A long-standing dream of wanting to travel to Uzbekistan, sustained over 4 decades, was finally realised in September 2015. The decision happened just like that one morning in November 2014. Instead of wistfully saying or whining that “I want to go to Uzbekistan”, I just told myself firmly, “I’m going to Uzbekistan”.
And just like that the planning began for
#MyDreamTripUzbekistan. 10 months later I was boarding a flight to Tashkent and was back home in India 12 days later after THE trip of a lifetime. In those 12 days in Uzbekistan, I travelled through the country by air, road and train covering 1,292 km, according to Google Maps, in addition to the 800 km I travelled from Tashkent to Nukus by air.
10 months after my return, here I am writing the last post in the Uzbekistan series. I must admit that while I enjoyed writing about and sharing details from the trip, I enjoyed your comments, mails, and messages even more. The response was overwhelming and I loved getting queries and questions about the trip. Thank you all for liking, commenting, re-tweeting, and sharing my posts.
For all those who have been asking for details on how I planned the trip and how it worked out, here’s my ultimate Uzbekistan trip planner. It is based on the queries I received and presented in a Q&A format.
Continue reading “The Uzbekistan Trip Planner”
Samarqand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, and is spread over three sites — the ancient settlement known as Afrosiab; the Timurid portion; and the modern part of the city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, Samarqand is a contemporary of Rome and celebrated its 2750th birthday in 2007.
Located along the Great Silk Road at the crossroads of routes leading to Persia, India and China, Samarqand has drawn people from all over. It also attracted itinerant travelers like Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta, as well as purposeful conquerors like Alexander the Great and Shaybanid Khan alike. The former came out of curiosity; the latter to plunder or rule over its vast wealth. Samarqand drew me in as well, a modern-day traveler. If you have been following my Uzbekistan journey on this blog, then you will recall that it was a picture of a blue dome in Samarqand that had sparked off a desire to visit it.
I was in Samarqand for two days and got a glimpse of a fascinating past filled with myths, legends and historical events. I also saw many blue domes and many more works of art that were in different shades of blue. The amount of blue was enough to dub Samarqand as the blue city and use that title for this blog post as well ! 🙂 .
Continue reading “The blue city of Samarqand”
The Registan Square in Samarqand is the city’s, and perhaps Uzbekistan’s, most recognised monument. In a way, it is to Uzbekistan what the Taj Mahal is to India. So it was not surprising that the Registan Square was the one place I was looking forward to visiting the most even before I set out for the trip in September 2015. 🙂
It was early evening when I arrived in Samarqand after a beautiful drive through the Zarafshan mountains from Shakhrisabz. As the car drove through the city towards the B&B I would be staying in, my first impressions were of an elegant and beautiful city filled with monuments. I kept an eye out for the Registan Square and even thought I glimpsed it, but could not be sure as the one way roads made me feel like we were going around in circles !
Once at the B&B, I was delighted to find from the very handy map given there that the Registan Square was just a 5-minute walk away. So after freshening up and some tea, I followed the directions on the map and within minutes was at the Registan Square. The sun had almost set and my first glimpse of the iconic monument complex was at twilight.
Time stopped still as I took in the magnificent sight before me and I think I had tears in my eyes as well. Over the next 2 days that I was at Samarqand, I would visit the Registan Square often, and each time it would be an overwhelming experience.
Continue reading “The Registan Square of Samarqand”
Many, many years ago there was once a quiet, little girl who was happiest among books, especially picture books. She hadn’t yet learned to read, and would always be asking her family members to explain what she was ‘reading’.
One day, her father came home with a stack of magazines. The little girl went through them all, one by one. She was particularly mesmerised by the cover of one of them. It had a picture of a blue dome against an even bluer sky, and she liked it so much that she wanted to see the dome for real.
She went up to her father and told him of her intention. Her father looked at the magazine cover and said, “This is in a place called Samarqand. You want to go to there?”
The girl nodded.
“It’s quite far from here. Why don’t you wait till you are grown up?”
“Okay,” said the little girl. “I will go to Samarqand when I grow up.”
The years went by. The little girl grew up, the magazine got misplaced, her father passed away, but the blue dome of Samarqand and her dream of seeing it was not forgotten. Friends and family, who knew of this dream of hers, would often ask when she was visiting Samarqand. Her answer always was, “I don’t know when. All I know is that one day I will.”
That day came four decades after she had first declared her intention to visit Samarqand. Last month, the now not-so-little girl made that trip to Samarqand and other places in Uzbekistan. There was a touch of the unreal when her plane landed in Tashkent and she couldn’t help but wonder if she was part of a dream. The fresh, cold air that hit her when she exited the aircraft convinced her that this was no dream, but the real thing ! 🙂
Continue reading “Dear Uzbekistan”