Bukhara, Oct 2019
Oct 18, 2019
After a very nice time in Samarkand, it was time to move to Bukhara, Uzbekistan. To get to Bukhara from Samarkand, we had purchased tickets on the Afrosiyob high speed train the day before, from the ticket office in Samarkand. Prices were very reasonable; about $10 per person, business class seating, on a modern, high-speed train for a journey of about 2hrs
The trip was short, and uneventful and the Hotel Fatima, where we had booked to stay in Bukhara, had arranged (included) a taxi pickup from the train station to the hotel. The hotel was in the main square of the city, and was clean, nice and comfortable.
Bukhara is an ancient city in the central Asian country of Uzbekistan. It was a prominent stop on the Silk Road trade route between the East and the West, & served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The mother tongue of the majority of people of Bukhara is Tajik, a dialect of the Persian language, although Russian is spoken as a second language by most residents. & Uzbek to a lesser extent. Bukhara served as the capital of the Samanid Empire, Khanate of Bukhara, and Emirate of Bukhara and was the birthplace of Imam Bukhari. During the Islamic era, Bukhara was a major medieval center for Islamic theology and culture & has about 140 architectural monuments dating largely from the 9th to the 17th centuries. UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bukhara which contains many well-preserved mosques, madrassas, bazaars and caravanserais as a World Heritage Site.
After freshening up, we started exploring Bukhara. Since our hotel was in the main square, all sites we wanted to visit were within walking distance. Right outside our hotel was a nice open park area, with gardens, fountains and an open-air restaurant. This area was the Lyabi-Hauz complex, which houses multiple well preserved/rebuilt mosques (prayer), madrassahs (school), caravanserais (lodgings for Traders/travelers) and Khanakas (gathering place for Sufis for spiritual retreat), and was located in the heart of old Bukhara.
The garden in this main square of Lyabi-Hauz had a statue of Mulla Nasruddin Hodja on his donkey, the quick-witted, Sufi philosopher, wise man remembered for his funny stories, anecdotes and sometimes a fool, a butt of a joke. He forms the central character of many children’s folk stories in Central Asian, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the Central Asian version of Don Quixote.
Below are some scenes around the old town
Inside of a restored Caravanserai
Inside a typically well restored Madrassa
Manual art work on brass
View of restored cultural relics in Bukhara
Dinner one evening was at the Labi Hovuz outdoor restaurant in the main square outside our hotel; complete with music and dancing
Dinner at the Labi Hovuz restaurant
The most famous site in Bukhara was the impressive Kalyan Minaret, which is a minaret of the Po-i-Kalyan mosque complex in Bukhara, and the most prominent landmark of the city. The minaret, designed by Bako, was built by the Qarakhanid ruler Mohammad Arslan Khan in 1127 to summon Muslims to prayer five times a day. It is made in the form of a circular-pillar baked brick tower, narrowing upwards. It is 48m (157 ft) high, 9m (30 ft) diameter at the bottom and 6m (20 ft) at the top of the column. It was also used as a watchtower to spot enemies in times of war, a place where decrees of the rulers were read, and where criminals were thrown out of, to their death. The mosque complex consisted of the Kalyan minaret, the Kalyan mosque and the working Mir Arab Madrassa
Legend has it that the Kalyan minaret so impressed Genghis Khan that he ordered it to be spared when all else around was destroyed by his men, when he conquered Bukhara in 1220AD.
360 degree view of the Kalyan mosque
This was an active, working madrassah; where there were students in residence learning Islam, science, math etc. While we were there, it was evening time for prayer, and we saw all the students come down for prayer to the mosque under the right-side blue dome of the madrassah. Visitors were not allowed inside, but we snuck in anyway 🙂
Inside the Mir Amir Mausoleum
We also checked out the Museum of Judicial History, which was the prison, the Zindan (prison dungeons), where particularly disliked prisoners were put in a bug pit
We then went to see the Ark of Bukhara, which is a massive citadel fortress, built around 500AD and housed the emirs, their chief viziers, military leaders, and numerous servants. It was destroyed multiple times, including by the Mongols, and rebuilt numerous times. Views of the Arc below
We then went to visit the mausoleum of Ismoil Somoni—the founder of the Samanid dynasty, which was the last native Persian dynasty to rule the region in the 9th to 10th centuries, after the Samanids established virtual independence from the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. We had visited his statue and memorial park in Dushanbe.
We decided to have dinner at a small restaurant that night, with a view of the Kalyan minaret; the food was great, and the view was even better
Next day, we decided to check out the local Maktab Bozori market at the edge of the city, and other sites in Bukhara. We took a taxi as the market was not within walking distance. This was a true local market vs the tourist markets in the trading dome markets in the city center, & everything was available in this bazaar, from clothing, household utensils to foods. Some views from the Bazaar below
Below are other scenes from our wanderings around Bukhara
Bukhara was not as large, busy, or crowded as Samarkand, and easy to get around. After a wonderful few days, it was time to leave and head to Khiva.
Our journey so farThis entry was posted in Asia, Silk Road Uzbekistan Sept-Oct 2019, Uzbekistan