Travel

How Uzbekistan transformed the way I travel | Travel Musings

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”  ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

As a kid, I was a fan of author Mark Twain and also geography subject. I would read both with equal enthusiasm; while Mark Twain’s accounts of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in the far back region of Mississippi would evoke a sense of adventure & also empathy for my fellow kids in less fortunate circumstances, reading about all the fascinating regions & countries in my geography textbooks would fire my imagination as well as wanderlust. I so longed to visit the majestic ruins of Petra in Jordan, the brilliant cities of Samarkand & Bukhara on the great silk road, the seemingly unreal cold Gobi Desert in Mongolia and ofcourse the  charming Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur in south India, among many destinations.

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Samarkand in Uzbekistan | Travel Diaries Uzbekistan in Central Asia #

For the lust of knowing what should not be known, we take the Golden Road to Samarkand ~ James Elroy Flecker

Samarkand, in Uzbekistan is the jewel of the Great Silk Road legacy and its most famous city. Believe to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia (and probably the world), along with Bukhara.  On my curated trip to Uzbekistan with One Life to Travel, the visit to Samarkand was kept in the last part of the itinerary, with the promise that the best has been kept for last. So when I landed in Samarkand after a long drive from Bukhara, my expectations were sky high. Samarkand dazzled me with all its finery and glamour. It is indeed the most mesmerizing city of the Great Silk Road.

We travelled to Samarkand from Bukhara by road and amidst conversations with my fellow travelers, stunning views of the Uzbeki  countryside landscape, my mind kept going back to the parting words of our local guide in Bukhara – “Bukhara and Samarkand can be compared to two women; Bukhara is like a simple beautiful village woman who is earthy in her beauty but does not have any jewels or pretty dresses to show off. Samarkand is the dazzling beautiful woman with jewels one her and many pretty dresses. While both are beautiful, they are in essence very different. So the beauty actually lies in the eyes of the beholder, which one is the greater beauty – Samarkand or Bukhara”

Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia and was the labor of love of emperor Timur (famously known as Timurlane), who made it his capital. Today, Samarkand is listed as UNESCO World Heritage site (listing in 2001) as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures.

[caption id="attachment_5334" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Ulugh Begh Observatory[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Travel Experience with All Women Group Tour in Uzbekistan | Uzbekistan Travel Diaries

While preparing for my holiday in Uzbekistan, I was most anxious about the fact that it would be my first time with an all women group.  As far as travel goes, up until that point, I had done all sorts of travel – road trips, luxury travel, family vacation, solo trips, unplanned trips, work trips in remote areas, etc. However, keeping in mind safety & economy, I had come to understand that some travel destinations are best done with a group (I guess age and having a kid for whom you are responsible as one-half primary caregiver does that to you). Now, Uzbekistan had been long on my list (read why here).  I saw a couple of curated group tours for women to the country and was also working out a solo trip. Finally, I went on curated all women trip to Uzbekistan with 'One Life to Travel'. The travel experience for me broke some myths about travelling in groups and gave me a good idea on what all to keep in mind while booking a holiday & travelling with Women Group Tour (or any package tour for that matter). Sharing my tips on travelling with all women group tours and personal experience travelling with ‘One Life to Travel’.

[caption id="attachment_5094" align="aligncenter" width="225"] At Poi Kalan Complex in Bukhara with fellow women travellers[/caption]

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Bukhara in Uzbekistan | Uzbekistan Travel Diaries #4

Bukhara! For centuries it had glimmered remote in the Western consciousness: the most secretive and fanatical of the great caravan-cities, shored up in its desert fastness against time and change.  ~ Colin Thubron in  The Lost Heart of Asia

Bukhara and Samarkand are the most famed cities of ‘The Great Silk Road’. During my school years, there was a phase when I wanted to visit the exotic lands on the silk route, after reading the much maligned NCERT history text books(to this day, it’s the imagination triggered by NCERT history/geography textbooks that’s been fuelling my travels so I don’t know why they are called boring).  The towns of Bukhara and Samarkand were on top of my list; I was so fascinated by the narrations of their grandeur and beauty. Years later, I happened to watch a documentary by an Indian Film-maker where he had travelled on the main cities of Silk Road and that increased my wish to visit these cities.

Finally, last year I fulfilled my wish when I went on an all women curated trip to Uzbekistan, visiting the cities of Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. Come along with me as I take you through a journey into Bukhara with me here.

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Uzbekistan | Uzbekistan for Indian Travellers

When I decided on travelling to Uzbekistan for my solo trip of the year, I had my own reasons which included ticking this country off my travel bucket list finally (Yes, Uzbekistan had been on my travel bucket list since childhood). However, after spending 8 fabulous days in this fantastic country, I realised that Uzbekistan had so much to offer for Indian travellers and it makes for one of the best destinations from India within the South/Central Asian region/sub-continent. As an Indian traveller/travel lover, if you haven’t thought of travelling to Uzbekistan, you should and here are top 10 reasons to visit Uzbekistan for Indian travellers:-

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Uzbekistan in Central Asia | A journey into the Great Silk Road

“Uzbekistan! Why you want to take a holiday of all places there?” The husband asked when I told him of my wish to take a curated trip to Uzbekistan. I was about to tell him at length about all the reasons, but to save time & effort, I said I just want to!! Of course, as always, he had no problems as long as safety factors were taken care of.

Uzbekistan had been on my mind for a long time; for many reasons. I got interested in the Great Silk Road or Route running through Central Asia into Europe, by reading history textbooks in schooldays, the stunning cities of Bukhara and Samarkand (which were the major cities along the famed road) fascinated me, as much as the thought of this great trading route in ancient times which people took on camels & horses to trade and conquer other civilizations. Then when I read about Russian revolution and formation of USSR, I was utterly mystified by the descriptions of Central Asian countries/regions ‘merging’ into the Soviet Union. I wondered how these regions with such a diverse and different culture survived or thrived in the Union, how the people actually felt and lived in Communist rule in these regions.

So it was with great excitement that I finalized my curated trip to Uzbekistan, which was scheduled before Diwali. I was travelling with an all women group Company ‘One Life to Travel’ for first time, which added to my anxiety (and a separate post shall be written on the experience).

Uzbekistan surprised, stunned and made me fall in love with it – it’s stunning heritage, its warm people, rich culture and absolutely rocking night life; it has been one of my most enriching travels and I am glad I took this journey sooner than later (as was my original plan).

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Sushmita Sarkar

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