TASHKENT DAY TOUR
DATE:4-5 OCTOBER 2017
Both Nik and I were glad to be out of Almaty. We flew out of Kazakhstan on Uzbekistan Airways and arrived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan around 2.30 pm. Tashkent was just a transit stop before our flight to Bukhara the next day (Thursday).
We checked into City Line Hotel, a small boutique hotel near the airport. A taxi took us to a restaurant recommended by the hotel staff. After the early dinner, we walked back leisurely to the hotel. The 2.5 km walk took us less than half an hour.
KUKELDESH MADRASAH & CHORSU BAZAAR
Since our flight would be late in the afternoon, we spent Thursday morning doing a little sight seeing in the city. From the hotel we rode a taxi to the nearest metro station, Oybek. We got off at Chorsu to visit the bazaar and Kukeldash Madrasah (Islamic school). The 500 year old madrasa has an impressive arch entrance. We paid for the entrance fee and entered the beautiful courtyard garden. This madrasah is still operating and classes were running during our visit. Thus, we were not allowed to walk on the left corridor where the classrooms were located. One of the rooms on the right serves calligraphy workshop-cum-souvenir shop.
The Chorsu Bazaar is essentially a bazaar and market place combined in one very large area. At the street level, the stalls sell clothes, bread, fruits and souvenirs such as ceramics. Underneath the dome is located the meat market, which also sells some spices. The nearby building houses stalls selling fresh farm produce such as fruits and vegetable, and spices.
We left the busy and bustling bazaar to go to the Khast Imam complex. After walking for more than 10 minutes, we realised that we were still in the vicinity of Chorsu Bazaar instead of heading to Khast Imam Complex. That’s how big the bazaar is. It’s time to catch a taxi.
KHAST IMAM COMPLEX
It was a fine and sunny day in Tashkent. The taxi dropped us by the Khast Imam mosque, a building with an arched entrance, decorated with coloured tiles and verses from the Qur’an. Two towering, cylindrical brick minarets stand in front of the entrance of the mosque. Behind the entrance is a neat courtyard leading to the main prayer hall. Nik made a footage of the mosque, including its interior and all the other buildings that make up the complex. Here’s the video.
The Khast Imam complex occupies a large area comprising several buildings or monuments-the Barak Khan Madrasah, the Tillya Sheikh Mosque mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi and the Islamic Institute of Imam Al-Bukhari. At the far corner is the Abu Bark Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum. The Barak Khan Madrasa is similar in appearance to Kukeldash Madrasa. However, now its classrooms no longer have students, but are operating as souvenir shops. The Tilla Sheikh Mosque is open for daily prayers while the bigger Khast Imam Mosque is open to tourists. The complex has a shady and well-kept lawn. The seats here provide an ideal place for a visitor to take a break and admire the gorgeous views of the buildings in the vicinity. The centre of the complex and similarly at the front of the main mosque, trees and shrubs are planted with a footpath in between. I love these cool and shady garden-like areas within this huge complex.
After a brief visit to the mausoleum, we strolled across the complex to check out the restaurant opposite the Khast Imam mosque entrance. At the Samarkand Milliy Taomlari Restaurant, we had our first Uzbek pilaf (pilau) or plov. The rice may be a bit chewy, but the beef was very tender and the spices were nicely balanced. Other ingredients in this Uzbek national dish includes julienned red and yellow carrots, chick peas and raisins.
AMIR TEMUR MUSEUM
Our next stop was Amir Temur’s Museum. This is a small modern building also known as the Museum of the History of Temurids. The museum was established to commemorate the 660th birthday of Amir Temur or Tamerlane. A 14th century conquerer of western, South and Central Asia, Amir Temur’s empire was located in modern Uzbek state. He founded the the Temurid Empire and the Temurid Dynasty (1370-1405) in Central Asia. The region blossomed economically and culturally under his reign. Amir Timur has been recognised as a national hero of Uzbekistan because his imperial capital was located in Samarkand.
The museum displays focus on Amir Temur’s genealogy, his coming to power, military campaigns of Sahibkiran, diplomatic and trade relations, workmanship, city improvement and landscaping, science and education development. There are also exhibits related to representatives of Temurid’s dynasty including maps, weaponries, copper and silver coins, rare manuscripts, potteries and jewellers. Models of architectural works from the Amir Temur era includes Aksaray, Ahmad Cassava’s mausoleum, Bibi Khanum Mosque Ulughbek Madrasah and Observatory Gur-i Amir and Taj Mahal.
The Amir Temur Square was not that far away. We could see the Uzbekistan Hotel building near the square, but were unaware of the short distance. We should have visited the square, but instead took the taxi back to the hotel to collect our luggage. From the hotel, it was another taxi ride to the domestic airport to catch the flight to Bukhara, our next stop. In Uzbekistan, cars and taxis are not allowed to drop or pick up passengers beyond the gate to the airport or train station. Once the taxi dropped us, we had to drag our luggage to the airport gate where our passports and tickets are checked before we walk under a metal detector. Upon entering the airport or train station, all our bags including handbags are screened while we go under yet another metal detector.
BGT PHOTO GALLERY