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x0x The Uzbek trio

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    [See more at http://www.uzbekistan.org/gallery/art/ ] x0x The Uzbek trio By O. FARUK URUNDUL Samarqand, Tashkent, Bukhara, the main stops on the historic Silk
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 17, 2007
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      [See more at http://www.uzbekistan.org/gallery/art/ ]

      x0x The Uzbek trio


      Samarqand, Tashkent, Bukhara, the main stops on the
      historic Silk Road, where you can experience a majestic
      culture that stretches from Central Asia to Anatolia.

      "Hos Kelipsiz!" So the young `Republic of Uzbekistan'
      welcomed us at the capital Tashkent's modern airport
      with a greeting little different from our own "Hos
      Geldiniz". Our excitement mounted as we murmured to
      ourselves the traditional response, "Hos bulduk". Here
      we were in Uzbekistan, at the heart of Central Asia,
      dream of travelers for centuries, accessible only by a
      long and arduous journey. Measuring 447 thousand square
      kilometers and with a population of 25 million,
      Uzbekistan is the largest country in the region. The
      rugged adventure of the new and free Republic of
      Uzbekistan began in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet
      Union when a nation that looked to the future with
      great hope was born, with an economy based on
      agriculture, cotton in particular, a rich history and
      culture, and a sound state structure.


      With its broad avenues and wooded parks, the capital,
      Tashkent, is a green and sprawling city. Following the
      earthquake that altered its entire face in 1966, it
      managed to rebuild in accordance with modern urban
      planning. The best place for soaking up the joyous
      autumn mood of the city and the young Republic is
      Sayilgah Avenue. Bursting with vitality, this famous
      pedestrian thoroughfare draws you in immediately. With
      its row upon row of cafes, restaurants where you can
      taste the superb Uzbek pilaff, street painters who can
      make an excellent portrait or draw a lifelike
      caricature in ten short minutes, karaoke venues just
      waiting to be discovered, and its earnest, smiling
      people, it has the atmosphere of a permanent festival.
      But this avenue also bears witness to profound traces
      of change. A weary musician trying to sell his
      saxophone on one corner, on the other a fast young
      businessman sporting gold jewelry emerging from his
      luxury car--you'll see them both on this avenue where
      life becomes a film strip.

      In the markets and restaurants run by Anatolian Turks
      along Sayilgah Avenue, you can also find every
      conceivable product from Turkey as well as the
      ever-popular flavors of Turkish cuisine.


      In one of the city's many parks, each a mini-forest,
      stands a colossal monument to Ali Shir Nevai, the
      greatest poet of the Chagatai Turkish language. The
      area around the monument and pond is thronging with
      young couples on their way to the marriage bureau. Here
      at every hour of the day you can see rattled
      bridegrooms, bashful brides and the video cameramen who
      are shepherding them around. As we later learned, it
      was the bills that were causing the look of
      consternation on the grooms' faces! Before leaving
      Tashkent, be sure to visit the metro. Yes, even the
      metro here is a sight to be seen, like a museum, with
      gothic chandeliers suspended from the ceiling and walls
      covered with semi-surreal, semi-futuristic scenes.

      What's more, the vast network of the metro system
      appears to have completely eliminated the city's
      traffic problem. Meanwhile Tashkent's markets, like
      those of Samarqand, are a virtual rainbow of colors and
      tastes. Besides dried fruits and nuts of every variety
      from all over Asia, you can also find fruits and
      vegetables from Central Asia's fertile Ferghana Valley.
      With their merchants dressed in local costume, these
      markets will transport you instantaneously to exotic
      climes. Korean food in a packet, Turkmen rugs, Kyrgyz
      hats are just a few of the items you can buy.


      According to an Uzbek proverb, "There are two roads in
      the world: in the sky the Milky Way, on earth the Silk
      Road." When you leave this beautiful modern city and
      set out for Samarqand and Bukhara, two major stops on
      the Silk Road, be prepared to slip through time and
      into a dream. For you are going to plunge right into
      the treasures of a world cultural heritage going back
      2500 years.

      You will feel your sense of time shaken and seek for
      something to hold on to. From its Siyab Market and old
      city square known as Registan to its observatory and
      religious colleges, Samarqand is the quintessential
      legendary city. Destroyed in 1220 by the Mongol
      invasion of Genghis Khan, it was brought back to life
      in 1370 when Timur, ruler of Transoxiana, made it his
      capital. During his 35-year reign, Timur created a city
      worthy of a fairy tale. His grandson, Ulughbek, who
      took a great interest in history, poetry, mathematics,
      music and, especially, astronomy, followed in his
      grandfather's footsteps, establishing the observatory
      and a madrasa, teaching mathematics and astronomy, and
      transforming the city into a center of science and
      culture during his reign. But the most impressive part
      of the city is the old cultural center of the Registan
      (Kum Square), surrounded by the Ulughbek, Shir Dar and
      Tel Kari madrasas, which preserves its vitality even
      today. These Islamic colleges, which were erected in
      1420, 1636 and 1660, occupy an important place in the
      world cultural heritage.

      One of the leading monuments of Samarqand is the
      mausoleum of Timur, built during his lifetime and
      called by the Uzbeks `Gur Emir'. This tomb, where
      besides Timur himself his grandson Ulughbek and
      spiritual mentor Seyyid Berk also lie, dazzles the eye
      with the splendor of its turquoise tiles. The
      Bibi-Khanym Mosque is on the other side of the city.
      Yet another monumental tomb is the Shahi-Zinda. When
      the Arabs came to Samarqand to spread Islam, the
      Prophet Muhammad's cousin Kusem Ibn Abbas was martyred
      and buried here. Since martyrs for the faith are
      believed never to die, Kusem Ibn-Abbas was given the
      name `Shahi-Zinda' or `Living Shah'. Surrounded by
      tombs and mosques, his mausoleum remains a place of
      sacred pilgrimage today.


      With its history, architecture and especially its old
      Sehristan, Bukhara like Samarqand is a jumble of scenes
      from a fantasy tale.

      When you climb up the 47-meter-high Kalan (it means
      `big' in the Tadjik language) Minaret, which was built
      in 1127, you feel as if you are breathing the same air
      breathed by Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi, Avicenna, Timur,
      Ulughbek and BirUni. Immediately to the east stands the
      Mir-i Arab Madrasa with its domes covered in brightly
      colored tiles. Right behind it are the madrasas of Aziz
      Khan and Ulughbek, and south of them are the Labi-hauz
      and the Madrasa of Nadir Divan Bey, with the humble yet
      elegant tomb of the Samanid ruler Ismail bin Ahmed off
      in the distance.

      Coming down from the Kalan Minaret you will delve into
      other times in the city's streets, spellbound by the
      colors and patterns of the calligraphy and tile
      workmanship. The fine weaving and aesthetically
      pleasing motifs of the old costumes are astonishing,
      and the richness of their details bear traces of a
      magnificent culture that stretched from Central Asia to
      Anatolia--its roots in the East but distilled through
      all time.

      The people of the city enjoy water and greenery at the
      Labi-hauz, a pool constructed in 1620, where the gaiety
      of the children swimming in the pool mingles with the
      quiet repose of the ageing youngbloods drinking tea and
      playing chess in the shade of the mulberry trees. A
      German couple bicyling to Beijing join the Czech
      photographers we met at breakfast. These travelers, who
      have opted for a taste of different cultures, exchange
      experiences and ideas. Dreams of new trips begin to
      take shape in this city, which has been transformed
      into a school for travelers.

      It is impossible to appreciate these places merely from
      photographs and documentaries. There's nothing for it
      but to go to Uzbekistan, a pearl in the crown of the
      World Cultural Heritage, and see for yourself. As they
      say in Uzbek, "Yolunuz ak bolsin." Have a good trip!

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