Caravan Travel – Uzbekistan Tour
Tour Silk Road Adventure
Visit Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, Samarkand
Day 01: Tashkent – Khiva
Arrive at Tashkent airport , our guide meets you. Afternoon have a flight to Urgench. Arrive in Urgench and transfer to hotel in Khiva. Urgench is the capital of Khorezm province, Northwest of Bukhara across the Kyzylkum Desert. It’s located between the Amu-Darya River (in the delta of the river) and on the border with Turkmenistan.
Day 02: Khiva
Breakfast. Sightseeing tour: The Ichan Kala – the heart of the city where most architectural and historical monuments are located. It is so-called “inner city” surrounded by a wall 2.2 km long. Ichan Kala with tall minarets and domed roofs surrounded by dwelling buildings represents rich traditions of popular oriental architecture: monumental shapes, fine carved pillars, doors and ceilings, original patterns and colourful majolica. Mohammed Amin Khan Madrasah – is the biggest seminary of the city, erected from to1852-1855. Now it is a guesthouse for tourists. The Kalta Minor or Short Minaret – was built in 1852 under one of the most ambitious projects of the ruling khan. It was intended to be the tallest minaret in the Islamic world, but abandoned in the wake of the khan’s death at 26 metres. Kunya Ark – is the fortified citadel at the centre of the city, also the residence of the rulers of Khiva, a city within a city, first built in the 12th century by Oq Shish-Bobo, and then expanded by the khans in the 17th century. Archaeologists have conducted excavations on a one-hectare area under the citadel and found out that this territory had been settled on since the time of Khiva’s foundation. Kunya Ark comprises living quarters, a mosque, and the palace of the khan, the residence of his harem, the mint, the arsenal, the stables and the jail. Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrasah (1871) The Tomb of Sayid Allauddin – is the most ancient architectural monument of Khiva, Mongol-era 14th-century tomb of one of the Sufi masters. Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum – is the most revered mausoleum of the city. Pakhlavan Mahmud, the Hercules of the East, a famous wrestler, poet, philosopher and Khiva’s saints patron. His tomb (1326) has some of Khiva’s loveliest tile work. In the afternoon your tour includes visits to: Shir Gazi Khan Madrasah – was erected in 1718-1720 by 5000 Persian slaves brought to Khiva from Meshed. The inscription above the entrance reads:”I accept death at the hands of slaves”. The slaves were promised freedom but soon it became clear that they would not live to see the end of the work. They killed the khan and even succeeded in capturing the city’s citadel. The Islam Khodja Madrasah and Minaret – are the newest monuments of Khiva, both built in 1910. The minaret, 45 metres tall, is a stately, tapering pillar belted with sixteen decorative friezes. The madrasah houses Khiva’s best museum – the museum of handicrafts: fine wood carving, hand embroidery, carpets, household utensils, pottery, work, traditional Uzbek clothes are on display. Juma Mosque – Friday mosque, once the khanate’s religious heart has 213 columns. The oldest columns are from the original 10th century mosque; other 17 columns are of the 11th-12th centuries origin. The most recent mosque was built in 1788. Allakuli Khan between 1832 and 1841 erected Tash Khauli (Harem) -. It is the most beautiful architectural decoration of the city: ceramic tiles, carved marble, painted wood. It contains 163 rooms and 3 courtyards, the biggest courtyard being the Harem.
Day 03: Khiva-Bukhara
Early morning departure for Bukhara via the Kyzylkum (red sands) Desert (435 km). The barren countryside is the home to ground squirrels and tortoises. Enroute stop to see the Amudarya River, known to explorers as the Oxus. Due to irrigation of the cotton fields started during the Soviet times, the river is rapidly drying. The journey takes 5 to 6 hours.
Day 04: Bukhara
Full day city tour. In the morning visit: The Ark Citadel. This Royal town-within-a-town is the home of the rulers of Bukhara for over a millennium. The Ark is as old as Bukhara itself. The fortress was the focus around which the medieval town developed. Bolo-Khauz Mosque (1712), opposite the Ark, it was the emir’s official place of worship. The painted porch, supported by 20 columns was added in 1917. The architectural ensemble of Poi-Kalon (Pedestal of the Great), the religious heart of Holy Bukhara, consists of the Kalon Minaret, Kalon Mosque and Mir-i-Arab Madrasah. The Kalon Minaret (1127) is one of the defining symbols of Bukhara. The minaret is 9 metres in diameter at the foundation and grows slightly narrower at its 46-metre height. The minaret is exquisite not only in its magnificence but also for ornamental brickwork. The Kalon Mosque is the biggest Friday mosque in Bukhara for 10.000 people, built in the 16th century on the site of an earlier mosque destroyed by Genghis Khan. The Mir-I-Arab Madrasah (16th century) was built by Ubaidullah Khan (Shaybanid ruler) and named for a 16th century well-known Sheikh Abdullah Jemeny. It was Central Asia’s only functioning madrasah in Soviet times and the most prestigious educational establishment for centuries. Covered Bazaars (trading city’s cupolas – of the 15-16th centuries) were among dozens of specialised bazaars in the town built at the junction of caravan routes. Four major cupolas of the building of merchants have survived in Bukhara. Toki-Sarafon (cupola of moneychangers), Toki-Telpak Furushon (cupola of the sellers of hats), Toki-Zargaron (cupola of jewellers), Abdullakhan Tim (a centre of silk sales). The Ulugbek Madrasah (1417) is one of the three madrasahs built in Uzbekistanby Timur’s grandson Ulugbek. Everything in it is characteristic of Ulugbek architecture: clarity of the design, excellent proportions and understated decorative details. The Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasah is located opposite the Ulugbek Madrasah. The Astrakhanid Ruler of the same name began its construction in 1652, but the decoration left unfinished when he was driven away by the first of the Mangit emirs. Magoki-Attori Mosque (12-16th centuries) is one of the last remnants of a symbolic architecture of various periods and religions. Its cupolas are slightly above the level of ground because the building is deeply stuck in the centuries – old cultural layers. Under this mosque archaeologists found the bits of a 5th century Zoroastrian temple wrecked by the Arabs, and an earlier Buddhist temple. Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble is the heart of Bukhara. Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble shows that the Bukharan architectural traditions remain alive. A high-ranking official named Nadir Divan-Begi built it in 1620 and some parts of it are still well preserved – Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah (1622), Nadir Divan-Begi Khonako (1620) and Kukeldash Madrasah (1568-1569). The afternoon the tour of Bukhara city tour includes visits to: Samanid’s Mausoleum (the family tomb of the Samanid Dynasty from the end of the 9th – beginning of the 10th century) is a pearl of the East with traces of Sogdian culture. It is one of the first monuments on the territory of Central Asia built from burned brick. Chashma Ayub (the Spring of Biblical Job) Mausoleum was built in the 12th century over a spring. Legend says Job struck his staff on the ground here and a spring appeared. Its middle domes were added in the 14th century, the front one in the 16th century. Chor Minor (four minarets) is a monument of later period, built in 1807. Its four-domed minarets bear features of Indian style because it was built by order of Indian merchant.
Day 05: Bukhara – Shakhrisabz – Samarkand
Drive to Samarkand (268 km) via Shakhrisabz, the land of the Tamerlane. Shakhrisabz (Green town) is a small town to the south of Samarkand, lying across the hills in Kashka-Darya province. This is Timur’s hometown and once upon a time it had probably put Samarkand itself in the shadow. In the early 7th century Chinese Buddhist traveller Huen Tsang visited the Sogdian town of Kesh (Shakhrisabz). This city saw the Arab and Mongol invasions. By 1336, the year of Timur’s birth, Kesh and its dependencies were his father’s patrimony (the Barlas clan). As Timur rose to power he gave it its present name and turned it into an extended family monument. In the reign of Timur Shakhrisabz became his residence. But in the late 16th century the Ruler of Bukhara destroyed much of the Timurid legacy. Shakhrisabz retained semi-independence from Bukhara till the 19th century. In 1870 the Tsarist army stormed the town. While the Soviet era brought great change to the appearance of Shakhrisabz, the town has preserved a rich store of history in legends and architecture. One enjoys a relaxed Uzbek atmosphere in its llmosques, teahouses and traditional homes. Monuments you will see in Shakhrisabz are: Ak-Sarai (literally the “White Palace”, built in 1379-1409) is the greatest palace of Tamerlane built by artisans of Khorezm after he destroyed Kunya Urgench and dispatched its masters in 1379. Of this grandiose palace, there remain only the ruins of the 40 metre-high portal, flanked by two 50 metre-high towers covered with glazed bricks. Dorut Tilovat (the House of meditation) is the 14th century complex of Kok Gumboz mosque (1437), madrasah and mausoleums of Shamsiddin Kulol (1374) – a Sufic master, Amir Taraghay – Tamerlane’s father and four Termez Syeds – descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Kok Gumboz Mosque (Blue Dome) was completed by Ulugbek in 1437 in honour of his father Shah Rukh (Timur’s son). Dorus Siodat (Seat of Power and Might) is the family crypt of the Timurids with the graves of two sons of Tamerlane (Jehangir and Umar Sheikh) and Khazrati Imam Mosque of the 19th century.
Day 06: Samarkand
Full day tour for you to see the many wonders of Samarkand. In the morning visit: Registan Square, known from the 13th century as a bazaar square, was the centre of trade and cultural life in medieval Samarkand. It is surrounded by three madrasahs built in different periods. Ulugbek Madrasah was built between 1417-1420 by order of Ulugbek, a grandson of Tamerlane. This monumental madrasah with portal decorated with five and ten-pointed stars and spirals of majolica was the greatest University of Central Asia in the 15th century. Shir-Dor Madrasah is the mirror attraction of Ulugbek Madrasah. Portal is decorated with mosaic tigers and gazelles. It was built in the 17th century, 200 years after Ulugbek Madrasah was erected. Tillya-Kari Madrasah (built 1660) is the third madrasah on Registan Square. It has a mosque with golden paintings inside. It was built by the order of ruler Bakhodir Yalangtush, 10 years after the Shir-Dor Madrasah. Bibi Khanum Mosque, once the biggest mosque in Central Asia, it was erected by order of Tamerlane after his victorious Indian campaign in 1399. The architects, artists, craftsmen from all the countries conquered by Tamerlane took part in the construction of the mosque. Shakhi Zinda Necropolis, a site of pilgrimage visited since the 11th century and marked by holiness. It consists of about 20 mausoleums of different centuries built between 11th – 19th centuries. The complex appeared around the grave of Khusam ibn Abbas – the cousin of Prophet Muhammad who it is said to have come to Samarkand in the 8th century. There you can see the finest samples of majolica, mosaic and terracotta tile work. Continue tour in the afternoon when you will see: Gur Emir, a mausoleum (1404-1420) in which rests Amir Timur and many other members of his dynasty, constitutes a perfect and fine sample of Timurid Architecture; simplicity and harmony of shapes and sumptuously decorated interior (papier-mache painted in blue and gold). Ulugbek’s Observatory. In the outskirts of Samarkand on the hill of Khuhak there is located Ulugbek’s Observatory (the 15th century), with astronomical instrument, the sextant. In that observatory Ulugbek and other scholars had completed the famous “Tables of stars”. Afrosiab Site & Museum. It is the area of 212 hectares mostly hilly surrounded by a moat. Here was situated ancient Afrosiab (old name of Samarkand). It had existed from the 6th century BC till the 13th AD. Now archaeologists here continuously conduct excavations. The museum displays: the model of ancient city and fortress walls, pottery, weaponry, coinage, altars and most of all the mural painting of the 7th century.
Day 07: Samarkand – Tashkent
Morning drive to Tashkent. In the afternoon city tour of Tashkent. Some of the places you will visit include: The History Museum of the Peoples of Uzbekistan, the biggest of Tashkent’s museums, contains 8,000 exhibits. The archaeological findings displayed in the museum, present the life of the peoples of Central Asia as well as the life of Uzbek people from ancient times up to the modern age. The main city square Mustakillik (Independence Square) is an administrative and political centre of the city, where most of celebrations, national holidays take place. Visit to the old city Khazret Imam Square, is ancient square of the 16th century, where are located the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, the Barak Khan Madrasah, Namazgokh Mosque and the Tillya Sheikh Mosque. Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum of the 16th century is a mausoleum of one of the first imams of Muslim world, who lived from 904 to 979 AD. Barak Khan Madrasah was constructed in the middle of the 16th century by the order of Barak Khan, the son of Suyunidj Khan, and a founder of Tashkent Shaybanid dynasty. Nowadays it houses Muslim Religious Board of Uzbekistan, the administrative centre of the Mufti of Uzbekistan. Tillya Sheikh Mosque (constructed in 1902) is a functioning mosque possessing a rich Islamic library with ancient manuscripts. The highlight of the library is the immense Osman Koran, one of the world’s oldest copies (1200 years old). Namazgokh Mosque built in the middle of the 19th century, now it houses the Imam Ismail Al-Bukhari Islamic Institute. The Square “Chorsu” is the centre of an ancient Tashkent. It appeared in the 11th century and was a four-road junction, a place of trade. The Kukeldash Madrasah, located on the square Chorsu, was built in the 16th century in the reign of the Shaybanid dynasty, under the leadership of Kulbodo Kukeldash – the vizier. Now it is a primary school, which teaches the basics of Islam. The Jammi (Friday) Mosque, nearby the Kukeldash Madrasah was erected in the middle of the 15th century by influential Islamic leader Khodja Akhrar (1404-1492). “Chorsu” bazaar – on the right of the square Chorsu, is the oldest city market, which was rebuilt according to the ancient style. It is picturesque, noisy and full of local colour.
Day 08: Tashkent
Transfer to airport for your departure flight. Khayir Sogh Buling – Uzbek traditional farewell and good wishes.