Day 29: Tashkent to Samarkand and back

Today we decided to go to Samarkand and return to Tashkent by evening. Tashkent to Samarkand is 300 kms. We tried to go by High Speed train, but we could not get reservation. So, we decided to go by car and booked one guide yesterday to take us around most important sight seeing tourist spots in Samarkand.

We left very early in the morning (6:30 am) since we plan to travel >600 kms. and the sightseeing would require >3 hours. We reached Samarkand (also known as Samarqand) at about 11 am and met the Guide.

We first went to Gur-I Amir. This is a mausoleum of the Asian conqueror Timur (also known as Tamerlane) in Samarkand. It occupies an important place in the history of Persian – Mongolian architecture as the precursor and model for later great Mughal architecture tombs, including Gardens of Babur in Kabul, Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and Taj Mahal in Agra, built by Tinur’s descendants. This monument is heavily restored.

The tomb of Taimur, his sons Shah Rukh and Miran Shah, his grand-sons and his guru are lying here. The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of 14th century.

Timur was also known as Tamerlane because he used to walk as a lame person after he got injuries in hand and legs during war. His great grand son was Babur, who went from here to India and conquered and he and his descendants ruled India for centuries before Britishers came and conquered and ruled India.

Next, we went to see Registan Square. Registan means ‘Sandy place’ or ‘desert’ in Persian. The Registan was a Public square, where people gathered to hear royal proclamations. It is framed by three madrasahs. The architecture is marvellous and spread in huge area. Now only the foundations of the madrasah and Khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of the four minarets remains.
The three Madrasahs of Registan are: Ulugh Beg Madrasah (built in 1417-1420), the Tilya-Kori Madrasah (built in 1646-1660) and the Sher-Dor Madrasah (built in 1619-1636). Madrasah is an Arabic term meaning School. Now a days there is no schools run here. The Universities are nearby.  
We saw three newly wed couples just after their marriage. The bride wore white wedding gown flowing along the floor just like in Europe. In Singapore also the brides wear similar dress. Our guide requested one of the newly married couple and they were gracious enough to take a photo with all of us.

Then we visited Bibi-Khanym Mosque. It is very near Registan square. We went by a battery- operated car. The Bibi-Khanym Mosque is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand. In the 15th Century it was one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in Islamic world. By the mid-20th century only a grandiose ruin of it survived. Major parts of the mosque were restored by Soviets.  The prayers are still taking prayers in the mosque.

Our guide deserves a special mention here. She was so spontaneous and very friendly, in addition to be very informative. She was with us for 4 hours, she became very much friendly. When she was departing, she left as if a family member is leaving.

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the people here are very warm and friendly. Today we had many instances when the people in cars driving along with us waived us. They read the details of our journey on our car and were waiving enthusiastically. When we stopped on the way, many people would ask about our journey.

We returned to the hotel at about 9pm.

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