- Silk Road 26: Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Oct 2019
- Silk Road 27: More Samarkand, Oct 2019
- Silk Road 28: Bukhara, Uzbekistan Oct 2019
- Silk Road 29: Khiva, Uzbekistan, Oct 2019
- Silk Road 30: Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Oct 2019
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
31 thoughts on “Silk Road 28: Bukhara, Uzbekistan Oct 2019”
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Hi Ali and Dilshad – again a very informative piece with some very good pictures. The pictures of the Mosques and Synagogue give a good portrayal of the ethnic/religious diversity of the region. I am sure there must be some Russian Orthodox Churches there. Good work. Hope you have managed well during this Pandemic situation we have been experiencing.
Thanks Zahir; glad you enjoyed the blog. We are doing well and have survived Covid; got fully vaccinated in Feb.
Hope you guys a doing well as well
Very interesting. Would be interested in a description of how you choose your destinations and the preparation phase – visas, where to stay – etc.
I am a writer and live in San Diego, and have spoken to Dilshad on the phone when she was visiting your son here.
Turn you adventures into a book!
You’ve been to places some only dream of!
Hi Sherbanu, So nice to hear from you.
How do we choose a place?
Usually , it’s from our bucket list, but occasionally, we will diverge. Most times, we do last minute or short term planning, because we fly standby,
we usually go where we know we will be able to get seats/flights to. In general,. we prefer to go to less developed places; or places that are very
different in culture, traditions, language that what we are used to. Cheaper locations also help 🙂
Preparation Phase: So we research the place we want to go to (from Tripadvisor, Youtube videos and others blogs etc) and then come up with what we
want to see//do. Some trips take a lot more research than others. EG; Central Asia and western China took a lot more planning.
That research determines where/which towns etc we will be going to, and we book a car from the major airport we want to land into; and plan the
general road or other trips (ferry, bus, air) we will be doing to reach all the destinations we want to see.
Then apply for visa’s if necessary.
We usually pre-book the first few nights stay; so we land “softly” so to speak. We try to stay at B&B’s with a local family, but recently, we have not been doing that;
choosing comfort as priority in our old age 🙂 For the stays after the first few days, we wing it; booking the next stay the day before; researching it on the web.
That way, if we feel like staying longer at one place, we have the freedom to do so.
We plan all our own trips and make all the bookings ourselves; No travel agent
No magic involved here.
RE: writing a Travel book; do people read books these days? I know I have not read a book in donkey’s years even though I used to be an avid reader.
Yes, we are indeed blessed to be able to do all the traveling; and thank God every day.
Thanks for the feedback again; appreciate that
So nice to see what we have never heard of
Glad you enjoyed and shared with us
Thanks Sadrudin for the feedback. Happy that you enjoyed the blog to unknown places 🙂
Good morning Ali and Dilu, beautiful pictures. I love all the details in the blog. Keep on traveling and spoil us with the beautiful pictures.
Thanks for sharing.
Love to Family.
Thanks Naz; so glad you are enjoying the journey with us.
And thanks for your encouragement always 🙂
What an amazing place. Love the Kalyan mosque and all the domes.
Really pretty place with so much history. Looks very clean and everything is well preserved.
Locals are so friendly.
Thanks for sharing.
I really enjoyed this blog as the pictorials were great.
Thanks Mahamud; so happy that you are enjoying the blogs.
Love, Light & Cheers
Really enjoyed your journey and photos.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Mr Walji; Appreciate your feedback. Glad you are still with us on our journey and enjoying.
Beautiful write up! Thank you so much for sharing all the details and pictures. Truly enjoyed reading.
Thanks Rozmin for the feedback. So glad you enjoyed the blog.
Ali Karim, YAM
I enjoyed your trip very much to this part of the world, very interesting!
Keep it up, brother, and thanks for sharing!
Hi Barkat; thanks so much for the feedback; glad you are enjoying the journey with us
Hi Ali, Enjoyed it very much. Never been to that part of the world. Don’t think I will be able to do it now. But at least I see it through your posted photos. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Bud; glad you enjoyed the blog; thanks for the feedback.
You, my friend, lead an adventurous life that many people only dream of.
Are you currently traveling ?
Hi Azeem, so nice to hear from you always.
Thanks for the nice feedback.
Indeed we are blessed and thank God every day.
Yes, we are currently traveling; stay tuned for the blogs to come 🙂
Thanks for sharing. Fascinating trip with lots of history
Thanks Fatima, for the feedback. Glad you are enjoying the trip blogs
I love your travel adventures in places that are not as common to visit. Beautiful photos of locals. How much pre-planning you had to do before the trip?
I have been to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan several times in the late 90’s – all for work with ExxonMobil. Except for some off road visits in Azerbaijan (Fire Temple etc.), I stayed mostly in the main parts of the large cities – with very little contacts with the locals (missed that for sure). Turkmenistan was very interesting – with large modern day mosques (mostly funded by Saudi Arabia). People, markets and restaurants were very similar to those in Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan.
When and where is your next big adventure trip planned? Need any company?
Hi Sudharshan, Thanks so much for this feedback; I have been thinking about Georgia/Armenia/Azerbaijan for some time now, but with the recent wars there, decided to wait it out a little. Turkmenistan is also on my bucket list, but it seems very difficult to get a visa there; they dont seem to want too many tourists; I am already salivating at going to Turkmenistan and Iran; both difficult places for Americans right now. I envy you having made it there.
RE: How much pre-planning we do; it depends on the place; it it is remote/difficult/off the beaten path/3rd worldly; then we do spend time planning it and may get a guide/driver. In most other places, we typically plan the first few days of arrival, then wing it; having researched where we want to go see/do in that area.
Next big trip: It is actually in action right now; we are in Greece. After Athens, we are currently on the Cycladic islands (Santorini; not exactly off the beaten paths); but since Greece just opened up, there are not may tourists; thank goodness. The adventure will start when we go back to Athens in a few days, rent a car, and drive all over the mainland 🙂 ; that should be interesting 🙂
Thanks for staying in touch.
Thank u for continuous sharing of your wonderful journey. I really enjoyed the story and all the photos..
Definitely will be my reference for my future trip !
Thank you Diana, for the feedback. So glad you are enjoying the journey with us
Wow what a journey. Hope all is well
Thanks Danny; yes it was a memorable journey. Glad you enjoyed it.