11 June-12 June
Now the Heat has begun to increase as we continued to forge Westward. The roads were still terrible with erratic drivers and animals appearing on the road suddenly. The other obstacle have been the uzbek traffic police who have taken great delight in stopping one of the MGs in the vain attempt to extract some holiday pay from us. Has so far ended up with a cheerful photo and wave. Speed limits are low here – between 30 through villages to 80km. But you wouldn’t want to do more because of the state of the roads. So we do around 75 – 80 on a better road, others its been down to 65km.
Bukhara is a small city and looks just the way I imagined a town or city from the Arabian nights to look. Large square ponds with fountains, surrounded by paved bazaars and covered colonnades and covered archways and alleys to protect the walker from the intense afternoon sun. The squares and colonnades came alive from about 6.00pm, traders stacking stalls, vendors arranging fruit, drinks and sweets . Walking around we had a chance to wander into some of the old caravanseri which hadn’t been restored. After sunset and everyone has broken their daily fast for the season of Ramadan the place springs to life. Families are out promenading around, children are taking rides on garish flashing lit coloured electric remote control cars around the square, giggling . Music from one of the many traditional kebab houses mingles with the aromas of cooked meats.
The Ark is a fascinating building – a mud and clay brick fortress with rounded walls and turrets rising out of the flat desert plains like a monolith. Built entirely from mud and clay parts of it overlook the square below. Arched cross hatched windows for the ladies of the harem look down onto the square below, adjacent to the Imirs’’tower and viewing platform where he and they could observe the executions below. Two unlucky British Victorian solidiers Stoddart and Connolly accused of spying were supposed to have met their fate here at the Ark Bukhara became the inspiration for a novel the Great Game, based on the war between Russia and Britain .
Another beautiful construction we walked to was the Samanid Mausoleum, entirely constructed from clay bricks, using only pattern work to decorate it. It is a perfect example of dome which is based on the principle of 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 for it to gain its strength.
Walking city tour: Ark Fortress (I-XX CC), Poi-Kalyan complex with Kalyan Minaret (XII C), trade domes of Toki Zargaron (XV C), Toki Sarrafon (XVI C), Toki Telpak Furushon (XVI C), Ulugbek Madrassah (XV C), Abdulazizkhan Madrassah (XVII C), Lyabi Hauz complex (XVI -XVII CC).
Walking later in the afternoon due to heat in bazaars and markets under cool archways was a pleasant way to escape the blazing heat.