An Oasis of Medieval Grandeur

Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Aug 1, 2019

The oases of Samarkhand and Bukhara have always been major stops along the Silk Road and are no less so these days on the tourist trail. Justifiably famous for its well-preserved medieval monuments, Bukhara is a delight. I happily did my tourist duty and wandered around the old town re-visiting the sites. The pride of Bukhara is the square with the Po-i-Kalyan, Miri Arab madrassa and the Kalyan minaret.

Hemmed in inside a residential area is another site. Only the gatehouse of a once-large mosque remains, called for obvious reasons Chor Minar, or four towers.

No less important is the citadel of Ark of Bukhara with its newly renovated bulging walls and museum within. Nearby is the Bolo Hauz mosque with its tall wooden pillars and painted ceilings reminiscent of Khiva’s Ichon Qala.

Further afield is the Samanid mausoleum and to my mind, the most beautiful. Dotted in between are dozens of mosques and madrasses, most getting a fresh polish now.

Lyabi Hauz with its pond and endearingly kitsch cement camels are humming with tourists, both foreign and domestic. The newly promoted tourism industry, relaxation of rigid regulations, visa-free rules for a large number of European countries and the ease of e-visas for others have meant an astronomic jump in the number of tourists. Busloads of package tourists complete with flag-toting guides make their way to the monuments that dot the old town. One- or two-week holiday makers are among the most common tourists. There are motorized rides for those not wishing to walk and even a hop-on, hop-off bus!

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