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

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.

(more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Visiting Khiva in Uzbekistan | Uzbekistan Travel Diaries #3

The first major destination of my Uzbekistan travel itinerary was Khiva, one of the first UNESCO World heritage sites in Uzbekistan and it left me completely captivated with its rugged untamed beauty. I had come to Uzbekistan, in lure of The Great Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, but it was Khiva where I left a piece of my heart back. Sharing my incredible visit to Khiva in this story.

Landing at Ugrench Airport (flying in from Tashkent), we were greeted by sunny skies and a chilling windy temperature of Minus 2 degrees Celsius.  We made a dash for the Airport Arrival terminal getting down from the aircraft. My tummy was a bit under the weather (most probably with all the drinking and dancing I did last night) and I wondered how I would survive the drive to Khiva, which was around 1 hour and more importantly, how would I last the rest 7 days of sightseeing, if this was the condition on Day 2. With these thoughts, I settled in the car with other fellow travelers and it wasn’t until I noticed the golden yellow fortification/fort walls on one side that I realized we had reached Khiva.

[caption id="attachment_4921" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Itchan Kala fortified Walls[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Golden Smiles of Uzbeki People | Uzbekistan Travel Diaries #2

The first thing I noticed on my Uzbekistan Trip, standing in Immigration Line of Tashkent International Airport was the gold teeth of some of the Uzbeki local populace. That got me intrigued and I asked my Tour Leader Jayanti about it. She said that this was very common practice for people of Uzbekistan and sometimes whole sets of teeth are in gold! That got me really curious and apart from all the stunning monuments & breathtaking natural beauty I photographed, one of my obsessions became clicking the ‘golden smiles of Uzbeki People’.

Sharing some of the beautiful, warm and ‘golden’ smiles of people of Uzbekistan, they were most gracious to be clicked by me.

(more…)

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).

(more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Walking Safari in Satpura Tiger Reserve | Madhya Pradesh, India

In the light of golden evening sun at Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh India, while I sat crouched on the ground watching wild boars walking around about 500 meters from me behind a bush, I wondered why is it that I had goose bumps all over; I mean I saw the same wild boars in the morning too on a Jeep safari. Then it hit me….I was on the ground walking without the safety of a jeep. And that was the thrill of a walking Safari I guess…One gets to experience wildlife in its raw form, without the cushion of any jeep or elephant ride. I was at same level with the wild animals and I realized I was a pretty vulnerable species!

[caption id="attachment_4766" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Walking behind our guide in Satpura tiger reserve Walking behind our guide in Satpura tiger reserve[/caption]

The walking safari in Satpura Tiger Reserve was part of the long weekend getaway with Forsyth Lodge and I had many unique experiences on this trip (including Canoe Safari in Satpura ). The walking safari was highest on the thrill quotient too as our senses were on maximum alert. We spotted many animals such as deers, wild boars and many kinds of birds; however we were not lucky enough to spot tigers or leopards.

(more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Baijnath Temple in Palampur Himachal Pradesh, India

I am fascinated by the mythological narratives related with the ancient cities & heritage, especially of my faith Hinduism.  Although, I am more of a spiritual person who most often is a bit lazy about the faith related rituals in my daily life, I am constantly wanting to know about the various narratives of our gods & goddesses; I find that Hinduism has very nicely emphasised many great teachings on humanity, environment and life, through the mythlogical narratives of the various gods & goddesses that are worshipped & revered. One of my favourite Gods (yes I say favourite as I feel a connection to him) is Lord Shiva. I make it a point to visit temples or places related to the mythology of Lord Shiva whenever I’m travelling to a destination (i.e. if it is supposed to have one).

Some months back, I visited Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, India on an invite by Himachal Heritage Village for a long weekend getaway and amidst many wonderful experiences, a serene experience was making a visit to Baijnath Temple, located in main town. Sharing my experience of my Visit to Baijnath Temple in Palampur.

[caption id="attachment_4744" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Baijnath Temple complex Baijnath Temple complex[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island | Hong Kong

Po Lin Monastery, located on Ngong Ping pleateau of Lantau Island in Hong Kong is a pretty Buddhist monastery complex, located amidst beautiful surroundings.  The star attraction of Po Lin monastery is ofcourse The Big Buddha’ or Tian Tan Buddha and it is listed as one of the top 10 attractions of Hong Kong by Hong Kong Tourism Board itself. However, I found the monastery to be a serene & relaxing place on a leisurely stroll through the monastery after visiting The Big Buddha along with my friend (on my solo trip to Hong Kong). Sharing my experience of a visit to Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

[caption id="attachment_4719" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Po Lin Monastery main building Po Lin Monastery main building[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Instagram
Facebook
RSS