6 June – Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent is an interesting blend of white, big and marble modern buildings, leftovers from the Soviet area and Western Europe – so much so you could go to a very good Teppenyaki restaurant if you wanted too.
We set off for a walking tour of Tashkent. We visted the Khast Imam Complex – a religious center of the city consisting of the Barakkhan Madrasah, Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum and the library of Islamic Literature with the Holy Koran Book of the VII century. Once again the inlaid tile work and calligraphy was the highlight. The Library of the Holy Koran Book of the VII century displayed many beautiful examples of calligraphy, including the oldest copy of the Koran made by Caliph Ultman in the 7 century.
We explored the Chorsu Bazaar. We enjoyed many fruits from a market on the way to Tashkent. Cherries, apricots mulberries – white and black. Home made nougat in enormous copper pots to which sesame seeds, nuts and dried fruits could be added. Delicious!
Visited the modern part of Tashkent by metro including some of their impressive underground metro stations such as one dedicated to the Soviet astronauts and exploration of Space. Other places were Amir Timur Square, Earthquake Memorial and Independence Square.
Tashkent – Samarkand
A run down the E40 expressway between Tashkent – Samarkand (not the Silk road I had imagined). Once again the name of the game was dodging pots holes, zippy cars, donkey drawn carts laden with hay. One the way we came across a small area populated by storks perched on the tall electric power poles; sometimes up to 3 or 4 on one pole – just mum and the 3 kids.
In Samarkand, we left the cars and took a city tour to its famous Registan Square (which means “desert” in Persian) and three madrassahs (religious study centers) surrounding the square: Ulughbek Madrassah (XV c), SherDor Madrassah (XVII c), and Tillya-Kari Madrassah (XVII c) – covered with gold. (breathtakingly golden). We visited Gur Emir Mausoleum (tomb of Tamerlane), – beautiful; Shakhi Zinda Necropolis (XI-XX CC). Continue sightseeing with Bibi Khanym Mosque – built by Amir Timur (Tamerlane) in XV century and Siyab Bazaar. Words are insufficient to describe the richness and beauty of these buildings and Square.
Seeing these monuments and structures built centuries ago is awe inspiring. The craftsman ship, designing, planning and TIME that went into them. And above the power of usually one ruler to conceive these plans and conquests.
The Silk Road is a magnificent feat.
The history of the Stans is so complex and varied you can see the various influences in the people, their faces and buildings. We are privileged to be travelling through so many countries and we can see the constantly changing landscape and weather and infrastructures. Above all people have been genuinely interested and happy to see us.