Silk Road 29: Khiva, Uzbekistan, Oct 2019

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Silk Road Uzbekistan Oct 2019
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Khiva, Oct 2019

Oct 22, 2019

We left Bukhara by train once again, this time to Khiva, another ancient city on the Silk Road. There were no high-speed trains on this route, so it took us 5.5 hrs. on this slower train in business class; at a cost of 131,490 Uzbek Som or US$12.50 each. Route was not scenic, only farmlands and towards the end, a lot of desert/scrub landscape.

Khiva, Oct 2019, Business Class coach train
Business Class coach train
Khiva, Oct 2019, Corn and cotton side by side
Corn and cotton side by side
Khiva, Oct 2019, Desert like scrub-land
Desert like scrub-land

We sat opposite an Australian couple on the train, and got talking; Lars & Shelly were a middle-aged couple that got married, sold everything they owned, and started traveling the world with the intention of continuing to do so the rest of their lives. Amazingly, they have traveled for 4 years and visited 38 countries to date; their travels can be seen at Lifejourney4two

We arrived at Urgench, which was the train station for Khiva, about 25kms away, and the Bibimaryam B&B, where we had booked the previous night, had sent a taxi (included) to pick us up from the train station.

Khiva, Oct 2019, Urgench train station was modern and clean and mostly deserted
Urgench train station was modern, clean and mostly deserted
Khiva, Oct 2019, Disembarked and found our taxi
Disembarked and found our taxi
Khiva, Oct 2019, Local scene on the way to Khiva
Local scene on the way to Khiva
Khiva, Oct 2019, Arrived at Ichan Kala, inner walled city of Khiva
Arrived at Ichan Kala, inner walled city of Khiva

The Bibimaryam B&B was located inside the old walled city, called Ichan Kala, which is where we had wanted to stay. This was a nice, clean, recently renovated hotel, and staff spoke some broken English. After settling in, we were treated to some refreshments after our journey. Very nice. Cost here was $35 per night including breakfast.

Khiva, Oct 2019, Refreshments with Chai at Bibimaryam B&B
Refreshments with Chai at Bibimaryam B&B

Khiva is located in northwest Uzbekistan, and about 5 miles as the crow flies from the Turkmenistan border. The earliest records of the city of Khiva appear in Muslim travel accounts from the 10th century, although archaeological evidence indicates habitation in the 6th century. The presence of fresh water from wells & farming from irrigation using the nearby Amudarya river allowed it to develop and it became a trading post along the Silk Road. By the early 17th century, Khiva had become the capital of the Khanate of Khiva, ruled by a branch of the Astrakhans, a Genghisid dynasty. In the 17th century Khiva began to develop as a slave market. During the first half of the 19th century, around one million Persians and an unknown number of Russians, were enslaved there before being sold. A large part of them were involved in the construction of buildings in the walled Ichan-Kala, the inner city which was completely walled and where the high officials, clergy and rich lived; and the Dichan Kala, the outer city, where the ordinary people lived. The city was ruled and destroyed at various times by Persians, Turkmen, & Genghis Khan; until Russia invaded in 1873. Since 1990, the inner city of Ichan Kala has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the refreshments, we went to check out Khiva Ichan Kala by dusk. Khiva had many tour groups just like Bukhara; and was more recently reconstructed to original structures and looked newer than Bukhara. There were lots of old mosques, Madrassah’s, Mausoleums, Caravanserais’ here just like in Bukhara. Many of the Madrassah’s and Caravansarai’s had been converted into hotels for tourists. The Ichan Kala was small, so easily walkable. We spent a couple of days here and below are some views

Khiva, Oct 2019, Half-moon lighting up the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Masrassah
Half-moon lighting up the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Masrassah
Khiva, Oct 2019, The famous Kalta Minor minaret; at 26m high is impressive. It was supposed to be 70m tall, but was never finished
The famous Kalta Minor minaret; at 26m high is impressive. It was supposed to be 70m tall, but was never finished
Khiva, Oct 2019, Another impressive minaret
Another impressive minaret
Khiva, Oct 2019, Getting a $3 wash and blow dry
Getting a $3 wash and blow dry
Khiva, Oct 2019, Islam Khoja Minaret
Islam Khoja Minaret

We had dinner at the Bir Gumbaz Tea house, a small converted madrassha. Bill came to $13 for 2 of us for drinks, Uzbek soup and kebabs; not bad at all. We called it a night and went to sleep.
Next morning, after breakfast at Bibimaryam, we continued to explore Ichan Kala Khiva. We first stopped at the Tourist Info center just outside the Ichan kala to get tickets to the places we wanted to visit (you can only get entrance tickets at select places in Khiva). Many structures as you can see from the pics were built with mud & straw; and rebuilt in the same way. Others were mud brick construction. Some scenes of Ichan Kala Khiva below

Khiva, Oct 2019, The Kunha Ark Citadel from the 12th century
The Kunha Ark Citadel from the 12th century
Khiva, Oct 2019, Beautiful architecture, tilework, and well restored historic buildings
Beautiful architecture, tilework, and well restored historic buildings
Khiva, Oct 2019, Typical Ichan Kal street
Typical Ichan Kal street
Khiva, Oct 2019, Pahlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum
Pahlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum
Khiva, Oct 2019, About Madrassha’s
About Madrassha’s
Khiva, Oct 2019, More interesting info about Madrassah’s
More interesting info about Madrassah’s
Khiva, Oct 2019, Outside the Museum of Applied Art, in a well restored historic building
Outside the Museum of Applied Art, in a well restored historic building
Khiva, Oct 2019, Love the friendly locals’ smiles:)
Love the friendly locals’ smiles:)
Khiva, Oct 2019, Divan seating in a restaurant courtyard
Divan seating in a restaurant courtyard
Khiva, Oct 2019, Under restoration
Under restoration
Khiva, Oct 2019, Universal hello-waves from young ones at a local residence
Universal hello-waves from young ones at a local residence
Khiva, Oct 2019, Guesthouses were everywhere
Guesthouses were everywhere
Khiva, Oct 2019, Outdoor tandoor oven
Outdoor tandoor oven
Khiva, Oct 2019, The Juma mosque from the 10th century originally, rebuilt in the 18th century. Uses these carved wooden columns to hold up the wooden roof
The Juma mosque from the 10th century originally, rebuilt in the 18th century. Carved wooden columns are used to hold up the wooden roof
Khiva, Oct 2019, The Juma mosque appeared to be a good place to model. Beautiful
The Juma mosque appeared to be a good place to model. Beautiful

We decided to check out the Kunha Ark citadel, and came upon a play being enacted inside, of the good old times. Some scenes from the play and from inside the citadel.

Khiva, Oct 2019, The king, his vizier and senior officials; in the play
The Khan (king), his vizier (Prime minister) and senior officials; in the play

Musicians entertaining the king

Khiva, Oct 2019, Dancer in beautiful traditional costume
Dancer in beautiful traditional costume

Traditional Uzbek dancing entertainment for the Khan

Khiva, Oct 2019, Strolling down streets in Ichan Kala Khiva
Strolling down streets in Ichan Kala Khiva
Khiva, Oct 2019, A one column mosque
A one column mosque, with the mihrab in the qibla wall at the far end
Khiva, Oct 2019, Beautiful tilework on ceiling of an alcove inside the Tosh-Hovli Palace; the home of the Khan of Khiva
Beautiful tilework on ceiling of an alcove inside the Tosh-Hovli Palace; the home of the Khan of Khiva
Khiva, Oct 2019, Interesting façade with tilework inside the Tosh-Hovli Palace
Interesting façade with tilework inside the Tosh-Hovli Palace

The Tosh-Hovli Palace of the Khan of Khiva

Khiva, Oct 2019, Khan’s quarters
Khan’s quarters
Khiva, Oct 2019, Entrance into a madrassah
Entrance into a madrassah
Khiva, Oct 2019, Sunset over the Kunha Ark Citadel
Sunset over the Kunha Ark Citadel
Khiva, Oct 2019, Beautiful sunset colors, & silhouette of Ichan Kala Khiva with the Kalta Minor minaret lit up; from the Terrassa Cafe where we had dinner
Beautiful sunset colors, & silhouette of Ichan Kala Khiva with the Kalta Minor minaret lit up; from the Terrassa Cafe where we had dinner
Khiva, Oct 2019, Dinner at the Terrassa Café was green noodles, Lulu Kebabs and a salad. Cost was about $20 with drinks; most expensive meal so far in Khiva
Dinner at the Terrassa Café was green noodles, Lulu Kebabs and a salad. Cost was about $20 with drinks; most expensive meal so far in Khiva

After a nice couple of days in Khiva, it was time to leave for Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, for our last stop of the Central Asian Silk Road adventure. We had a choice of a 16hr slow train ride which I wanted to take (overnight sleeper) but Dilshad did not want to do that. So, I checked for flights and there was one Uzbek Air flight a day available, but all the $55 economy seats were taken, not available. Only $125 Business Class seats were available, so I booked those.

In the morning, Dinara, our host, got us a taxi to take us from the B&B to Urgench, where the airport for Khiva was located. Cost was $6 for this 28km journey. Some scenes along the way.

Khiva, Oct 2019, Innovative school crossing sign: all drivers respected the sign and drove carefully here
Innovative school crossing sign: all drivers respected the sign and drove carefully here
Khiva, Oct 2019, Interesting mosque
Interesting mosque
Khiva, Oct 2019, Urgench airport
Urgench airport

We finally arrived at the airport and went through a security/passport check outside the airport in the parking lot. We then went inside the airport, which appeared empty and went to the check-in counter, and got checked in. Curiously, there were no other passengers around. We sat down to wait to get called, but the check-in person guided us to a side door, where he ushered us into a lounge, the perks of business class tickets. There was an attendant there who took good care of us and brought us coffee, tea and refreshments. Very nice except that there were no other passengers here either. I was getting worried now as it was getting close to departure time, and we could not see any other passengers anywhere.

Khiva, Oct 2019, Business Class lounge in Khiva airport
Business Class lounge in Khiva airport

I asked the lounge attendant (no English) if it was time to go board the plane, and in sign language; she indicated for us to relax. OK. A short while later, about 10mins before flight departure time, she motioned us to follow her, and took us to a door in the back, which opened onto the tarmac, and there was a van waiting for us, with a driver. This is getting interesting. The lounge attendant got into the front seat and the driver drove us to the plane on the tarmac, where the lounge attendant escorted us to the stairs to the plane. This was the first time we got “escorted” to the plane on the tarmac, in a vehicle. 🙂  Only seen this in movies. Has anyone else experienced this?

Khiva, Oct 2019, Uzbek air, waiting for us
Uzbek air, waiting for us

We still could not see any other passengers. Curiosity grew. We said goodbye to our lounge attendant and boarded the plane and we found the plane to be totally full; just waiting for us. Surprise. But we never saw any other passengers in the terminal or the lounge. I can only guess that the plane must have flown in from somewhere else, stopped in Khiva to pick us up and then took off to Tashkent. 🙂

Tashkent , Uzbekistan, next.

Khiva, Oct 2019, Krygyz travel
Krygyz travel
Khiva, Oct 2019, Tajikistan travel till Dushanbe
Tajikistan travel till Dushanbe
Khiva, Oct 2019, Dushanbe to Khiva, Uzbekistan
Dushanbe to Khiva, Uzbekistan
This entry was posted in Asia, Silk Road Uzbekistan Sept-Oct 2019, Uzbekistan

31 thoughts on “Silk Road 29: Khiva, Uzbekistan, Oct 2019

  • Shermin Bata September 12, 2021 at 10:19 pm Reply

    Love reading all your blogs! You are very talented… Your descriptions and pictures make me feel I’m traveling along with you.

    Thank you for taking me virtually on your trips and inspiring me to take such trips in person in the future.

    • Ali Karim September 15, 2021 at 8:41 am Reply

      Thanks Shermin; so happy you are enjoying the blogs & traveling with us.
      Our hope has been that our blogs inspire our readers to travel and see the world and its beauty themselves
      You are one great example of that 🙂

  • Sultan September 12, 2021 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing. You guys know how to travel and visit these historical places. Please share more of your blogs , really enjoyed. Regard Sultan and Mubina.

    • Ali Karim September 15, 2021 at 8:37 am Reply

      Thanks Mubina and Sultan,for the kind words.
      So glad to hear that you are enjoying the blogs

  • Ismail Awan September 6, 2021 at 7:51 am Reply

    Many thanks for the history lesson and beautiful pictures of a place people like me have often dreamed about but never had the opportunity to visit.
    Many thanks again for sharing.

    • Ali Karim September 11, 2021 at 11:50 am Reply

      Thanks Ismail; I hope this inspires you to travel and see for yourself.
      Let me know if I can help in any way

  • Sadrudin Jamal September 5, 2021 at 2:29 pm Reply

    Really excellent.
    Wish we had visited a while ago

    • Ali Karim September 11, 2021 at 11:48 am Reply

      Thanks Sadru; glad you liked it.

  • Mubina Esmail August 19, 2021 at 9:22 pm Reply

    Hi Ali,

    These photo and memories are wonderful. You guys really know how the enjoy the authentic life all the places you visit. Lovely to get these email.

    Hope you are both keeping well.

    Best regards from
    Sultan and Mubina

    • Ali Karim August 19, 2021 at 9:23 pm Reply

      Thanks Mubina, so glad you hare having fun reading my blogs

  • Mahamud Jinnah August 18, 2021 at 12:04 pm Reply

    Hi Aly;
    I am amazed by the Australian couple you met who sold everything and are travelling.

    Khiva looks so beautiful-such beautiful architecture.

    The airport experience was quite unique.

    Love your blogs.

    Take care,
    Mahamud

    • Ali Karim August 18, 2021 at 10:29 pm Reply

      THanks Mahamud; glad you are enjoying the blogs

  • Muslim Harji August 18, 2021 at 10:26 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing! Beautiful Images…Asante.
    Love, Light & Cheers

    • Ali Karim August 18, 2021 at 10:28 am Reply

      Thanks Muslim

  • Amir & Roshan Mulji August 7, 2021 at 1:09 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful country.
    You are very lucky to see all this.

    • Ali Karim August 7, 2021 at 1:24 pm Reply

      Thanks Amir.
      Yes indeed, we are very blessed and thank Allah every day.

  • Aziz Bhimani August 5, 2021 at 9:39 am Reply

    Both of you will go down in history books !!!!!! Be safe. My 🤲 for safe journey

    • Ali Karim August 7, 2021 at 1:23 pm Reply

      Thanks Aziz; for the very kind words 🙂

  • Badru walji August 5, 2021 at 9:38 am Reply

    As always; Amazing, beautiful and very interesting.

    • Ali Karim August 7, 2021 at 1:22 pm Reply

      Thanks so much

  • Benita Naidu July 26, 2021 at 9:59 am Reply

    lovely pics as usual
    bravo.

    • Ali Karim July 26, 2021 at 10:08 am Reply

      Thanks Benita

  • Shelley July 26, 2021 at 3:25 am Reply

    Wonderful memories from our time in Uzbekistan. Love all of your photos Ali – and it was lovely to chat to you guys on the train 🙂 Thank you so much for the mention.

    • Ali Karim July 26, 2021 at 10:08 am Reply

      Yes indeed Shelly; very nice to have met you on the train; stay in touch.

  • Vineeta Salvi July 25, 2021 at 9:28 pm Reply

    Wow! Excellent post and Amazing photos, Ali. In awe of your explorer spirit and your willingness to take the time and effort to share your experiences. Hats off to you and Dilshad!

    • Ali Karim July 26, 2021 at 10:08 am Reply

      Thanks so much Vineeta; for the kind words.

  • Lin July 25, 2021 at 10:41 am Reply

    wonderful trip,would love to join ,Sir

    • Ali Karim July 26, 2021 at 10:01 am Reply

      Thanks Lin; glad you enjoyed

    • AmirT August 16, 2021 at 7:13 pm Reply

      Ali, God bless you for all your efforts in sharing your travel blog to date. Thoroughly enjoyed catching up on my reading of your blogs.

      Please convey our regards to Dilshad.

      • Ali Karim August 17, 2021 at 3:09 pm Reply

        Thanks Amir, for the kind words

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