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IslamiCity > Travel > 2004 Program to Uzbekistan BEIJING  Beijing

CITIES & MONUMENTS:

BUKHARA:

"Abundant", "Blessed" - these are the epithets given to Bukhara in the past. Bukhara is at the crossroads of ancient trade routes and was a large commercial center on the Great Silk Road. Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan. Bukhara's "old city" is the only place in Central Asia where the color of the East still lives.

Bukhara is really a museum-city: more than 140 architectural monuments are to be found here. The earliest of these were constructed in the 9th century. One of the most famous masterpieces of architecture dates from the 9-10th centuries - the mausoleum of the Samanides. The ancient masters succeeded in achieving an artistic effect: the walls are like a light and transparent lace. Almost 50-metre tower of Kalyan minaret (used for calling
  Adhan  at the time) rises in all its splendor over the city and no tourist will be indifferent to the Ulugbek and Chor-Minor Medresseh.

There were many
bazaars in ancient Bukhara, one of them - Lyabi-hauz bazaar (the 16-17th cc.) has been preserved up to this day. Some of the trade centers have variety of shops, such as hats,    carpets, brass & metal artifacts and traditional musical instruments

Sites in Bukhara:  Watch Videos

Nadir-Divan Begi Madrasa Kalyan Mosque -- Kalyan Minaret
Ulugbek Madrasa Miri-Arab Madrasa
Bolo-Khauz Mosque Magoki-Attori Mosque
Kukeldash Madrasa Artists (Brass, Pupeteer, Embroidery)
Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble Dervish Khonokah

TASHKENT:

Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, is one of the most ancient cities in the world and the largest one in Central Asia, with a population of more than 2 million. In Uzbek, Tashkent means "the stone settlement." The first mention of the city dates back to the 
1st century BC. Over the centuries, Tashkent has changed its name several times: Shash, Chach, Chachkent, Binkent... It has been known under its current name of Tashkent since the 11th century.

Today Tashkent is a major scientific and cultural center in both Uzbekistan and Central Asia. The Academy of Sciences and as well as many institutes, universities are located in Tashkent. The public library with its collection of four million books is the pride of Tashkent. During the past two decades, carefully planned construction has greatly altered the appearance of the Uzbek capital.

Lovely parks and squares are decorated with splendid fountains which cool the air during the hot summer months. Such unique architectural monuments as the Kukeldash Medresseh and the Barakhana Medresseh (the 16th c.) seem to be islands of the past floating amidst tall modern buildings. Unfortunately, only a small part of its architectural past is preserved, due to demolition of historical and religious buildings after the revolution of 1917 and a massive earthquake in 1966. 

Sites in Tashkent: Watch Videos

Imam Bukhari Institute Tilli-Shaykh Mosque / Library
Chorsu Bazar 16th Century Kukeldash Madrassa
Khoja Ali Mosque Abul Kasim Madrassa (Artisans)
Old Neighborhood (Mohalla) National Gardens

Kukeldash Madrassah & Khoja Ali Mosque: The majestic looking Madrassah was built in the 16th Century with rich geometric and floral patterns with Kufi style calligraphy on blue tiles. This two storey building serves as a residential school. Students between 8 & 25 years of age are taught both Quran & Hadith with emphasis on memorization of Quran.


Imam Bukhari Institute: A residential boarding school of religious studies for children between 7 and 20 year olds. In addition to Quran/Hadith, students are also taught languages, Mathematics, Physical & Natural Sciences. It is inspiring to see short Ahadeeth posted as signs, part of the garden decor of the central courtyard. 

Tilli-Shaykh Mosque/Library: This Mosque is also the office of the Grand Mufti of Uzbekistan. Like all mosques it has lavish lawns and scores of rooms/offices. 

A visit to this small library is enough of a justification to visit Uzbekistan. This is not just another library, but a Quran manuscript library, with manuscripts as old as fourteen centuries from all over the Muslim world. This building opens itself to a 20' x 50' hall displaying along the wall Quran manuscripts in different calligraphy styles and sizes. They are encased in glass for preservation purposes. The oldest and the original handwritten Quran sample in the world today is found here in this library.

Mohalla: Centuries old residential quarters (neighborhoods) have withstood all seasons and cultures. These 17th/18th century homes are made up of dirt, straw and wood. Their ownership is passed on from generations to generations. This cluster of homes sprawls an approximate 2 sq. kms. Once inside this area, it is easy to get lost in a literal maze of alleys. The alleys sometimes run into a dead-end with a door. These doors opens into homes leading to another alley across their courtyards. The residents of these homes do not mind at all to guide the passers by cross their courtyards into the other side of the alleys. Residents greet the visitors with Salams and wave the passers by in. Perplexing it may seem to the western tourists but natural to them. A fascinating experience indeed from a host of perspectives, such as;

(a) anyone can knock the door, almost anytime and the host is expected (almost obliged) to answer
(b) apparently to avoid this in the night time, they leave the door unlocked for the convenience of others
(c) concept of theft, robbery is not even in their vocabulary
(d) complete trust in one another using each others' door ways as public paths
(e) concept of privacy does not exist - Muslim women do not take their Hijabs off until they retire in the night time

The streets of Mohallas are unpaved and barely five to six feet wide and sometimes even narrower. The homes may be as tall as 20 - 30 feet with multiple levels in some cases. Narrow unpaved streets and age old dirt/straw/wood buildings makes one loose in time! Mohalla residents prefer to use firewood for cooking and heating the house. Although they now have access to electricity and gas, but many do not yet prefer to embrace the modern complexities. Each Mohalla is served by one or more Mosques, Madrassas and a Khabrastan (cemetery).

The word Mohalla is a derivation of the Arabic term "Ahl" (family). Everyone literally knows each other in these Mohallas. Children are protected, guided and overseen collectively by the entire community and not just parents.

The Government of Uzbekistan, post independence (1991) built multi-storey apartment buildings in the vicinity of mohallas and offered the residents to move for free. Many declined because they consider the apartment-lifestyle as unsocial. 

Chorsu Bazar: Tashkent's Chorsu Bazar is a huge domed Bazar housing  hundreds of vendors offering spices, fruits, nuts, roots/herbs and live stock (sheep, chickens, pigeons), household items, clothing, jewelry, etc. The Bazar offers intoxicating spice fragrance.

People shop with their vendors of their choice. A stall/store is known by the vendor and his family. No stall/store has any signage. One begins to wonder how does a customer pick a vendor. The moral is customers and vendors are both generational. Same vendors are servicing the same customers. A relationship based on mutual trust, the vendor never cut-shorts the transaction and the customer never abandons the vendor for a minor price difference, if any.

 Spices are used in the East for cooking and for medicinal purposes. The stores are managed by an entire family. the old brings the reputation, the young ones learn from their experience and watchful eyes of their elders and the women serve as an integral part of the operation as a support network.


SAMARQAND:

Samarqand is the second largest city of Uzbekistan and is of the same age as Rome, Athens and Babylon - more than 2500 years old. Ancient Arab manuscripts refer to it as the "Gem of the East". The city of Samarqand is the home of Imam Bukhari.   

The world famous unique architectural monuments of Samarqand rank with the masterpieces of India, Egypt and Italy. One of them is Gur-Emir, the mausoleum of the Timurides, crowned with a large tiles cupola. Here lie the bodies of Timur and his grandson Ulughbek - a prominent scientist and astronomer. Other attractions include the Shakhi-Zinda ensemble, which is unique in its decoration, and the Registan, the central square of ancient Samarkand, which is surronded on three sides by magnificent buildings: the Ulughbek, Shir-Dor, and Tillya-Kari medressehs.

Famous scientists and poets of the East -
Ulughbek, Navoi, Jami, Rudaki - lived and worked in the ancient town. Part of the giant sextant of Ulughbek's observatory has been preserved to the present day and his astronomical tables are in use all over the world. Additionally, one cannot ever forget the hospitality of Samarqandi people!

FERGANA VALLEY:

The Fergana Valley is known as "the Garden of Uzbekistan."  Surrounded by mountains, and crossed by the Syr-Darya and Naryn rivers, it has the soil and climate most favorable for agriculture, which has prospered here for thousands of years. The architectural style of Fergana and the valley is a mixture of Central Asian and Russian. The most beautiful building of Fergana is "Skobolevs' House". 

North of Fergana on the road to Namangan and Kokand, on the high bank of the Syr-Darya river, there still stand the great walls of Akhsikent, the native city of Zakhiriddin Babur, the founder of the Mogul Empire. It was totally ruined in an earthquake in the 16th century. The walls follow the river and disappear in the distance on both sides of the road. Across the river, one can still see the mouth of a tunnel dug under the city as an escape route if the city should be conquered.

KHIVA:

(details shall be made available shortly)

 
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