Central Asia – Uzbekistan’s Ten Hidden Wonders
As a country with rich heritage, it comes as no surprise that the Uzbekistan government is increasing its efforts to share its culture and majestic sights with the rest of the world. As the number of incoming tourists to Uzbekistan consistently increases over the years, let us take a look at ten little known breathtaking places the country has to offer.
Uzbekistan’s capital city has the State Museum of Art which contains Uzbek masterpieces, Soviet art and the Fidoliyar or Communards Garden. Tourists can shop at the Chorsu Bazaar or enjoy the outdoors at Ugam Chatkal National Park or at Beldersay Sport Holiday Village located 5 minutes away.
The former port turned ghost town is a city located 80 km from the Aral Sea shore of which the eastern basin fully dried up in 2014. Experts believe the larger southern portion will disappear by 2020 but seeing shipwrecks on land today makes it difficult to forget that it was once the fourth largest lake in the world.
Containing many historic buildings and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bukhara’s highlights include covered bazaars, Kalyan Mosque (accessible by non-Muslims) and the Bakhauddin Nakshband Complex. It is believed that 3 walking tours from Bukhara to the necropolis is considered a Hajj.
The Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art or Nukus Museum of Art has the world’s 2nd largest collection of Russian avant garde art. Housing over 100,000 artefacts and paintings, these were brought to Nukus to be preserved by renegade artist Igor Savitsky during Soviet times.
An ancient city painstakingly preserved in its original walls since its construction in the 18th century, one can explore the Great Silk Roads by cycling from Khiva to Tashkent here. It also features UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ichan Kala town and two palaces built in the early 19th century by Alla-Kulli-Khan, among others.
Chashma complex is at the foothills of Nuratau Mountains overlooking the Kyzylkum desert in Nurata. It has a holy spring, well, Djuma mosque, bath-house, shrines, remains of ancient fortress ‘Nur’ and an underground water pipe system founded in 327 BC by Alexander the Great.
Here, once can visit the the Ulugh Beg Observatory, Khazret-Khyzr Mosque and Mousoleum of Imam Al-Bukhari who recorded about 600 thousand hadiths (legends) based on true events or dictum of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He is known to be buried in Khartang village which is 30 km from Samarkand.
An ancient city at the crossroads of two main ancient trade routes in Fergana Valley, it was capital of the richest Kokand Khanate. The last, Khudayar Khan was notorious for cruelty yet beautified it with buildings until the end of the Khanate’s nearly 170-year rule, upon which he built Palace of Khudayar Khan in 1871.
The Gissar range of Tian Shan mountain in Surkhandarya province, which capital is Termez. Tourists can enjoy spelunking or climb ice waterfalls at Gissar where the highest peak in Uzbekistan, Khazret Sultan is also located. In the area also lies archaeological site, Teshik Tash cave and deepest cave in Asia, Boi-Bulok cave.
An important stop on the Silk Road and largest city in Ferghana Valley exporting Margilan silk along ancient trade routes, it still has the largest traditional silk factory, Yodgorlik Silk Factory producing silk, including the famous khan-atlas or ‘king of satins’. Founded in 1972, it was privatised in 2000 and named “Yodgorlik”.