I fell in love in Bukhara. I wasn’t expecting to, but then love is always unexpected, isn’t it?
In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything from Bukhara when I visited Uzbekistan in September 2015. I was too busy dreaming about the Savitsky Museum at Nukus, the blue domes of Samarqand, and the minarets of Khiva. Bukhara was part of my itinerary, but it was more like a pit stop in the 700+ km road distance between Khiva and Samarkand — a place to rest and relax before moving on to the city that had inspired my Uzbekistan trip in the first place — Samarqand. Therefore, my online research for Bukhara only comprised a cursory reading of its history and finalising a B&B to stay.
I arrived in Bukhara after a 7-hour drive through the gorgeous Kyzyl Kum Desert from Khiva. The journey wasn’t particularly tiring as the roads were good for most of the distance, but after seven hours in the car, I just wanted to reach Bukhara. My first impressions of Bukhara were of a clean city with wide tree-lined avenues, multi-storied and traditional buildings existing side by side, and a very different vibe from the cities I had visited in Uzbekistan thus far.
The B&B I was staying in, Rustam & Zukhra, was a charming little place and though I was tempted to rest after the long journey, I thought it best to walk and stretch my legs a bit. Within minutes, I was at the historic Lyabi Hauz Complex and was transfixed by the sight before me.
The cool, dappled sunlight and a soft breeze wove its spell on me and I felt all the tiredness just drain out of me thereby setting the tone for my Bukhara visit. Over the next two-and-a-half days, Bukhara wove its magic on me ever so gently and unobtrusively through its history, monuments, friendly people, markets and its gentle culture.
I wish I could compose a poem in praise of Bukhara, but a poet I am not. I could write some free verse I guess, but I don’t want to risk losing my few blog readers. So a photographic ode to Bukhara it will be. 🙂
Presenting my ode to Bukhara below. Clicking on any of the photographs will enlarge it and you can then use the left or right arrow keys to navigate through the 25 photographs and their accompanying captions.
There are so many memories from Bukhara that could not simply not be captured in images, emotion or spirit. So, I will have to make do with words instead.
The carpet seller who would say “Salaam India” each time I passed him by.
The girl at the café who said her name was Sarah. And then whispered softly that her Indian name was Sunita.
Following the aroma of freshly baked bread in the alleyways of Bukhara one evening. I literally sniffed my way to the bakery.
The gentle and ever smiling mullahs at the mausoleums and masjids.
Zukhra, of Rustam & Zukhra, settling down to watch her daily fix of dubbed Hindi movies.
Raj Kapoor’s “Dum dum diga diga” being played for a show to promote Uzbeki textiles.
Local Bukharans spending time at the Lyabi Hauz complex and relaxing with family and friends.
The aroma of fresh somsas (samosas) and the taste of fresh pumpkin patties.
The special spiritual spirit or vibe of the city.
It is believed that visiting Bukhara 7 times is equivalent to doing the Haj. I’ve been there just once and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go there again. But I can say one thing with confidence: a part of me will always remain in Bukhara. 🙂
My Dream Trip Uzbekistan Series:
Dear Uzbekistan | A city called Nukus | Art in the Desert: The Savitsky Collection at Nukus | Mizdahkan: A city for the dead | 3 forts & a dakhma | Itchan Kala of Khiva | There’s something about Bukhara! | Monumental Bukhara | The Jewish Heritage of Bukhara | Shakhrisabz: The home town of Amir Timur | The Registan Square of Samarqand | The blue city of Samarqand | The silk paper factory at Konigil | The surprise & delight that was Tashkent | Uzbekistan: The food & markets special | The Uzbekistan trip planner |