Published: October 8th 2009October 8th 2009
Uzbekistan has many firsts and largests. Muimubarack Madras in Tashkent has the first Qur'an, created by Calif Osman in 648 AD. Bibi Khanym mosque in Samarkand is the biggest mosque in the east, constructed by Timur in 1403. Uzbekistan has the most diverse rulers over the millennium, with Persians, Alexander the Great, Arabs (replaced Zoroastrianism), Genghis, Timur, Czars, and Soviets taking turns ruling the land.
We've been in Tashkent and Samarkand so far. First thing that jumps out is the incredibly clean streets. There is no trash anywhere, even in dark corners of the old city (Melody should relocate here). Second thing that jumps out is the people's features. The genes are so well mixed over.
With its complex and colorful history, every notable place here had multiple
names, each one signifying the fall and rise of successive empires. While
still a police state, people seem to be happy in the peaceful and clean environment. And why shouldn't they be. Sustenance of the body and the mind are abundant; a delicious lunch, a concert at the extravagant national theater, and a trip to the top of the UNESCO protected minaret all cost about $3.5. Then again, we are all
Muimubarack Madras. Houses the first Qur'an, created by Calif Osman, written in 648 AD. Gazelle leather, 380 pages, fullest in the world. Timur brought it to Samarkand after his Arabian conquests in 1338 AD to wash away local's sins.
living in some sort of police state; it's just that citizens of some countries are more cognisant of that fact.
Tashkent, the capital, has population of 2.5mm, holds 10% of the country's population, and supposedly is the biggest city in Central Asia. Local / Russian population is 60/40 during Soviet time, and now it's 80/20. 80% of the city is Sunni Muslim, which was spread before days of Timur in the 14th century. There used to be Jews here during WWII, but during Soviet times, they all relocated, willingly or unwillingly.
Samarkand is called the city of blue domes. Blue was chosen by Timur to be the state color, reflecting the expansive sky and his mighty rule. The city is 2,750 years old, contemporary of Rome and Babylon. Alex the Great said it is a magnificent city, but we don't get to witness its magnificence during ancient times, since Persian/Arabic sites are now ashes of war. All that's remained is from the Timur period, thanks to Czar and Soviets' restoration effort.
Bukhara and Khiva next, then onto Turkmenistan. Until next time.
There are more photos below