Sneak peek on my SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan Trip
by Alden Pagela Divina [WHRP Project, UAE]
SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN…I may have been the worse student in my Geography Class, which explains why I have never heard of this country – UZBEKISTAN until I set my foot on one if its cities - SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN.
Let us see some excerpts from WIKIPEDIA about Samarkand & Uzbekistan:
Uzbekistan (UK: /ʊzˌbɛkɪˈstɑːn, ʌz, ˈstæn/, US: /ʊzˈbɛkɪstæn, stɑːn/;Uzbek: Oʻzbekiston, pronounced [ozbekiˈstɒn]), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi), is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. It is surrounded by five countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south, Turkmenistan to the south-west. Its capital and largest city is Tashkent. Uzbekistan is part of the Turkic speaking world, as well as a member of the Turkic Council. While the Uzbek language is the majority spoken language in Uzbekistan, Russian has widespread use as an inter-ethnic tongue and in governance. Islam is the majority religion in Uzbekistan, with the majority of Uzbeks being non-denominational Muslims.
Samarkand (/ˈsæmərkænd/; Uzbek: Samarqand, pronounced [samarqand]; Tajik: Самарқанд; Persian: سمرقند), also known as Samarqand, is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan and among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. There is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic Era, though there is no direct evidence of when Samarkand was founded; several theories propose that it was founded between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean Sea, at times Samarkand was one of the largest cities of Central Asia. Most of the inhabitants of this city are Persian-speaking and speak the Tajik Persian dialect. This city is one of the historical centers of the Tajik people in Central Asia, which in the past was one of the important cities of the great empires of Iran.
I am not an expert of travel blogger, but I just want to share my short yet exciting journey to SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN.
On the 25th June of 2021, I took the uncertain flight from Pakistan to Samarkand, Uzbekistan for short trip before going back to Abu Dhabi, UAE. I never thought that this trip would lead me to a beautiful city of SAMARKAND.
Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, SAMARKAND has remained calm, peaceful and has maintained a normal life while a state of madness is happening in most countries of the world.
My unexpected trip to Samarkand with no travel itineraries and no expectations whatsoever had made me wonder what SAMARKAND has to offer to its visitors.
In 2001, UNESCO added SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN to its WORLD HERITAGE LIST as CROSSROADS of CULTURES. To name a few of the treasures and highlights which I have personally visited in this so-called ANCIENT SILK ROAD CITY are:
1. REGISTAN SQUARE is by far the most famous and popular amongst all the amazing places to visit in this ancient city. Registan which literally means a “sandy place” is in the HEART of Samarkand City, it is a public square where three of the amazing architectural Madrasahs (Islamic religious school) were built. The Ulugbek Madrassah on the Western side, Sher Dor Madrassah on the opposite side and the Tilla Qori Madrassah in between. I cannot help but wonder how people as early as 1417 – 1420 could have built such an amazing architectural structure with intricate designs.
2. BIBI KHANYM MOSQUE was built between 1399 and 1404 in memory of the wife of Timur (Tamerlane) who is the first ruler of Timurid dynasty in now modern-day Afghanistan, Iran & Central Asia. In 15th century, it is the largest and most magnificent Islamic Mosque well known for its gigantic dome. One of the attractions inside the mosque is the enormous marble Quran standing at that courtyard. During my visit, the place was very quiet and peaceful, it gave me time to reflect and just enjoy the moment inside a historical mosque built a very long time ago. Adjacent to the mosque is the SIAB Bazaar and it is a good destination to buy souvenirs to take home and dried fruits or nuts which Uzbekistan is well known of. Shopping in the bazaar is enjoyable especially that the Uzbeks are very friendly, hospitable and accommodating.
3. GUR-E-AMIR MAUSOLEUM stands for the “Tomb of the King” or the final resting place of Timur (Tamerlane). Completed in 1404, this mausoleum where the tombs of the Conqueror Timur, some of his family members (sons & grandsons) and teachers were laid is an epitome of the Islamic arts architecture in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. It is one of the many structures and monuments designated in Samarkand as world heritage site.
Despite the many calamities and natural disaster, Samarkand has successfully restored, retained, and maintained their ancient structures showing the richness of their Uzbekistan history and culture. To this day Samarkand has become world renowned because of the Islamic art architectural designs of its mosques, monuments, Madrasahs and mausoleums among other structures.
This trip would definitely NOT be complete and as exciting, if someone who loves food as much as I do would NOT taste the delicious and exceptional cuisines of Samarkand Uzbekistan.
PLOV is the national and signature dish of Uzbekistan. The unique flavors of the layering beef/lamb with vegetable, rice and spices as the cliché would say, would make you forget your name. It has a distinct taste that only Uzbekistan can offer.
Other the PLOV, a FOOD LOVER like me would truly enjoy other dishes like MANTU (steamed dumpling) SAMSA (Samosa of Uzbekistan), and SHASHLIK (skewered and grilled cubes of meat).
I truly must say that unexpectedly I have uncovered a gem in Samarkand Uzbekistan, an ancient city very rich in history and culture. Not only is Samarkand famous for its ancient Islamic structures, but the real treasures are the Uzbek people who are very warm, welcoming, and friendly. Tourists were never treated as strangers but like families and friends.
This trip is like a travel back to the past, a glimpse of history. The experience is worth sharing, and Samarkand, Uzbekistan is a place worth recommending to people who enjoys and loves to travel.