotel.
09:00 start the walking sightseeing tour in ancient Khiva. Explore the walled inner town of the city of Khiva - Ichon Kala or Qala.
Visit Mukhammad Aminkhan Madrasah, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrasah, Kalta-Minor, Kunya-Ark, Juma Mosque, Tash-Khovli Palace, Minaret of IslamKhoja, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum.
1330 hrs Transfer to Bukhara by car through the Kyzyl Kum Desert (457 km). Enjoy the different views of the Kyzylkum desert. (We recommend you to take lunch-boxes for this trip.)
19:00 Arrive in Bukhara. Check in. Overnight at the hotel.
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
‘Legend has it that Khiva was founded when Shem, son of Noah, discovered a well here; his people called it Kheivak, from which the name Khiva is said to be derived. The original well is in the courtyard of an 18th-century house in the northwest of the old town. In 8th Century Khiva was a minor fort and trading post on a side branch of the Silk Road, but while Khorezm prospered on and off from the 10th to the 14th centuries, its capital was at Old Urgench (present-day Konye-Urgench in Turkmenistan), and Khiva remained a bit player. It wasn’t until well after Konye-Urgench had been finished off by Timur that Khiva’s time came. When the Uzbek Shaybanids moved into the decaying Timurid empire in the early 16th century, one branch founded a state in Khorezm and made Khiva their capital in 1592. The town ran a busy slave market that was to shape the destiny of the Khivan khanate for more than three centuries’.
Khiva, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a unique town in Uzbekistan. It’s so well preserved, it’s almost like a museum-city! The old town is a photographer’s dream. This town is not only Central Asia’s very first UNESCO World Heritage City, but it’s also one of the most intact Silk Road cities in the world. Tiny old town of Khiva (known as Ichon Kala or Inner walled city) has over 50 historical sites. However it can be easily covered by foot in 1 day. Most sights can be entered on a combined entrance ticket, sold at the main entrance to the old town’
Ichon-Kala: You’ll spend most of your time. Basically an open-air museum. Make sure to get up early one day to see the sunrise from the city wall.'
You can climb up the wall at the North gate Entrance through a stair case.
Minaret of Islam-Khoja: Islam Khoja minaret is one the symbols of Khiva. It dates back to the XIV century. The brickwork alternates with bands of glazed patterns on the minaret. The height of the minaret 56.6 meters. You cannot miss it.
Muhammad Aminkhan Madrasah: The largest madrasah in Central Asia now houses a luxury hotel, but is still a sight to behold.
· ‘Kalta Minor Minaret: Just south of the Kuhna Ark stands the fat, turquoise-tiled Kalta Minor Minaret. This unfinished minaret was begun in 1851 by Mohammed Amin Khan, who according to legend wanted to build a minaret so high he could see all the way to Bukhara. Unfortunately, the Khan dropped dead in 1855 and it was never finished, leaving the beautifully tiled structure looking distinctly unusual.Unfortunately it’s not possible to enter this unfinished minaret next to the Muhammad Aminkhan Madrasah anymore’. Regardless, it’s synonymous with Khiva and you can’t miss this blue coloured Minaret.
· ‘Kuhna Ark fort – the Khiva rulers’ own fortress and residence, first built in the 12th century by one Ok Shihbobo, then expanded by the khans in the 17th century. The Khans’ harem, mint, stables, arsenal, barracks, mosque and jail were all here.
Once inside the Ark, the first passage to the right takes you into the 19th-century Summer Mosque – open-air and spectacularly ornate with superb blue-and-white plant-motif tiling and a red, orange and gold roof. Beside it is the old mint, now a museum that exhibits bank notes and coins that were minted here. At the back right corner of the throne room, a door in the wall leads to a flight of steps up to the watchtower, the original part of the Kuhna Ark, set right against the Ichon-Kala’s massive west wall. It’s well worth paying the fee to climb up here – the city views are extraordinary.
‘Pahalwan (strongman or wrestler) Mahmud / Pakhlavan or Pahlavon Mahmud/ Makhmud Mausoleum: Another one of the few sights in Khiva ticketed separately, this mausoleum is an interesting stop. ‘This revered mausoleum, with its sublime courtyard and stately tile work, is one of the town’s most beautiful spots. Pahlavon Mahmud was a poet, philosopher and legendary wrestler who became Khiva’s patron saint. His 1326 tomb was rebuilt in the 19th century. The beautiful Persian-style chamber under the turquoise dome at the north end of the courtyard holds the tomb of Mohammed Rakhim Khan. Pahlavon Mahmud’s tomb, to the left off the first chamber, has some of Khiva’s loveliest tiling on the sarcophagus’. He went to India and got lot of fame. We saw circumcision ceremony of a child going on. The tomb of Allakuli or Allaquli Khan (1793-1842) is also in this complex.
· ‘Juma Mosque: The large Juma Mosque is interesting for the 218 wooden columns supporting its roof – a concept thought to be derived from ancient Arabian mosques. Six or seven of the columns date from the original 10th-century mosque, though the present building dates from the 18th century.’
· ‘Tash-hovli Palace: This palace, which means ‘Stone House’, contains Khiva’s most sumptuous interior decoration, including ceramic tiles, carved stone and wood. Built by Allakuli Khan/ Allakuli or Allaquli Khan (1793-1842) between 1832 and 1841 as a more splendid alternative to the Kuhna Ark’. This palace served as living quarters for his harem of 4 wives and concubines. The palace had hidden hallways for the Shah to be able to visit various women privately.
They are all within walking distance. We had our lunch in a restaurant in Ichon Kala. Gobindo did not join the tour with us. He went on his own in the Ichon Kala.
We left for Bukhara at 1330 hours and reached Bukhara at 1700 hours. We took a short break of only 7-8 minutes in between for refilling Petrol. Our car went through the picturesque Kyzyl Kum Desert. The road is generally good, except in few places , where repair work is going on. There was hardly any car except trucks. We covered 457 Km in 5 hours 30 minutes !
We had our dinner at the beautiful Old Khiva restaurant. Our hotel Yasmin, is conveniently located just beside the Old Bukhara.
'Train (Slow) from Khiva to Tashkent: 16 hours
· Flight from Khiva to Tashkent: 1.5 hours
· Train from Khiva to Bukhara: 6 hours
· Shared taxi to Nukus: 3 hours'
Breakfast at the hotel
10:00 Start the walking sightseeing tour in Bukhara.
Visit Lyabi-Khauz Complex, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Chor-Minor Madrasah, Trade domes, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, Miri-Arab Madrasah, Kalyan Minaret, Kalon Mosque, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Chashma-Ayub and Ismail Samani mausoleums.
At Nodir Devonbegi Madrasah Restaurant dinner with traditional Dance Show.
Overnight at the hotel.
(above is the tour plan by our agent).
'Although Samarkand is the grandest of Uzbekistan’s cities, Bukhara is the more historically significant of the two. Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara has buildings spanning a thousand years of history. It is full of medressas, minarets, a massive royal fortress and the remnants of a once-vast market complex. Government restoration efforts have been more subtle and less indiscriminate than in flashier Samarkand.
With over 2,000 years of history, the ancient city of Bukhara is the cultural and religious heart of Central Asia in the 8th century, when Arabs conquered Uzbekistan. The city also nurtured philosophers, poets, and scientists who became the Shakespeares and Newtons of the Islamic world. Among those nurtured here were the philosopher scientist Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980-1037 AD - father of early modern medicine) and the poets Firdausi and Rudaki.'
'Until a century ago Bukhara was watered by a network of canals and some 200 stone pools where people gathered and gossiped, drank and washed. As the water wasn’t changed often, Bukhara was famous for plagues; the average 19th-century Bukharan is said to have died by the age of 32. The Bolsheviks modernised the system and drained the pools, although it’s most famous, Lyabi-Hauz, remains a cool, mulberry-tree shaded oasis at the heart of the city.
It was as capital of the Samanid state (Persian empire) in the 9th and 10th centuries that Bukhara – Bukhoro-i-sharif (Noble Bukhara), the ‘Pillar of Islam’ – blossomed as Central Asia’s religious and cultural heart.
After 2 centuries under the smaller Karakhanid and Karakitay dynasties, Bukhara succumbed in 1220 to Gengish Khan and in 1370 fell under the shadow of Timur’s Samarkand. A second lease of life came in the 16th century when the Uzbek Shaybanids made it the capital of what came to be known as the Bukhara khanate.
The centre of Shaybanid Bukhara was a vast marketplace with dozens of specialist bazaars and caravanserais, more than 100 medressas (with 10,000 students) and more than 300 mosques.'
Our guide said she speaks farshi in her home. It is true for many families in Bukhara.
We started our tour with Nadir Divan-begi Medressa.
· ‘Nadir Divan-begi Medressa : The Nadir Divanbegi Medressa was built as a caravanserai, but the khan thought it was a medressa and it dutifully became one in 1622. It’s notable for its stunning exterior tile work, which depicts a pair of peacocks holding lambs either side of a sun with a human face, in direct contravention of the Islamic prohibition against depicting living creatures.’
· ‘Khoja Nasruddin monument is just in front of Nadir Divan-begi Medressa and is on the east side of Lyabi-Hauz is a a semi-mythical ‘wise fool’ who appears in Sufi teaching-tales around the world.’
Lyab-i-Hauz: 'Bukhara’s main square houses some exquisite buildings. Lyabi-Hauz, is a plaza built around a pool in 1620 (the name is Tajik for ‘around the pool’), is the most peaceful and interesting spot in town – shaded by mulberry trees as old as the pool.'
Then we proceeded to see the Covered Bazars near Lyab-i-Hauz.
· ‘Covered Bazaars : From Shaybanid times, the area west and north from Lyabi-Hauz was a market lanes , minibazaars whose multi domed roofs were designed to draw in cool air. Three remaining domed bazaars, heavily renovated in Soviet times, were among dozens of specialised bazaars in the town – Taki Sarrafon (moneychangers), Taki-Telpak Furushon (cap makers) and Taki-Zargaron (jewellers).
· Maghoki-Attar : Between the two covered bazaars, in what was the old herb and-spice bazaar, is Central Asia’s oldest surviving mosque, the Maghoki-Attar, a mishmash of 9th-century facade and 16th-century reconstruction. This is probably also the town’s holiest spot ; under it in the 1930s archaeologists found bits of a 5th-century Zoroastrian temple ruined by the Arabs and an earlier Buddhist temple. According to legend, the mosque survived the Mongols by being buried by locals in sand. Indeed, only the top of the mosque was visible when the digging began in the 1930s; the present plaza surrounding it is the 12th-century level of the town. If you climb the stairs inside the mosque for a view of the Zoroastrian remains. The charming staff will tell you that until the 16th century, Bukhara’s Jews are said to have used the mosque in the evenings as a synagogue.
Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs is near the Zargaron or jewellery market which falls on the way to Po-i-Kalon.'
We visited a shop of master blacksmith. The person in charge is the 8th generation of master blacksmith.
‘Po-i-Kalon: One of Uzbekistan’s greatest architectural ensembles, after Samarkand, the Po-i-Kalon houses the Kalon Minaret, the Kalon Mosque, Mir-i-Arab Madrasah. ‘Kalon Mosque and the Kalon minaret are also quite a sight to behold as you can walk around this spacious mosque admiring at the intricate craftsmanship of the Uzbeks .
Kalon Minaret was built by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan Khan in 1127, the Kalon Minaret was probably the tallest building in Central Asia – Kalon means ‘great’ in Tajik. It’s an incredible piece of work, 47 m tall and has stood for almost nine centuries. Genghis Khan was so dumbfounded by it that he ordered it to be spared. Its 14 ornamental bands, all different, include the first use of the glazed blue tiles that were to saturate Central Asia under Timur. At the foot of the minaret, is the 16th-century congregational Kalon Mosque, big enough for 10,000 people. Opposite the Kalon mosque, its luminous blue domes in sharp contrast to the surrounding brown, is the working Mir-i-Arab Medressa.’
Then we proceeded towards nearby Ark of Bukhara.
‘Ark of Bukhara: The spectacular-looking Ark, a royal town-within-a-town, is Bukhara’s oldest structure, occupied from the 5th century right up until 1920, when it was bombed by the Red Army. It’s about 80% ruins inside now, except for some remaining royal quarters, now housing several museums’. A massive fort is apparently not open to the public according to the guide.This area is also called Registan of Bukhara. Our guide said lot of treasures were found here.
‘Bolo Hauz Mosque: A stunning mosque with exquisitely decorated wooden ceiling panels and columns is near the Ark.’
‘Chashma Ayub Mausoleum : The peculiar Chashma Ayub mausoleum was built from the 12th to 16th centuries over a spring. Inside is a small water museum.’
‘Ismail Samani Mausoleum : This mausoleum in Samani Park, completed in 905, is the town’s oldest Muslim monument and probably its sturdiest architecturally. Built for Ismail Samani (the Samanid dynasty’s founder), his father and grandson, its intricate baked terracotta brickwork – disguises walls almost 2m thick, helping it survive without restoration for 11 centuries.’
With this our walking tour ended and we had lunch at a wonderful restaurant. After that we went to our hotel and shortly afterwards we left to see Chor Minar, which is near our hotel.
‘Chor Minor: Meaning “four minarets”, this charming little former madrasah now houses a souvenir stall. This little Char Minar, bears more relation to the Charminar in Hyderabad than to anything Bukharan. This was the gatehouse of a long-gone medressa built in 1807. The name means ‘Four Minarets’ in Tajik, although they aren’t strictly speaking minarets but rather decorative towers.’
They are all within walking distance. You can see Bukhara in one full day. Bukhara and Khiva is now connected by a train. If there is one place you have to skip because of inadequate time, then it will be Bukhara. You can spend an entire day just walking around the Lyab-i Hauz square, shopping for souvenirs and enjoying the traditional food on a roof-top restaurants.
Our dinner was arranged by our travel agent at Nodir Devonbegi Madrasah Restaurant - where we saw Traditional Dance Show.
· Train from Bukhara to Samarkand: 2-3 hours
· Shared taxi from Bukhara to Samarkand: 4 hours
· Bus from Bukhara to Samarkand: 5-6 hours
· Train from Bukhara to Khiva: 6 hours
· Bus from Bukhara to Khiva: 8 hours
· Shared taxi from Bukhara to Urgench (Khiva): 7 hours'
Day 6: Bukhara - Samarkand (Sightseeing: 6-7 hours) : 28th October 22
03:30 Transfer to the train station.
04:29 Transfer to Samarkand by high-speed train "Afrosiyob".
06:03 Arrive in Samarkand. Transfer to the hotel. Leave your luggage at the hotel (check in from 14:00) and meet the guide at 08:00.
Visit Gur-Emir Mausoleum, "The Pearl of Central Asia" - Registan Square, Bibi-Khanum Mosque and Siab Bazaar. Visit Khazrat Khizr Mosque, Mausoleum of the first President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis and Ulughbek Observatory, Mausoleum of Saint Daniel. Visit the "Meros" paper mill in Konigil village.
Overnight at the hotel.
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
'Samarkand is a definitive highlight of any trip to Uzbekistan. Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia and an unmissable highlight of Uzbekistan. A key Silk Road city, it sat on the crossroads leading to China, India and Persia, bringing in trade and artisans, half a dozen religions have found a home in Samarkand in the course of its history, and today, it’s listed as ‘Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures’ in the UNESCO World Heritage.
Samarkand, one of Central Asia’s oldest settlements, was probably founded in the 5th century BC. It was already the cosmopolitan, walled capital of the Sogdian empire when it was taken in 329 BC by Alexander the Great, who said, ‘Everything I have heard about Marakanda is true, except that it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined.’ Samarkand was called Markanda during the time of Alexander the great.
From the 6th to the 13th century it grew into a city more populous than it is today, changing hands every couple of centuries – Western Turks, Arabs, Persian Samanids, Karakhanids, Seljuq Turks, Mongolian Karakitay and Khorezmshah have all ruled here – before being obliterated by Genghis Khan in 1220.
This might have been the end of the story, but in 1370 Timur decided to make Samarkand his capital, and over the next 35 years forged a new, almost-mythical city –Central Asia’s economic and cultural epicentre. Timurid Empire, which brought a lot of the incredibly stunning Islamic architecture found around town today. His grandson Ulugbek ruled until 1449 and made it an intellectual centre as well.
When the Uzbek Shay-banids came in the 16th century and moved their capital to Bukhara, Samarkand went into decline. For several decades in the 18th century, after a series of earthquakes, it was essentially uninhabited. Finally Russians forced its surrender in May 1868 and linked it to Trans Caspian Railway 20 years later.'
'As one enters Samarkand, the enormity of Timur as the king, the famous Silk Road, the majestic Registan Square, which was at the centre of crafts and trade long before the Mongol invasion—all begin to take a grip. If Tashkent has gleaming skyscrapers, designer boutiques, exotic Shashlik joints with museums peppered all over, then Samarkand is about upholding the culture and the history of Uzbekistan, whose influence is spread from Delhi to Ankara.’
We reached Samarkand by fast train at 6.30 am from Bukhara and reached our hotel in Samarkand at 7 am and after taking some rest in the hotel room (the hotel graciously allowed us early check in) we were picked up (in Mini Van) from our hotel at 8 am by our tour guide. We started our tour from Gur-e-Amir.
'Gur-e-Amir: The mausoleum to Tamerlane or Taimur Lang is built in a distinctly Timurid fashion, with blue onion domes and plenty of elaborate tile work. Timur’s grave is actually buried in a vault deep below the main mausoleum. The interior of the mausoleum is decorated with gold, jade and onyx with solid decorative coating resplendent with rich and luxurious patterns and colours. The domes are decorated with green onyx covered by ornamental blue and gilded inscriptions.’ Around 400 metres from it is Registan square.
· Registan/Registon Square: 'The first time you see the Registan is a moment you won’t soon forget! Explore the remarkable Registan Square - the Pearl of Central Asia, a huge marble square with 3 Madrasahs mosques surrounding it. The 3 madrasahs that make up the Registan are a sight to behold. Hands down they’re some of the most incredible buildings in Central Asia. The three grand edifices here are among the world’s oldest preserved madrasahs, anything older having been destroyed by Genghis Khan.
Ulugbek Madrasah, on the west side, is the original Madrasah, finished in 1420 under Ulugbek (who is said to have taught mathematics here; other subjects taught here included theology, astronomy and philosophy). The other buildings are rough imitations by the Shay-banid Emir Yalangtush. There is a picture gallery at the Ulugbek Madrasah’s mosque
Sher Dor (Lion) Medressa, opposite Ulugbek’s was finished in 1636, is decorated with roaring felines that look like tigers but are meant to be lions, flouting Islamic prohibitions against the depiction of live animals. It took 17 years to build but hasn’t held up as well as the Ulugbek Medressa, built in just 3 years.
Tilla-Kari Madrasah - in between Sher Dor (Lion) Madrasah and Ulugbek Madrasah is the Tilla-Kari Madrasah,completed in 1660, with a pleasant, gardenlike courtyard. The highlight here is the mosque, which is on the left-hand side of the courtyard and is intricately decorated with gold to symbolise Samarkand’s wealth at the time it was built. Inside the mosque is a magnificent picture gallery featuring blown-up black-and-white photos of old Samarkand. Another interesting picture gallery is the Ulugbek Medressa’s mosque.
Many of the Madrasah’s former dormitory rooms are now art and souvenir shops. If you come during the day, note that your ticket is valid all day, allowing you to come back and photograph the complex at the various times of day needed for the sunlight to be coming from the right direction. However, tell the complex security guards if you’d like to do this, otherwise they will tear your ticket and you won’t be able to reuse it
Registan is best seen during either sunset or sunrise. They are lit after dark – which makes it even grander. There’s also a light show in the evening every once in a while; hang out a bit after sunset, to see if it’s on.’
Around 300 metres from Registan is the Bibi Khanym Mosque. The mosque was finished shortly before Timur’s death.
‘Bibi Khanum / Khanym Mosque: Once one of the largest mosques in the world, large parts of it were destroyed over time. Restoration efforts have given it some of its shine back. Our guide said that Bibi-Khanum, Timur’s Chinese wife, ordered the mosque be built as a surprise while he was away. The architect fell madly in love with her and refused to finish the job unless he could give her a kiss. When Timur learnt that he executed the architect and decreed that women should henceforth wear veils so as not to tempt other men.’
After that we had our lunch in a restaurant very near Bibi Khanum mosque.
· Siyob or Siab Bazaar: The largest bazaar in the country is right next to the Bibi Khanum mosque. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs at , sometimes, half or one third the price. I would suggest to defer the purchase of souvenirs till your reach Siyob Bazar.
At Siyob bazaar our group member “Ulug Bek” aka Gobindo went missing and finally we were reunited later at Shah-i -Zinda
Then we went to see the Hazrat Khizr /Khazrat Hizr Mosque, near Siyob Bazar and then Mausoleum of the first President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov – it was built in the territory adjacent to the Hazrat Khizr Mosque.
Then we visited the "Meros" paper mill in Konigil village around 9 Km from the there.
‘Meros paper mill in Konigil village : Today, in the village of Konigil near Samarkand, the Meros Paper Mill operates. Thanks to their efforts, the ancient tradition of making paper using ancient Samarkand technologies was revived at the local factory. Interestingly, all production is manual and each guest of the factory can personally observe the manufacture of paper.The place is picturesque beside the Siab river. As a raw material, the bark of a mulberry tree is taken. The bark is peeled from the outside and cooked in a large tub for a long time. Then it is beaten until it turns into a homogeneous mass in consistency similar to dough. Next, the resulting "dough" is placed in a tub of water, mixed and filtered with a special sieve. The strained mass is pressed onto flazelin sheets. Then the paper is removed from the sheets and dried in an upright position for 1 day.’
Then we went to see Ulughbek Observatory. ‘Mirza Muhammad Taraghay bin Shahrukh (bin Sharukh means son of Shahrukh), better known as Ulubek or Ulugh Beg (1394 –1449), was a Timurid sultan, as well as an astronomer and mathematician. His grandfather is famous Taimur Lang and father is Shahrukh. Ulugh Beg was notable for his work in astronomy-related mathematics, such as trigonometry and spherical geometry, as well as his general interests in the arts and intellectual activities. It is thought that he spoke 5 languages: Arabic, Persian, Turkic, Mongolian, and a small amount of Chinese. During his rule the Timurid Empire achieved the cultural peak of the Timurid Renaissance through his attention and patronage. It was considered by scholars to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world at the time and the largest in Central Asia. Ulugh Beg was subsequently recognized as the most important observational astronomer from the 15th century by many scholars. He also built the Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417–1420) in Samarkand and Bukhara, transforming the cities into cultural centers of learning in Central Asia. The crater, Ulugh Beigh, on the Moon, was named after him by the German astronomer Johann Heinrich von Mädler on his 1830 map of the Moon. Ulugbek, a main-belt asteroid which was discovered on 21 August 1977 by N. Chernykh at Nauchnyj, was named after him. The dinosaur Ulughbegsaurus was named after him in 2021.’
‘Ulugbek Observatory is one of the most significant observatories of the Middle Ages, built by Ulugbek on Kuhak Hill in the vicinity of Samarkand in 1424-1428. The observatory contained a grandiose goniometer oriented from north to south - a sextant (or quadrant) - on which measurements were made of the height of the celestial bodies above the horizon as they pass through the celestial meridian. The device is excavated and well preserved in the underground. Here, by 1437, the Gurgan zij (a catalog of the starry sky ) was compiled - in which 1018 stars were described. The stellar year length was also determined there: 365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes, 8 seconds, with an error of only + 58 seconds.’
‘However, Ulugh Beg's scientific expertise was not matched by his skills in governance. During his short reign, he failed to establish his power and authority. As a result, other rulers, including his family, took advantage of his lack of control, and he was subsequently overthrown and assassinated.’
Then we visited Mausoleum of Saint Daniel.
· ‘Mausoleum of St. Daniel (Khoja Doniyor) - According to legend the ashes of the Old Testament biblical prophet Daniel (Daniyar) are buried in the mausoleum, the remains of which were brought to Samarkand and buried by the Amir Timur (Tamerlan) from the city of Susa (the modern territory of the Iranian ostans of Khuzestan) during his campaign in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in 1399-1404.The mausoleum and the Khoja Doniyor complex are located in the northeastern part of the city of Samarkand, in the northeastern outskirts of the ancient city of Afrasiab, on a small hill, near the banks of the small Siab river.According to the historical books, the prophet Daniel (Daniyar) was one of the associates of Qusam ibn Abbas, who played a key role in the planting of Islam in Samarkand and its environs. In Christianity, the prophet Daniel is one of the so-called "great prophets", the author of one of the Old Testament biblical books - the books of Daniel. In Judaism, Daniel is also one of the revered prophets.’
Our final destination is Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis. Our “Ulu Beg” joined us here in Shah-i- zinda, with the help of Samarkand Police.
‘Shah-i-Zinda: Necropolis for many a ruler and their offspring. It offers a nice vantage point into the necropolis. Samarkand’s most moving and beloved site is this stunning avenue of mausoleums, which contains some of the richest tilework in the Muslim world. The name, means ‘Tomb of the Living King’. There is a grave of Qusam ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Mohammed who is said to have brought Islam to this area in the 7th century. Shah-i Zinda began to assume its current form in the 14th century as Timur and later Ulugbek buried their family and favourites near the Living King. After remarkably surviving more than seven centuries with only minor touch-up work, many of the tombs were aggressively and controversially restored in 2005. As a result, much of the brilliant mosaic, majolica and terracotta work you see today is not original. The most beautiful tomb is the Shodi Mulk Oko Mausoleum (1372), resting place of a sister and niece of Timur, second on the left after the entry stairs. The exquisite majolica and terracotta work here – was of such exceptional quality that it merited almost no restoration. Shah-i-Zinda to my mind is the most stunning place after Registan.’
Day 7: Samarkand - Shahrisabz/Shakhrisabz - Samarkand (Sightseeing 4-5 hours): 29th October 22
Breakfast at the hotel.
09:00 Transfer to Shahrisabz Drive through the Aman-Kutan Gorge and Takhta-Karacha Mountain Pass. On the way stop to take a view at Teshiktosh (Stone with hole). The film "Apachen" (1973) was shot on this location - an area that looks incredibly like the American Southwest. Short stop at the top of the mountain pass. There is a tiny market where some local dried fruits can be bought.
11:00 Arrive in Shahrisabz. Visit Mausoleum of Jakhongir in Dor-us Saodat Memorial Complex, remains of Ak Saray Palace, Kok Gumbaz Mosque.
15:00 Drive back to Samarkand
Overnight at the hotel
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
On the way to Shahrisabz (85 km) falls Aman-Kutan Gorge and Takhta-Karacha Mountain Pass. We stopped at Teshiktosh (Stone with hole). The film "Apachen" (1973) was shot on this location - an area that looks incredibly like the American Southwest.
We made a short stop at the top of the mountain pass. There is a tiny market where we bought some local dried fruits.
‘Shahrisabz is a small town south of Samarkand and is a lovely drive from Samarkand with some spectacular views of – Alpine meadows and mountain steppe (steppe in Russian means grassland). This is Taimur or Timur’s hometown, and once upon a time it probably put Samarkand itself in the shade. Timur was born on 9 April 1336 into the Barlas clan of local aristocrats, at the village of Hoja Ilghar, 13km to the south. Shakhrisabz (called Kesh at the time) was a kind of family seat. As he rose to power, Timur gave it its present name (Tajik for ‘Green Town’). Most of its current attractions were built here by Timur (including a tomb intended for himself) or his grandson Ulugbek. Everything in Shakhrisabz is connected with his name.'
'Timur's father Amir Taragai, his spiritual adviser Shamsedin Kulyol and his eldest sons Jahangir and Omar Sheikh were buried. The name Shakhrisabz is Tajik and means "green city". The Historic Centre of Shahrisabz was declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.’
‘Ak Saray Palace - Timur's Summer Palace, the "White Palace" was planned as the most grandiose of all Timur's constructions. It was started in 1380 by artisans deported by Timur from the recently conquered Khwarezm. Unfortunately, only parts of its gigantic 65 m gate-towers survive, with blue, white and gold mosaics. A new statue of Amir Timur stands in what was the palace centre.’ We saw numerous some pre-wedding photo shoot taking place here.
‘Amir Timur Museum : Housed inside the renovated Chubin Medressa is this simple museum. Its highlight is a model depicting Timur’s entire kingdom, from Egypt to Kashgar. Beyond the boundaries of the kingdom, a yellow line illustrates his ‘protectorates’, including Kiev and Moscow.’
‘Dorus Saodat Memorial Complex / Khazrati-Imam Complex : This vast complex was the burial place of the ruling family and contained a prayer hall, a mosque and accommodation for the religious community and pilgrims. The main facade was decorated with white marble and the tomb of Temur is a masterpiece of art of this period. Dorus Saodat Complex dates from the same time as Ak-Saray. Construction works began in 1379. Today only the left part of the portal is preserved, containing the tomb of Jahangir, who was Timur's favourite and eldest son who died at the age of 22. The mausoleum is also the resting place of Timur's second son Umar Sheikh who was killed at the age of 29 during the siege of Kurd in Iran. In an alley behind the mausoleum is a bunker with a wooden door leading to an underground room, the crypt/burial place of Timur. The room, is nearly filled by a single stone casket. On the casket are biographical inscriptions about Timur, from which it was inferred (when the room was discovered in 1963) that this crypt was intended for him.'
Kok Gumbaz Mosque (Dorut Tilavat) Complex : 'This large Friday mosque (our guide told us how to know whether a mosque is a Friday mosque or not. If there is a podium, then it is probably a Friday mosque) was completed by Ulugbek in 1437 in honour of his father Shah Rukh (who was Timur’s son). The name, appropriately, means ‘blue dome’. The palm trees painted on the interior walls are calling cards of its original Indian and Iranian designers.’ We also learnt to distinguish majolica tile mosaic of Uzbekistan from Persian style. The name majolica was first used by Italians to describe these late-medieval and renaissance ceramics. It is thought the term derived from the early places of production in Malaga and the export route to Italy via the island of Mallorca in Spain
Then we returned back to Samarkand. I missed the light and sound show, but one of our group members saw it. While our group members had lunch , I decided to see the place on foot and eat while walking. I met 2 students, who studies in class 9. One of their parent works in Moscow and other ones father drives a truck. They speak English better than most people I met in Uzbekistan. With them I went to see the Registan and Gur e Emir at night and bought some souvenir and finally went back to hotel.
'Transportation from Samarkand
Train from Samarkand to Tashkent: 2-4 hours
· Train from Samarkand to Bukhara: 2-3 hours
· Shared taxi from Samarkand to Bukhara: 4 hours
· Bus from Samarkand to Bukhara: 5-6 hours
· Train from Samarkand to Khiva: 12 hours'
Day 8: Samarkand - Tashkent : 30th October 22
18:30 Transfer to Tashkent by Sharq train
22:30 Arrive in Tashkent. Transfer to the hotel.
Overnight at the hotel
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
We had a free day today. We got up late and had breakfast till 10.30 and left for Afrosiyob Bazar to buy some souvenirs. Since Bappada and Debdatta da had already left, I went there with Gobindo, walking. We took a different route this time and got to see the Registan from the back side. After buying some souvenirs from Afrosiyob Bazar, I (Gobindo had already left) came back to our hotel and left for Train Station to catch the train at 1830 hours. Train Station looks like an Airport. This time we took Sharq Train, which is not as fast as Afrosiyob or fast train. But the train is very good. We reached Tashkent at 10.30 pm and went back to the same hotel.
Day 9: Tashkent>Delhi : 31st October 22
Breakfast at the hotel.
11:00 Transfer to the Tashkent International Airport.
14:20 Flight to Delhi
(above is the tour plan by our agent)
Day 10: Delhi>Kolkata : 1st November 22
22:10 Flight to Delhi
05:30 Delhi>CCU (7:30 hrs)
From Dum Dum Airport, I went straight to my office at 0900 hrs.
'Any Indian looking for a trip abroad should go to Uzbekistan, notwithstanding the fact that in India’s history books, Timur will always be the one who plundered Delhi.The Mughal history will always connect India with Uzbekistan. Nobody can erase this rich historical bond between us, a historian-cum-guide at the mausoleum said'. (https://theprint.in/features/i-visited-the-land-of-babur-and-timur-uzbekistans-national-hero/1141934/)
Lonely Planet, Central Asia