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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Uzbekistan tours

 

Most often, this is the first question people think of after they’ve decided to visit Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and/or Turkmenistan. Each country, or taken collectively as a region, presents the traveler with a cornucopia of choices and decisions to make before they go. Once those decisions are made, then we come to the best time to travel.

At Five Stans Adventure, we take this question very seriously because the comforts of our clients are our top priority when they visit Central Asia. The geography of the region is highly diverse, possessing high mountain peaks and hot deserts. Equally, the temperatures – which are the most important gauge to a comfortable tour – can be torturously hot to ice age cold. Additionally, much will depend on what type of tour you are planning to do.

For most travelers, the best time to travel in Central Asia is in the spring (March – May) or fall (September – November) months. The chart below will help to explain things a little better:

Month

Avg. High

Avg. Low

Mean

Avg. Precip.

January

42°F/6°C

26°F/-3°C

33°F/1°C

2.20 in/55.9 mm

February

46°F/8°C

29°F/-2°C

36°F/2°C

1.90 in/48.3 mm

March

57°F/14°C

39°F/4°C

48°F/9°C

2.80 in/71.1 mm

April

71°F/22°C

49°F/9°C

60°F/16°C

2.50 in/63.5 mm

May

81°F/27°C

56°F/13°C

69°F/21°C

1.30 in/33.0 mm

June

91°F/33°C

63°F/17°C

78°F/26°C

0.30 in/7.6 mm

July

96°F/36°C

66°F/19°C

82°F/28°C

0.20 in/5.1 mm

August

93°F/34°C

63°F/17°C

78°F/26°C

0.10 in/2.5 mm

September

83°F/28°C

54°F/12°C

68°F/20°C

0.20 in/5.1 mm

October

69°F/21°C

45°F/7°C

56°F/13°C

1.30 in/33.0 mm

November

57°F/14°C

38°F/3°C

46°F/8°C

1.80 in/45.7 mm

December

47°F/8°C

31°F/-1°C

38°F/3°C

2.10 in/53.3 mm



A quick scan of the data confirms what I pointed out earlier as far as the best months to travel. Of course, it’s always helpful to know when the major holidays take place which could effect your plans, particularly Ramadan, which varies from year to year. In 2017, the tentative dates are May 27 – June 24, so this year it happens right at the tail end of the travel season.

Follow Five Stans Adventure on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin for the latest news in tourism in Central Asia!

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Caravanserai: A roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day’s journey.

By the looks of this definition you might think we were describing a motel! In a few ways there are some similarities, but for the most part the differences were significant. The role that the caravanserais played was a crucial necessity to the survival of the Great Silk Road and its travelers. While it wasn’t unusual for travelers to sleep on the side of the road, it certainly wasn’t a comfortable place being exposed to the elements and potential attacks from thieves. We’re fairly certain that many of them would have preferred to travel from one caravanserai to the next and avoid sleeping outside. To bridge this necessity enterprising entrepreneurs from countries throughout the vast Great Silk Road network built them, and a few have survived to this day.

For the most part the caravanserai had a simple, but practical, architectural design. They were square or rectangular in shape with a single entrance that was large enough to allow camels to enter. The central area, or courtyard, was an uncovered and open space that allowed travelers to maneuver their livestock and merchandise. Inside the walls of the caravanserai were stalls to accommodate the traveler and his goods. While they lacked an ice machine the caravanserai provided water for drinking, bathing, and cleaning, the most precious commodity on the Great Silk Road. Additionally, supplies were made available for purchase, like fodder for the animals or other useful tools that a caravan could use.

While there are a large number of caravanserais in the world, one of the most famous is in Navoi, Uzbekistan. The Rabati Malik was built between 1068 – 1080 A.D. and originally occupied 8,277 sq. m. Inspired by Iranian architectural design, the portal is arch-shaped and complete with Arabic inscriptions. Unfortunately, an earthquake in 1968 demolished what had remained of this beautiful caravanserai. However, many photographs were found which will allow future restoration projects to remain true to its original design.

On January 18, 2008 the Rabati Malik was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List (Tentative).

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You’ve done everything possible to prepare yourself to travel to Central Asia. Your passport is up to date, your visas are signed and stamped, and your bags are packed. What could go wrong? As we know, some of our best memories of travel come from the unexpected surprises that occur; whether it’s a cab driver who gets lost, stopping at random pond to swim, or making a new friend. However, there are some events that you can prevent from overtaking you, in particular the weather. While we can’t control the weather, there are some things you can do to help you minimize the effects it has on a schedule and get you back on track.

Before we move forward with our helpful suggestions, be assured that Five Stans Adventure will wait for you no matter the length of your delay. While we do everything we can to follow your flight online, it’s always helpful to inform us when you expect to arrive. After all, we want to be ready to treat you like royalty when you get here!

 

1. Anticipation

When bad weather forces airlines to rearrange their schedules, ticket cancellation fees will be waived. If you anticipate that the weather will force a change, proactively reschedule your flight before or after the storm is supposed to occur. If you are unable to secure a ticket(s), check your airline’s website for seat openings often as things can change very quickly during this time.

 

2. Stay Informed

If your flight is scheduled two days before or after a storm, check its status on the airline’s website; while you’re there sign-up for flight alerts, if possible. Most – if not all – airlines post their latest flight information on Facebook, while many others resort to Twitter to keep their customers updated. There are various apps at your disposal, so do your research to learn which one is appropriate for your needs.

 

3. Rescheduling Strategies

If you gambled that your flight would depart on time only to learn that it was cancelled while you’re at the airport, you need to have a “Plan B” in place. While your first reaction will be to go to the ticket counter, you could get faster service by calling the airline on the phone (while simultaneously waiting in line). Others have reported some success by sending a direct message to the airline’s Twitter account for support. If these options don’t produce the results you’d prefer, you might be interested setting up “camp” in the airport’s passenger lounge and work with the ticket agent from there.

 

4. Getting a Hotel Room Quickly

During my travels I’ve seen countless people stake a claim to a waiting room bench. Some of them may not have had – or wanted – to spend the money to get a room, but you don’t have to exercise this unappealing option. To prepare yourself for a hotel search, assemble a list of those that are located close to the airport before you leave home. Having the phone numbers handy will save you time instead of going online for the necessary information. Plus, by calling them directly you’ll have a better opportunity to learn of availability and cost – something they won’t do on their website. You’ll be one step ahead of the other passengers scrambling for a room!

If you were fortunate to reserve a room, but you were able to get on an earlier than anticipated flight, most hotels will waive the cancellation fee. The assumption is that the hotel will have a list of customers waiting to take the room, but don’t be surprised if you are forced to pay a penalty fee if their list is short.

 

5. You Get What You Pay For

Like most travelers, we’re always looking to secure the best price for our plane tickets. After all, it’s one of the most expensive components to traveling and I don’t blame you for looking for a great deal. However, keep in mind that if Mother Nature forces a delay in your flight you will be treated according to the type of ticket you bought. For those who bought their tickets directly from the airline, booked through a trustworthy travel agency, or are a frequent flyer, your request will prioritized accordingly. For those who looked to save a few dollars by booking via 3rd party online travel agency be prepared to accept slower service and a lower prioritization.

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Another great traveler of many years ago was Marco Polo (1254-1324). Many of heard of the man and his amazing trip from Genoa to China from 1271 to 1295, but many have asked if it is believable. For starters he never kept a journal throughout his trip, but instead recited it to a friend in prison upon his return. Is it possible he remembered everything correctly? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

However, it’s safe to say that he spent three years in Bukhara. Traveling with his brother and uncle, they arrived in this ancient city around 1260, but this wasn’t the first time Bukhara was visited by the travelers. A few years earlier, Polo’s uncle and father had been there to establish trade and were amazed with its wealth and architecture. Upon their return to Bukhara with their precocious progeny, they spent their time selling their goods and learn the Mongol language. Most scholars believe they were forced to remain in the city due to a civil war in the Caucuses. At the time, Bukhara was reemerging as an essential caravanserai on the Great Silk Road. According to Polo’s account, the walls of the mosques were beautifully decorated with colorful mosaics, and it was one of the busiest trading centers of silk, porcelain, ivory, spices, metal ware, and everything else that was made with the greatest artistry and precision. Since the war continued to linger, the group decided to extend their travels to China as a guest of the Kublai Khan. But before they left Bukhara they visited Samarkand. He described it as a “noble and great city where there are many gardens with fruits in abundance.” Also, he referred that Christians and Muslims were tolerant of their religious differences. This can be attributed to the government that the Mongols had emplaced.

It’s unfortunate that Polo didn’t keep a daily journal of his travels, but instead we are forced to trust his memory of the preceding 25 years. Nevertheless, he was able to re-open the door to the east after the collapse of the Great Silk Road. However, the resurgence of this important economic trade route was temporary once maritime technology reduced the necessity of traveling to China via an overland route.

But that’s another story.

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In more ways than can be counted, Tashkent offers the traveler many things to see and do. Most of the sites are easily accessible by the metro, but if you prefer to hire a taxi this is acceptable, too. Choosing which sites to see are at your discretion, but place I’d like to recommend while you’re on your Uzbekistan tours Independence Square (Mustaqillik Maydoni) in Tashkent.

Occupying a space of 12 hectares in the city center, this location was once the center of government of the Kokand Khanate. When the Russians conquered Tashkent in 1865, the khanate was dissolved and the buildings were razed. In its place the Russians built a residence for the governor-general to live. Accompanied with a large garden and parade ground for inspecting troops, this location was named the “white house.” When the Soviets came to power they restructured the square and adorned it with a statue of Lenin. Through the years fountains and trees were added to give it more of a park-like appearance. In 1991 Uzbekistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and by 1992 the Lenin statue was torn down and replaced with the statue you see today – the Independence Monument. It is in the form of a globe with Uzbekistan prominently displayed on it.

Today Independence Square remains the center of the nation. All major events and holidays take place here, including New Year’s Day, Navruz, and Independence Day (of course!). A few years ago an Indian video crew was seen filming a scene for their movie, so there’s really no limit to the uses of the Square.

While you are conducting your Uzbekistan tours, be sure to visit the numerous statues and monuments that recognize the heroes and heroines of this great land. Nearby is the Uzbek Senate Building, Arch Ezgulik, Memory Lane, and the Cabinet of Ministers. Set aside some time to casually stroll along the Ankhor River and enjoy a cola or a cold beer, too!

An Uzbekistan tours must include a stop in Tashkent. It’s a dynamic, energetic city that has something to offer for everyone!

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What I love about Bukhara is that the old town is easy to explore by foot. When I visited this grand city, one of my favorite times was in the morning as the sun was rising. Not only did I enjoy being so close to so much history while the city was still rubbing its eyes from a good night’s rest, I loved how the sun cast its beams on the many architectural wonders. Time spent on an Uzbekistan tours in Bukhara is time well spent!

As another example of the Sufi imprint on Central Asia, khanaqas (guest houses) were built in various places throughout the region in the 16th and 17th centuries. Sufis traveling in the region would stay here, usually located close to the pir’s (spiritual master) house. Later they became Sufi meeting houses and a zikr-khana (room for ritual performances) was added. Interestingly, a legend has been attached to the Nadir Divan-begi Madrassa that must be shared. Originally, Nadir Divan-begi, a local businessman, designed his building as a khanaqa to provide a service to the travelers in the region. However, the Khan happened to pass by one day and complimented Divan-begi on the beauty of his building and promptly converted it to a madrassa.

Today you can visit the Nadir Divan-begi Madrassa and see for yourself the beautiful artwork that adorns the façade above the entrance. Located at one end of the Lyab-i-Hauz, it’s a casual stroll to view this beautiful building after your morning tea. While you’re on your Uzbekistan tours, promise yourself that you’ll take that morning walk to explore the wonders of Bukhara!

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Like many ancient cities, Bukhara has many small and overlooked architectural gems that have bedazzled travelers for many years. So it is with my strong recommendation that you take the time to enjoy Bukhara and explore it at your own pace. If you decide to go too quickly, you’ll find that you skipped over one or two buildings that deserved your attention. The building I’m writing about is the Chor Minor Minarets and as you go to the sites on your Uzbekistan tours, this one will stay in your memory for a long, long time.

Chor Minor comes from the Tajik language meaning “four minarets.” Chor Minor was built in 1807 by a wealthy Bukharan businessman of Turkmen origin called Khalif Niazkul. His original design consisted of the four minarets, a madrassa, a courtyard, and a small pond. Unfortunately, the madrassa was razed for an unknown reason – at least as far as I know – so all that remains is what you see today, which is nothing to be disappointed about! Some experts have suggested that the cluster seems to have an Indian architectural influence, and you may see this resemblance yourself. Interestingly, the Chor Minor was built by a Turkmen in Uzbekistan that is named in the Tajik language using Indian architectural design.

While you are conducting your Uzbekistan tours, be sure to take the time to visit the Chor Minor. The closest landmark is the Labi-haus, and it’s highly recommended that you along through the side streets and through the neighborhoods of Bukhara to reach this gem. The slow pace will give you the opportunity to absorb the local culture; something that’s often overlooked when people visit this magnificent city!

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At one time, Sufism played a major role in the development of religion in Central Asia. Much has been written about it and if you look closely, you will find many monuments to it throughout the region. Present day Uzbekistan was the home of many Sufi scholars and missionaries, with Tashkent being the focus for many of them. As a testimony to the Sufi presence, the traveler can visit the Mausoleum of Sheikh Zaynudin Bobo. Many who visit Tashkent make it a point to include Sufi gem on their Uzbekistan tours.

Sheikh Zaynudin Bobo was a Sufi missionary and was sent to Tashkent by the order of his father, Diya al-din Abu 'n-Najib as-Surawardi (1097–1168), the founder of the Suhrawardiyya order. The dates of Zynudin’s birth and death are unknown, but it was recorded that he lived to the age of 95. His remains are most likely located at the village of Orifon near the Kukcha Gate, which is today located within the Tashkent city limits.

Nearby, there’s an underground cell that he used for his 40-day meditation sessions that dates to the 12th century and a passageway that was built in the 14th century. The original mausoleum was built in the 16th century, but eventually succumbed to the numerous earthquakes that afflicted Tashkent over the centuries. A new one was built in the 19th century and remains standing today.

The history of Tashkent is painted with many different cultures, creeds, and religions, and Sufism provides another color to it. An Uzbekistan tours will give you an opportunity to visit this shrine to the past and to many others!

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With over two million people living in Tashkent and a long history behind it, the best way to capture its story is to visit one of its monuments. Due to the many earthquakes it has endured over the centuries, many of them have not survived. However, it you look hard enough you can find a few of these gems in the city. One of them is the Khazrati Imam Complex. When you visit Tashkent on your Uzbekistan tours make sure that you take the time to visit this wonderful set of buildings.

The Khazrati Imam Complex is the Islamic center of Uzbekistan. The complex is built near the tomb of Khazrati Imam, the first imam of Tashkent in the 16th century. His contributions include his roles as a scientist, Koranic and Hadith scholar, poet, and craftsman.

The complex includes the following buildings: Barakhan Madrassa (16th century), Tila Shaykh Mosque (16th century), Muyi Mubarok Madrassa (16th century), the tomb of Kaffal Shashi (16th century), Namozgah Mosque (19th century), and the Hazrat Imam Mosque (2007).

Located in the old town of Tashkent, be sure to take the time to view the oldest surviving copy of the Koran in the world at the Muyi Mubarok Madrassa. It’s purportedly to have the blood of Uthman ibn Affan who was killed while reading it.

If you scratch the surface of this beautiful city, you’ll find that there are many outstanding and profound sites to visit, including the Khazrati Imam Complex. During your Uzbekistan tours it’s important to visit this site and the hundreds more that are available for you!

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Recently my partner in Tashkent, Rakhmadjon, alerted me to watch a video that was televised on one of Russia’s top television stations. There are many videos on the internet about Uzbekistan, but very few of them are able to capture simultaneously the country’s deep history, fascinating culture, and modern, vibrant life. I believe that the more videos that are produced about this country to encourage people to go on an Uzbekistan tours, I’m all for it. Equally important, if Rakhmadjon wants me to watch a video, I will watch it.

And watch it I did. Entitled, “Pearl of the Desert” the video captured my attention right from the beginning. What sets this one apart is the high-quality cinematography and timely narration. I have to take my hat off to the Russians for producing an outstanding video!

Unfortunately, the video is in Russian without English language subtitles. However, this shouldn’t stop you from watching it. The breathtaking photography and video shots alone make this a great video. If anything will inspire you to go on an Uzbekistan tours, this video will do it!

Here’s the link to the documentary – and happy viewing to you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gb4aGIYmrM

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It was just one of the “right time at the right place” moments for me. I was working in Tashkent and rode the Metro just about every day to get around. On this particular day I was sitting in the front wagon when the driver opened the door, stuck his head out, and motioned for me to come and sit with him while the train was riding the rails. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity and had the ride of my life as we buzzed around underneath the streets of Tashkent. What prompted this invitation I’ll never know, but I can say that this is just another example of the unaccounted friendliness of the Uzbek people.

For anyone who’s spent time in Tashkent it becomes quickly apparent that the key to survival comes from learning about – and using – the Metro. From a practical standpoint the system is highly reliable and the cars are clean; also, it provides a brief respite from the summer heat. But from the tourist’s view, it’s the stations that set it apart from every urban metro system in the world. The Metro is the pride and joy of Tashkent and you should make every effort to ride on it at every opportunity. If your Uzbekistan tours itinerary includes a stop in Tashkent – which it most likely does – pay a visit to the Metro!

Planning for the Metro began soon after the earthquake of 1966, and construction started in 1968. However, it wasn’t until 1977 when the first line (red) was opened. A second line (blue) was opened in 1984, and a third (green) opened in 2001. A fourth line (yellow) is currently being constructed and will be completed in the near future. Today, there are 29 stations dotted throughout the city along 36.2 kilometers (22.5 miles) of track.

Let me start by saying I’ve ridden on many Metros throughout the world and all of them had their own special charm, but when it comes to efficiency and beauty nothing compares to the Tashkent Metro. It is simply the best I’ve ever encountered. The stations all represent the theme that their named for. Unlike the boring “cookie-cutter” style that most metro stations in the world have adopted, Tashkent dedicated a lot of time and thought to make each Metro station have its own style. The beauty of the artwork certainly makes waiting for the train to arrive a much more enjoyable experience. You may be tempted to miss your train just to observe the artwork a little longer!

Sadly, photography and video are forbidden at the Metro because it’s considered a military installation. However, there are books about the Metro loaded with pictures available at bookstores around the city.

For many tourists, Tashkent is their point of entry and the first city of their Uzbekistan tours visit. If you have a few hours after you get settled at the hotel, be sure to visit the nearest Metro station and ride the rails. You will always remember this great experience!

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There are a large number of great historians in Central Asia that have contributed to recording he events of their times. One of them was Abd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī.

Abd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī was born in Herat (modern Afghanistan) on November 7th, 1413. He was anointed with the name “Samarqandī” because this was where his parents were born. During that time Herat was the seat of Shah Rukh’s court. For most of his life he studied, along with his elder brother, under their father who was the qazi (judge) in Shah Rukh’s court. At the age of 16 he received his license and when he turned 24 his father died and he was appointed as the new qazi. When he was 29 he was appointed the ambassador to Calcutta, India, a post he held until he was 32.

While Abd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī wrote extensively of Temurid history, his greatest contribution was his observations of life and culture in western India in the 1440s. His descriptions of their wealth and beauty have proven beyond a doubt of their value to modern historians. Other important writings of his were accounts of Calcutta’s booming shipping trade in the 1400s, and Shah Rukh’s diplomatic relations with the Ming Dynasty in China.

Abd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī died in 1482.

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There are so many pockets of history in Central Asia that it boggles my little mind. It seems that every time I conduct a little research or talk to a local friend, I learn a little more about these places and the story behind them. One of these places is the Shakh Fazil Mausoleum. I tell you this, if the story I tell you happened today it would smother the internet. However, this happened more than 1,000 years ago and the only place the story was recorded was on ancient tomes. While it is relatively easy to access the mausoleum on a Kyrgyzstan tour, it can be included on one of the many Uzbekistan tours that cross into the Ferghana Valley.

The Shakh Fazil Museum is located in Kyrgyzstan’s Ferghana Valley in a village called Gulistan. The legend behind the mausoleum begins with an Arab army, under the religion of Islam, made their way here to ensure that the locals adopted Islam as their religion. The locals weren’t keen on being converted, so they devised a plan to attack the Arabs during Friday prayers. Their plans surpassed their wildest dreams and 2,700 unarmed soldiers were beheaded. One of the survivors, a black woman by the name of Bulan, was a slave or a consort of the leader of the army, Jarir. Although it was forbidden to bury the dead, Bulan defied tradition and washed the blood from the skulls in a nearby stream and buried them. As a reward Allah turned her into a white woman, although others say that it was her hair that turned white from the shock of the massacre. While Jarir somehow was able to return to Arabia, Bulan lived here for her remaining days, tending to the graves of the fallen.

Jarir’s son, Shakh Fazil, learned of the massacre when he was a boy and plotted to return and avenge this misdeed. He was successful and ruled this area of Central Asia for 16 years until he was poisoned at a feast. The mausoleum was built by Shakh Fazil’s son, but purportedly the first mosque in Central Asia was erected here, too.

While the Shakh Fazil Mausoleum underwent restorations in 1978 and 1996, it still retains its authenticity. In fact, the mausoleum is part of a complex of ancient historical sites, including the shrine to Bulan, the aforementioned mosque, several vaults, and a necropolis (with 2,700 heads).

Located north of Namangan (Uzbekistan), the Shakh Fazil Mausoleum in Ala Buka, Kyrgyzstan can be easily visited by travelers while in the Ferghana Valley on an Uzbekistan tours. However, it can be visited while on a Kyrgyzstan tour, especially if you find yourself in the south of the country.

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One of the most fascinating and mystical adventures to be had in Uzbekistan is among its ancient architectural and archaeological buildings. Most are pleasing to the eye in an artistic way, while others are amazing simply by its geographic position on the landscape. The Ayaz Kala is a chain of forts in western Uzbekistan offer the perfect opportunity to combine an exploratory, educational, and surreal experience to your Uzbekistan tours.

Getting to the Ayaz Kalas is relatively quite easy. Located about an hour drive from Khiva in Karakalpakstan, most of the trip is done on paved roads although there are portions where the roads are dirt, but easily passable.

There are three Ayaz Kalas to see. Ayaz Kala I was built approximately during the 4th – 3rd B.C. As with most forts during this period, it was designed to protect the surrounding farms and villages from marauding nomads. Built on a 100 meter high hill, the outlook provides an outstanding line of sight far into the distance. The architect of this fort provided for the construction of 45 watchtowers which certainly gave the guards an ample view to spot the enemy well in advance.

Ayaz Kala II was built between the 6th and 8th A.D. Designed to protect the farms that surrounded it much like Ayaz Kala I, these farms were owned by dihqans, feudal landowners who received their plots as payment for their services to the Afrighid dynasty. This kala was built on a 40 meter high hill which afforded them plenty of time to anticipate an imminent attack. Scientists believe this fort was in use until the Mongols paid a visit to conduct their “business” in the 13th century.

Ayaz Kala III was a fortified garrison that was built between the 1st and 2nd A.D. An adjoining building may have been built much earlier between the 5th and 4th B.C.

There are many things that make a visit to Ayaz Kalas special. Not only are you a witness to the ancient architectural style of fortification, but you can see for yourself what life was like for these people. The best time to photograph these wonders is in the evening when the sun’s rays cast long shadows while illuminating the walls of the forts. I highly recommend that you take a few hours at the end of the day to travel the short distance to these forts while you’re on your Uzbekistan tours. It will be among the top highlights of your memorable trip to Central Asia!

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You’ve traveled a long distance and you’ve been moving quickly to see the amazing sites of Kyrgyzstan, or maybe you’ve been on an Uzbekistan tours and on the next stage of your trip you find yourself in Bishkek. You want to slow down a bit, take a deep breath, and just enjoy life for what it is. After all, how many times will you find yourself in Central Asia – the most beautiful part of the world? Most people enjoy the peaceful distractions of the park and in this Bishkek will not disappoint you. My highest recommendation encourages you to escape to Panfilov Park, perhaps the best one to visit in the city.

Initially, the park was opened in 1879 as a municipal garden for horticulture students and later it was renamed Red Star Park because the shape of the walkways represented, well, a five-pointed star. A little more about that later in this story.

Panfilov Park is named after the Soviet Union hero from World War II (Great Patriotic War), General Ivan Vasilyevich Panfilov, who was killed while defending Moscow from the Nazi’s invasion in 1941. Located in the heart of Bishkek near the Parliament building and the White House, it’s easily with walking distance of just about any hotel you’ll be staying. While strolling you’ll see the statue of the park’s namesake, or avail yourself to many of the park’s amenities. There are rides of varying excitement, karaoke to sing along to your favorite songs, ice cream stalls, and shashlyk (kabob) vendors filling the air with their delicious aroma. As for me, the best attraction is the Ferris wheel. For a small fee you can climb aboard and find yourself high above the trees to get a bird’s eye view of the tree-lined avenues of the city and the breathtaking mountains that dominate the horizon. It truly is one of the most beautiful sites that you can have while in Bishkek!

While many people enjoy visiting Kyrgyzstan and all of its beauty, others prefer to link this wonderful country with an Uzbekistan tours or Kazakhstan tours. The choice is yours!

As for the five-pointed star I mentioned earlier, a Kyrgyz politician recently announced that Panfilov Park’s unusual shape which, in his opinion, is the shape of a pentagram which is widely used by Satanists as their symbol. It’s an interesting point of view, but I don’t think the Soviets were thinking in these terms when the park was designed.

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Even after 67 years, the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre in Tashkent still maintains its place as one of the most iconic buildings in Uzbekistan. Built during the Soviet era, the planning, construction, and performances have given locals and foreigners alike many great memories through the years. If you are on an Uzbekistan tours, it’s highly recommended that you visit this beautiful theater. What would be even better is if your timing is right to see a performance!

Located in the center of Tashkent, the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre was first planned in 1930 in response to the lack of cultural venues in the city. Due to the lack of qualified architects in Uzbekistan, a Soviet Union-wide competition was held to determine the best design. Alexey Shchusev’s submission was selected and construction commenced in 1939. However, the project was delayed during World War II (Great Patriotic War) but work continued in 1942 and the building was completed in 1947. Artisans from Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Khorezm, Ferghana, and Termez worked together to design and create the six lateral halls to reflect Uzbekistan’s culture, history, and traditions. Interestingly, Japanese prisoners of war were sent from the captured Kvantun Army to provide labor for the project in November 1945 and worked on it until its completion in 1947.

Since then, the theater has staged thousands of operas, ballets, concerts, and plays. Additionally, it has hosted talented guests from throughout the world. In 2010 the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre underwent reparations, but at the time of this posting it is unknown if the theater has re-opened or if it still holds its performances at the Turkiston Theater. Check with your Five Stans Adventure guide for the latest information.

Personally, I had the fortune to see performances at the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre when I lived there. It’s truly a world-class venue and should be a part of your Uzbekistan tours. No matter which hotel you decide to stay while in Tashkent, you won’t be far away from this wonderful architectural monument!

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Located in the capital, Ashgabat, the National Museum of Turkmenistan is one of the most fascinating and instructional museums in Central Asia. Moreover, this is the place to go if you wish to learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan. While most travelers make it a point to visit while touring Turkmenistan, others include it on their Uzbekistan tours itinerary, too.

Opened on January 5th, 1998, it is named after the 1st president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Turkmenbashy. The museum is separated into 3 sections: the first is reserved for the president of Turkmenistan, the second to natural history, and the third to science. Reportedly one can find 500,000 various artifacts that are specific to Turkmenistan.

The presidential section displays photos of the current leader in various poses: harvesting crops with the people, reading with children, playing a variety of sports, racing in cars and, of course, meeting with world leaders. It’s all fascinating stuff that gives visitors an idea of the strength of the presidential office in Turkmenistan.

The natural history section houses a large number of ancient artifacts, including examples of its flora and fauna, fossils, and rare geological discoveries.

The scientific section perhaps is the most interesting section because it displays a large number of Turkmen carpets and rugs, musical instruments, historical documents, jewelry, medals, weapons, Parthian-era horn-shaped vessels made of ivory and statues of Rodoguna and other goddesses. Additionally, one can find a fascinating and colorful Buddhist vase. Modern paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries are on display, too.

There really are not too many national museums to be found these days that dedicates 1/3 of its space to the president. Just for that fact alone should convince you to spend a couple of hours strolling through the National Museum of Turkmenistan. Be sure to stop there during your tour of Turkmenistan or link it as a part of your Uzbekistan tours. The choice is yours!

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Clearly the most revered and coveted architectural wonder of Central Asia (and the world) is the Shah-I Zinda, a collection of mausoleums in Samarkand. Photogenic beyond words, this site is undoubtedly best experienced in person as opposed to descriptions in a blog – like this one! If you choose any of our Uzbekistan tours, you will certainly pay a visit to the Shah-I Zinda.

While many architectural sites along the Great Silk Road were constructed singularly, the Shah-I Zinda is one of the few that has many gems located in one place. According to legend, Muhammad’s cousin, Qusam b. Abbas, came to Samarkand in the 7th century A.D. to spread the message of Islam, but his efforts were rejected and he was subsequently decapitated. Furthermore following the lead of Khizr, descended into a well where he still resides as the “Living King”. It wasn’t until the Timurid Dynasty in the 14th century that that this legend gained acceptance by the royalty and many people wished to be buried near Abbas. This was when the beautiful mausoleums we see today commenced their construction.

Later, further archaeological studies revealed that the earliest structures of the Shah-I Zinda were built in the 11th century. It wasn’t until after the Mongol invasion in the early 13th century that the city was moved from Afrasiyab Hill (present location of Shan-I Zinda) to its current location. After that, it became the necropolis that we know so well today.

There’s been plenty written about the Shah-I Zinda and it’s easy to find much information about it. However, the most striking aspect of each mausoleum is the stunning and exquisite tiles. Each tile is a work of art that reflects the creativity and respect for beauty that the artisans possessed.

Interestingly, it is still possible for Muslims to be buried at the Shah-I Zinda, although it is quite expensive. If you meet the requirements for burial, ask your guide for more details.

Finally, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated for this portion of your tour. The best times to visit are early in the morning and late in the evening. Talk to your Five Stans Adventure guide to make your arrangements as you make your way on your memorable Uzbekistan tours!

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Central Asia is blessed with a large number of scholars – some famous, others not so famous. While they may not be well-known to those of us educated outside of this region, many of the locals can tell you about them with pride. While you’re on your Uzbekistan tours you will have many opportunities to learn from our erudite guides about Shermuhammad the Mirab Ibn Auzbi Muniz and many others!

For the sake of time, in this blog I’ll call our astute scholar Muniz. He was born in 1778 in Ciat, a village located 8 km from Khiva and was educated at a madrassa there. At the age of 22 he was attracted to public service and began his work as one of the Khan’s mirabs performing various duties, which included the command of a military unit.

It wasn’t long before Muniz’ talent for scholarly work was noticed and in 1804 he started to write “The Garden of Prosperity”, a flashy title for a book about the history of Khorezm as ordered by Khiva’s Khan Eltuzar. Translated into English, this is one of the most important sources of information about this empire. Equally important, Muniz was recognized by history as being the first poet of Khanate of Khiva. His most popular work was “The Friend of Lovers”. His other main contribution was a manual on calligraphy.

Muniz died in 1829 at the age of 51during a cholera epidemic that was sweeping the khanate. Up to the time of his death, he was translating Miranda’s historical tome, “The Garden of Purity”. Nevertheless, his nephew Mohammad-reza Agahi picked up his pen and completed it at a later date.

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Most boxing aficionados can tell you much about the greats of boxing’s past. If they really know the sweet science, they’ll be able to tell you about Rufat Riskiev – The Tashkent Tiger!

Born on October 2nd, 1949 in Tashkent, Rufat honed his skills during the days of the Soviet Union. The list of accolades is long, but the short version of his 30-year career reads as this:

  • Twice champion of the USSR’s People’s Games

  • Four time champion of the Soviet Union

  • Silver Medalist at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal

  • Winner of international tournaments in the USA, Cuba, Austria, Yugoslavia, and Spain

  • Numerous Uzbek awards of achievement

Usually, his fighting weight put him in the 75 kg class, and overall his record in the ring was 174 – 26.

The Tashkent Tiger’s big break came on August 17th, 1974 when he won the prestigious international boxing championship in Havana, Cuba. Following his championship match, Mr. Riskiev had the opportunity to speak with Fidel Castro, who was in awe of his prowess in the ring.

Mr. Riskiev has had the thrill to meet many of boxing’s great performers, but among his highlights is when he met Muhammad Ali in the summer of 1979 in Tashkent, and it was he who sought the company of the Tashkent Tiger! This was a strong indication of the respect that boxers throughout the world had for Mr. Riskiev.

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Today, he resides in his hometown of Tashkent.

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