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Published: November 23rd 2019
03 Nov: Starting the day at break of dawn was not everybody's cup of tea but I loved it! A one hour flight got us to Urgench from where we drove to Khiva, a small, walled city with labyrinthine alleyways and dazzling turquoise-domed mosques. Enroute was the cotton fields, then modern Khiva , nice clean roads and no frill apartments. THEN we entered the gates of Khiva! Wow!
Inspite of all the pictures we had seen, I wasn't prepared for the sheer magnificence of the huge minarets,impeccably-preserved gigantic madarassas and mosques . The brown mud fortress is a stark contrast to the exquisitely intricate facade of the buildings and you get the feeling of being in a surreal world! The whole atmosphere is like a bustling movie set with local music, wedding dances, colourful shops and spectacular architecture.
As if 2 degrees temperature was not bad enough , the gusts of wind pierced our bones, but the mystical stories of the minarets, intrigues of the palaces, wonder of the mosques and the intricate handicrafts of the locals kept us suitably engaged . The evening exuded cheer as single malt flowed and the guide tempted us to go out again
with the promise of a typical Khiva meal. It was worth it! The night view of the lit up minarets was enchanting indeed!
History facts: Khiva was a desert on the silk route with one big water source around which a civilization developed. Khorezm as it was known was stripped of its monarchy during the times of Lenin when the outer city developed
Begani shadi mein Abdulla diwana! Joined a wedding to celebrate the mood ! The bride did not seem too pleased though, with the cameras shifting to all of us and away from her! But we will remember this 5 min interlude with fondness forever - the bridegroom's friends thouroughly enjoyed the over 60's women throwing inhibitions to the winds and dancing with gay abandon!
Khiva brought out the girls in us- sadly the men behaved their age!
04 %05 Nov Nov: The icy cold winds in Khiva stemmed my plan for the early morning walk, so when we left Khiva I did not have that satisfying feeling of having had enough of it! Maybe someday I would like to come and stay there for a while. Our bus fetched up by the morning
and we left for Bukhara - 450 km away.
The journey from Khiva to Bukhara was long and the scenery rather dull. But the company was great, so singing old hindi songs in chorus kept us entertained - however the gentlemen did not seem very appreciative - they preferred to rejuvenate by sleeping. It was desert for hours on end so there was no point of staring out of the window, we decided to play mahjong on the rear seats. Time then just flew! Stopped at the highway right next to the Turkman border and a lunch place, and reached Bukhara as the sun was deciding to go down!
What a charming place ! It's like an art village. The hotel is a heritage building in the old town, so after quickly settling in , we dived into the craft bazaar for a quick look. Would have loved to hang around but the 1degree C temperature was daunting. Look forward to the morning to unravel Bukhara.
History facts: Bukhara was the center for first Greco bactrians and the Kushan Empire. Genghis khan burnt down half the city but it revived and survived the Russians too. Bukhara was
dry and arid in the BC years. It only became attractive once a water source was found and then saw the shades of human nature unfold on its history! Originating as an Aryan invasion, it was once an intellectual centre of the Islamic world. It started with a persian empire, then to Alexander the Great to the Kushan empire to Mongolian rulers . Russian revolution took a toll on the monuments but reconstruction on the 19th century restored its charm.
Yesterday was spent travelling and by the time we reached, we just saw the promise in this city as we drove into Bukhara. Today in the greed of getting the best out of this city, we braved the chill of early morning temp of -4 and set out to get a feel of the old town before all others woke up. Bukhara at dawn was refreshing, and alluring! By 10 we were on the way with others to explore the city on the official city tour.
The madrassas, minarets and mosques intermingle with bazaars and are a world away from the 2019 world! The stories narrated by the guide take you to the era of the Silk route
and the outstanding tile work on the monuments makes you wonder whom to rever more- Man or God? The stunning dome of the Mir-i-Arab Medressa in turquoise, the Samanid mausoleum, the famous Kalyan Minaret, Mir-i-Arab Madrasah, chor-minor and the Ark of Bukhara all were mesmerizing in the architecture and the colors used! Wow! Oophs and aahs resounded all through as the group moved through the streets, monuments, bazaars full of the most exquisite embroidery, pottery and jewellery. The Bukhara carpets were drool worthy but thankfully sanity prevailed and we didn't lug them home.
The evening gluttony at the Grand Bukhra with dance and music was the perfect culmination to the day! We leave Bukhara with a sense of Awe , reverence, and of course lots of shopping!
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