Places Visited: Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand
Samarkand, Khiva, Bukhara – names mythic in the annals of the British Empire, when their wonders were glimpsed by only a handful of intrepid travellers, who returned from long arduous expeditions to tell the tale.
Travel in the region today, however, is considerably more luxurious and secure than it was in the 19th century. Moving around in an air-conditioned vehicle, you’ll have the opportunity to shop for handwoven silk and vibrant carpets in old-style, mud-brick bazaars, visit regions captured by Alexander the Great and wander in one of the world’s greatest architectural treasures, Registan Square.
Join TransIndus for a journey of discovery to the Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan. With all the travel practicalities taken care of by our team, you’ll be free to enjoy the sights of this Central Asian gem. Accommodation is in comfortable, western-style hotels, and all meals are included with plenty of opportunities to sample the local delicacies. You’ll have a dedicated, English-speaking Uzbek local representative along with a member of the Transindus London office who will travel with you, plus fully-qualified guides at key monuments who will help bring the historical context of these extraordinary buildings to life.
Cultural Holidays Group Tours
- Group Size 4 -16 people
- Internal Travel Air-conditioned vehicles
- Accompanying Guide Accompanying tour leader
- Accommodation 10 nights
- Meal Plan Full board
Uzbekistan Special Group Tour
Join TransIndus for a journey of discovery to the Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan. With all the travel practicalities taken care of by our team, you’ll be free to enjoy the sights of this Central Asian gem. Accommodation is in comfortable, western-style hotels, and all meals are included with plenty of opportunities to sample the local delicacies.
Itinerary for Uzbekistan - A Journey of Discovery Special Group Tour
Fly overnight from London Heathrow to Tashkent.
On arrival in the Uzbek capital, you’ll be met at the airport by your local TransIndus representative and driven to your hotel. Spend the rest of the morning recovering from the journey. You’ll meet in the lobby ahead of a late lunch at a traditional Uzbek restaurant, before beginning a gentle afternoon’s sightseeing at the Hast Imam complex in old Tashkent. Although much of the medieval city was destroyed in the 1966 earthquake, the handsome 14th-century mosques, tomb and madrasa at Hast Imam survived. They now enjoy a new lease of life hosting workshops for traditional crafts, where you can watch ceramicists, painters, weavers, metalworkers and embroiderers in action. Highlight of the visit is a glimpse of one of the world’s oldest Quran’s. You’ll finish the first day in the capital with a stroll around the centrepiece of the modern city, Amir Timur Square (formerly ‘Constantine Square’), previously dominated by a statue of Stalin, but now home to a huge equestrian statue of Uzbekistan’s eponymous national hero, better known in the West as ‘Tamerlame’.
Tashkent - Khiva
An early start is required today to reach the domestic airport in time to catch the morning flight to Urgench, in the far west of Uzbekistan. On arrival, your bus will transfer the group south to Khiva, where you’ll be staying in a delightful heritage hotel housed in a former madrasa. The building retains much of its original mosaic tilework and is an atmospheric haven in the heart of the old walled town, the Itchan Kala. Green-glazed domes and tapering minarets soar above the surrounding belt of flat rooftops and medieval mud walls – all beautifully renovated over the past 15 years or so. There will be time before lunch for a short walking tour of the Itchan Kala’s principal monuments, beginning with the squat, elaborately tiled tower just outside your hotel. Like most of Khiva’s sights, the Kalta Minar dates from the 19th century, although vestiges of much older civilizations punctuate the winding streets. The Jama Masjid (‘Friday Mosque’), for example, retains carved elm pillars dating from the time of Alfred the Great! Next, you’ll visit a walled courtyard, in an old madrasa opposite the Jama Masjid, where Khiva’s last family of wood carvers, the Jumanijozovs, sculpt pillars from wood identical to those in the mosque. Master carver Shavkat and his apprentices use designs that have been replicated here for over a thousand years. Their picture frames make great souvenirs. More potential mementos are on sale at a nearby suzani workshop, where local women embroider beautiful panels with gold thread, in a distinctly Persian style. Look out too for the shaggy telpek hats traditionally worn by the region’s nomadic shepherds – a speciality of local stallholders.
A full day’s sightseeing in Khiva begins with an ascent of the Islam Khoja minaret, the city’s tallest and most prominent building, which is embellished with handsome bands of turquoise tiles. A narrow, steep flight of steps corkscrews to the viewing platform at the top where a fabulous 360-degrees view over the city is revealed. Sumptuous tilework, painted ceilings, finely carved wood pillars and exquisite calligraphy adorn the remarkable ensemble of palaces and madrasas surviving in the Itchan Kala. Your guide will lead you through the highlights in the morning, leaving you free to wander, shop or lounge in your hotel during the afternoon.
A long drive across the Kyzl Kum desert to Bukhara takes up most of today. En route, you’ll traverse the Amu Darya River, known in the time of Alexander the Great (who crossed it twice) as the ‘Oxus’. Nearly a mile wide, the river is still an impressive sight, despite the fact much of its water is nowadays diverted into vast fields of cotton. Your lunch stop will be at a traditional Uzbek restaurant just off the highway, which serves particularly succulent kebabs, salads and freshly baked bread. All being well, you should arrive in Bukhara in time for a short wander around the historic centre, near your hotel, before supper. Start at the shimmering Lyab-i Hauz pond at its ensemble of 16th-century architectural masterpieces.
The monuments of Bukhara rank among the most striking and best preserved in all of Central Asia. The majority were erected by the Timurid Dynasty and the Shaybanids in the 16th century, after the city had been destroyed three-hundred years earlier by Genghis Kahn. One of the only structures spared by the Mongol warlord was the Minara-i Kalan, a magnificent brick minaret whose distinctive profile has dominated Bukhara since 1127AD. Below it, facing each other from opposite sides of a large piazza, are the mosaic-tiled facades and turquoise domes of the Kalan Mosque and Mir-i Arab Madrasa – two of the most spellbinding buildings ever constructed in Asia. This afternoon is at leisure to relax and shop in one of the many bazaars
This morning transfer to the northwest of the old walled city, the Ark citadel is a rather more implacable and functional edifice, its sloping walls enclosing the labyrinthine palace where the British emissaries, Stoddart and Conolly, met with untimely deaths in 1842. This afternoon is at leisure This evening you’ll be invited to attend a performance of traditional Uzbek music and dance at the Nadir Divan Begi Madrasa.
Bukhara - Samarkand
Today you’ll drive east through the green belt lining the Zeravshan River to Samarkand, pausing for lunch at a pottery in the town of Gijduvan. The Narzullayev family have been making ceramics on the same site here for five generations, according to methods used in the area for literally thousands of years. You’ll see how pots are thrown and fired in a traditional kiln, with glazes made from desert plants and local minerals. A wide selection of plates and pots are available for purchase. On arrival in Samarkand, you’ll have time to freshen up at your hotel before a visit to Timur’s azure-domed tomb, the Gur-i Amir. Inside, the site of the great king’s remains (actually in the crypt below) is marked by a beautiful slab of polished Chinese jade – thought to be the largest of its kind in the world. After dinner, you’ll be at leisure – time for photographers to visit the Registan to see the great square under floodlights
A memorable excursion awaits today as you visit the oasis town of Shakhrisabz, 50 miles (80km) south of Samarkand, on the far side of the Gysar Mountains. It was the birthplace of Timur – a fact celebrated by a crop of wonderful 14th and 15th-century monuments, foremost among them the majestic Kok Gumbaz mosque, with its three vibrant turquoise domes. The remnants of Timur’s own Summer Palace, the Ak-Saray, comes a close second: sublime blue, white and gold mosaics embellish the surviving gateway of the building. After lunch at a local restaurant, head back to Samarkand. In the late afternoon, explore the tombs of the Timurid queens at Shah-i Zinda – a wonderfully vibrant collection of buildings featuring some dazzling tilework.
A full morning’s sightseeing in Samarkand today starts with a visit to the Registan, the most spectacular ensemble of buildings in Central Asia. It comprises three separate madrasas, or theological colleges, lining three sides of a plaza that once served as the city’s main market square. Behind the richly decorated facades are hidden cloistered courtyards where the priests’ and students cells today hold small crafts and souvenir shops. One of our favourite is Babur’s musical instrument boutique, where visitors can enjoy impromptu performances of Uzbek classical and folk music. From the Registan, you’ll drive to the giant Bibi Khanym mosque, whose construction was funded with loot from Timur’s India campaign of 1398. Conceived on a vast scale, it was, in its day, the largest and most impressive mosque in the Islamic world, and still presents an imposing spectacle, despite the fact most of the building collapsed in the 19th century and had to be almost completely rebuilt. Before breaking for lunch, we’ll round off the morning with a visit to the wonderful Urgut market, next door to the mosque and a great place for picking up local dried fruit, nuts and textiles.
Samarkand - Tashkent
This morning, you’ll visit Afrosiab, the site of ancient Samarkand, occupied between 500BC and 1220AD, where a small museum holds a precious collection of Sogdian murals. We’ll then call at a nearby silk carpet weaving workshop before heading to the station for the high speed train to Tashkent (This journey is dependent on train schedules, alternatively this journey will be by road). In the evening, you’ll enjoy a visit to the Alishers Navoi Theatre for either a ballet or opera performance (depending on scheduled programming).
Tashkent - London
After breakfast, the group will visit the capital’s Museum of Fine Arts, whose collection spans 1500 years of Central Asian history and culture. Among the many highlights are some of the Asia’s most sumptuous antique carpets, a collection of ancient suzani embroidered silk wall hangings and Buddhist figurines from the pre-Islamic Silk Road era. After Lunch at the hotel you’ll be transferred to the airport for your return flight to London
12 days from £ 3295 per person
NO SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT
2018 tour prices for Uzbekistan - A Journey of Discovery Special Group Tour
|DEPARTURE DATE||PRICE PER PERSON||SINGLE ROOM supplement||AVAILABILITY|
|Fri 14 Sep 2018||£ 3295||£ 0||Good|
For the majority of visitors, the Uzbek capital serves primarily as a gateway hub, where you can recover from your jet lag in a modern, comfortable hotel and acclimatize with shor...
In the early 19th century, the name ‘Khiva’ struck fear into the hearts of Western explorers. The capital of a famously sadistic despots known as the ‘Khans’ (direct descendants o...
The chimeric monuments of Bukhara were mostly erected by the descendant of Timur, and by the Uzbek Shaybanid dynasty who succeeded them in the 16th century. In recent years, a hug...
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