TRAVEL TO TASHKENT (UZBEKISTAN)
From Delhi Air time of 2.5 hrs.
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan.
Samarkand & Bukhara – the other attractions.
From Tashkent it is 2.5 hrs journey to Samarkand by Bullet train & 4 hrs. by taxi.
Bukhara is a 4 hrs. Journey through rail-route & 6 hrs. by road from Tashkent.
Major attractions in Tashkent is it’s night life with Dances & Programs, local sight-seeing, trip to Chimgan Mountain and many more.
Le Grand Plaza, Ramada Hotel, Uzbekistan Hotel, Shodlik Palace and many more is one of the most luxurious stays in the world.
Approximate price (Going by Group) from Delhi – Around Rs.40,000 per person for 4 nights 5 days stay including Airfare, Visa Charges, stay in above mentioned hotel, sight seeing in AC Bus & major meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner).
For Samarkand trip extra 100$ is charged per person. Samarkand & Bukhara extra 170$ is charged per person.
Fortunately I could manage a window seat in the air-craft which eventually gave me the dividend which I was waiting for . Glancing on the front - monitor I was quite overwhelmed to find the air-route through which I am travelling to Tashkent - The capital of Uzbekistan . From Delhi it is a mere fifteen minutes now and I could see Amritsar , Islamabad , Peshawar , Kabul , Kandahar , Samarkand and finally the destination Tashkent . Each place have their own recognition and few have a spine-chilling-danger alert when I was reading the names of those places .
Aha ! really I will fly over Amritsar - Peshawar - ISLAMABAD ! The last name quite naturally brought a bit of mixed emotions which is inevitable for almost every Indian , I presume . While flying over the city it was quite similar like flying over any cities of the world . From 39000 ft. up-air I could only see the heavenly blue sky and floppy while cloud.
The food and the hospitality of the Uzbek Air-stuffs were quite impressive especially the features of the Hostesses were very charming too. The Air-time is about 2 and a half hours and when I completed the food packet I could clearly see through my window the silent beauty of Himalayas ! Oh what a sight ! Photography is strictly prohibited here and it should be as because few frames should only be kept in one's heart ! From 40000 ft. looking down the most prestigious and undefeated mountains of the world - The great Himalayas - The Stalwart , The Savior , The Old Saint standing as only 'HE' can stand like this !
Tashkent International Airport is a small one - very much similar to our own Dumdum / (Now Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose) Airport few years back. As it came in my mind I was really stunned by a shocking fact ! Our greatest Hero Subhash Bose had absconded from Calcutta and finally went on to meet Hitler via Moscow and HE HAD TRAVELLED through the same route ! Yes he had travelled a distance of around 5000+ kms where he touched Peshawar , Pathankot , Kabul and stayed in Tashkent too !
A very young and energetic young man - who introduced himself as ' Kamal Hussan ' was waiting for the entire group . He is supposed to be our guide - and it was quite obvious why he selected such a famous Indian name.
Tashkent of the capital of Uzbekistan - Got a separate entity as a independent country in 1991 after the 'Gigantic ' Soviet Union were broken into pieces . India played a subtle political role during there so called - independence hence the common ' Uzbek ' people possess a bit of inclination towards Indians .
It is not a city of thickly populated metro or sub-metro of our country - but compact neat and clean and a very disciplined kind of city . Language is a very big problem here as the common habitat of Tashkent do not know English much and very unlike us they are not quite bothered about the fact .They speak Russian , Uzbek , Farsi , little Arabic & little Hindi etc. It is a Muslim country, but with a very 'happy-go-like ' lifestyle . During my stay in Tashkent and other cities and Suburbs I have nor heard a single voice of 'Azaan' coming out of any Mosques as such !
It might be my own observation - but I found the country very much ' liberal ' and ' simple ' as Far as the religion is concerned and it should be in every country round the world !
A big bus was waiting for us outside Airport - after a little exchange of introduction with our guide - kamal started the journey into the city . After 15 - 20 minutes we were brought to a place , called ' Independence Square or Amir Taimur Square ' . It is like the same of our own ' India gate ' in Delhi . With parks and fountains , greenery all over . People chatting , laughing - we found the place quite nice .
While traveling through the streets of Tashkent we noticed quite a bit of new things as well . All cars of the city is left-hand drive , means the staring of the vehicle is on the left corner . The traffic of the city is totally reverse of our country that means all the cars moves from left to right direction in a two-way road ! more elaborately speaking when one crosses road in India or this part of the world then he watch first on his right side while crossing the road as because our traffic follows ' right to left ' rule but while crossing roads in Tashkent you have to look at your ' left ' hand side first and vice-versa !
Quite amazingly I noticed another thing in the city . Almost everywhere if any one comes straight in front of your car immediately the vehicle stops and let the man or woman cross the road in a relaxed manner !
After the checking in I introduced myself to the guide and told him about my plans . I was here in an invitation where few of my Uzbek friends will join me and I will travel with them - and not with this Indian group .
Kamal was little surprised when he heard that I am a writer and more surprised when he came to know about my plans how can I miss the nightlife of Tashkent with dance programs by local girls.
" Oh Mister - you will definitely miss the charming Uzbek girls - all the dance - shows - and then after you can also you know ........!"
I could read between the lines but quite humbly refused it. ‘Anyway - it's your choice - All the best - I have never met a writer before ........ nice to meet you ! Since I was quite tired - I slept in my room keeping me out of the Night - extravaganza including the cocktail and dinner etc.
Next day I found Mrs. Razikova waiting for me in the Reception . I knew her as we met earlier and I felt quite happy to see her again and obviously to travel with her to the historic city of Samarkand .
Uzbek girls are the most beautiful beings of the world (which I have travelled at least). They are kind of Russi - Irani mix with stout features , tall , well maintained figures and quite beautiful face ! Their eyes , lips , reddish checks and very pleasing personalities can give anyone a feast for his eyes !
Another amazing fact of this country is the freedom , liberty and security they have given to their women ! I have seen in Tashkent at around 1, 2 in the night women are moving freely - without any kind of fear . I have tried to convince myself once again ' Oh - our population ......!!! bla - bla - bla ,but failed miserably. Respect towards women comes from the education which one has imbibed within him and obviously this kind of ' Chivalrous ' attitude speaks well of the country as a whole .
In ancient time during the Vedic Era the womanhood was respected and regarded like anything in our country but now it has lost all its name and fame !
Samarkhand is around 250 km from Tashkent and roughly a 4 hours drive. We left Tashkent quite early so that we can come back early. I sit just beside the driver one Mr. Zafar and the lady took her seat in the back. This is the normal practise in Uzbekistan. If you are a male and travelling alone with a locale lady you should always be at the front side of the car along with the chauffeur. Razikova was looking quite stunning and I was truly a bit annoyed with the seating arrangement. Never the less the journey began - and within 15 - 20 minutes we were into the Highway.
They were talking amongst in local language and I was listening some Indian music which I've brought with me - playing in the car stereo. The lady and the man sometimes pointing towards something which they feel to show me. While going through the Highway which is quite similar to any other Highways in the world. I could see the rural Uzbekistan through my car window. Lush green fields and landscape as if put fresh in front of Eyes. I was gathering informations from them and came to know that rural part of Uzbekistan is really a paradox from the Urban part quite similar to our country. I am here not only to enquire about the history but also to know the common people, their lifestyle, their culture, their food and coverings and the ‘current time’ - whatever I can gather during my 'Short' stays here.
The Suburbs of Uzbekistan is quite poverty stroked areas . This is because of the lack of Industrialization which I could make out while going through the Highway . Distance after distance - I could rarely see a factory or a plant or a shed.
Reaching at Samarkand - I was recharged ! Soon after I became a obedient student of History and voraciously swallowing almost every bit of the Historical City ! Listening to the enormous stories and facts in the 'Registan ' - the museum campus they call it . We visited famous Al. bukhari - museum , Bibi - Khanyam Mosque and finally the ' Baber' Museum , Baber - the great Baber , the most preferred Grandchild of Amir Taimur - or the Taimurlong who almost single handedly conquered the major part of the world - starting from Mongolia China the entire Rassia and quite a substantial part of Europe too ! He ruled for prolonged years based at ‘Samarkand’ region and when felt that his most loved grandchild's (Baber) life is in danger - he can be killed at any point of time he asked him to move towards the other side of Himalayas . - i.e. Hindustan or Industan .
There are controversies regarding the fact whether Baber had really ' invaded ' India or just shifted to India . I do not want to get this dilemma - to me the most astonishing fact was that - around 500 years back a 16 years old 'Baber ' travelled about 3000 kms with his horses , camels and soldiers ! More surprisingly how the man surpassed the undefeated stubborn Himalayas !
I was paying respect to Netaji in Tashkent - now I salute another great hero for all time - ' Baber ' - the founder of ' Moghul Empire ' in India . Baber , came to India in a time when our country truly required him and his leadership - This is because of the fact that - there were lots of turmoils going within our country , the feeling of to togetherness was not there and as if the time was also looking for a great leader who can put everything together.
"Meri Awaaz hi pehchan hai" - I was murmuring the song while standing over the stone-made stair case and looking down to the vast area of the Museum - campus ! Whenever I visit some historical places and museums or palaces inevitably I start thinking of a rather foolish things ! I think as if I have seen these places before ! Standing on the ' Registan ' campus - immediately I thought " oh God I have been here before - These open ' Angaans ' (stone-made space) . Those beautiful tombs - These beautiful places of the world - is very much known to me ! " I've played here , sang and danced here ...... and so on . Then I laughed on myself a bit ! My companion was looking at me and telling me " Anything wrong ? " I nodded my head and followed them .
" Nothing will last ........nothing will stay .
Only thing remains
I song for you on the way !"
The number of tourist here are very less - in comparison to other monuments or Museum of the world. Asking the lady, she replied this is not the ' right ' time for the tourists to visit here. Sometimes there is so much rush that the local administration finds it very difficult to succumb the over mobbed situation.
We first see the Al-bukhari Museum where there are graves of the great poet . It reminds me the same which I have seen in the Taj Mahal , itself . Entering into the museum I thought I have entered into the G.P.O. Building of my own city Kolkata . Structures are more or less same . We were standing at the middle the circular tomb goes tappering towards up - giving rather a feeling of Birla Planetarium or a G.P.O. I'm not going into the details of the intricate stone-work or the embroideries in the walls or the mosaic floors of the building but one salient feature which I noticed is there is quite a remarkable resemblance between the architectural work of these places and few places of our own country . Then it clicked in my mind ' A ha - the originator of the great Moghal Dynasty belonged to Samarkhand !' Babar - the Great Babar - were all over in Museum Buildings here . Both the lady and the man started telling me a number of stories of Babar or the ' Babre ' what the call him in local language .
I asked them to keep quite as I was extracting the ' Silence ' of this huge Museum. They were a bit surprised I presume. But I was helpless. In any place where I visit - instead of the history or the stories of the place I want to touch the depth of the land with my own instrinets. I see , I smell , I hear - I try to feel the every ' bit ' of it with my soul , in my own way of relating with the land. "History or the stories can be found in the books my dear ! " I replied them with smile - but it seems they were not convinced as the tourists want to know more and more about the place - and they found me rather opposite .
I noticed the colour of the stones used to built the structures . Navi blue , yellocre and greyish white. Basically these three colours were prevalent and the tombs are quite tall as well. Though my guides were telling me that plenty of tourists visit these places - I had rather a different opinion about it that they I could feel these wonderful Heritages - are rather ignored or neglected in comparison to other historical places . Gradually I was dipping into the ' time ' when ' life ' was not like this . I was thrilled by the fact that where now we are sitting may be one time the Great Emperor has stalled for a moment .
He had also looked upon the blue firmament as now we are looking at it .
Stomach rebelled too much - all off a sudden - as it always does . Aha - where should I rest you ?? Asking them I came to know that this is an unanimous Hunger call ! We went to a small but a very cosy restaurant . People were looking at me quite strangely - I presume for my colour of skin ! A dark colour man with black hair and black eye-ball is a bit ' misfit ' in this part of the world ! and believe me I found nobody in that particular day - alike me in Samarkhand .
After ages I took ' beef ' kabab there and the ' sashlik kebob ' were sumptuous with fluffy and quite a big piece of 'Nun'. Inside resistant we could see a large market where ' Nuns ' of different shape, size and colour were selling. I came to know from them it is quite cheap here and Zafar took few killos of it with him in his car carrier. I took a beer as well in the pub. Within the open space of the pub few peacocks and few birds were roaming and looking at us quite subtly - but not giving our presence too much of recognition though !
“You know Mr. Shamik - your ' chapati ' is invented here first ! " Razikora looked at me and say with a very mysterious smile . " What ? " you mean the same chapati - I mean the roti we eat ? " I was quite surprised . " Yes Sir - It is mentioned in the famous book of Al-Birunni - who wrote ‘Babarnama’ - and travelled with Babar to your country ! "
" Oh my God ! " " Not only chapati - most of the so called Mughlai dishes were invented here first and then moved to your country - like kebobs , aromated rice (Biriyani ) , preparation of meats , sweets like Halwa , Murrabba etc. etc. ! " She said while sipping her cup of tea .
I came to know from her how rich is their culture . Apart from famous philosopher , poet , writer , traveller Al-birunni - there were poets and writers to the calibre of Umar Khayam , Alishen Hawai , Oibagg , Zafar Ghulam , Samiza Huhhim Zuda , Madam Zulphica etc etc . - They are few all time stalwarts of Rich Uzbeki literature . Few of older times and few contemporaries . Al-bukhari the great poet whose museum we visited first translated Quran from Arabic to Pharsi . It is good to see that the people of the country pays so much respect to a writer and poet - even now !
" Well , how many language you know Madam ? " I asked Razikora.
Again that sparkling smile .
" Please tell me ? " Once again I asked her .
" Not much - Pharsi , Uzbek , Russi , Irani , Arabic ..... little little English , very little Hindi .... and .... ! "
"Stop , stop - Ok , oh .... so many languages you know ? "
" What language you speak Mister ? "
" Me from a land called Bangla - my own motherland ! "
I replied .
" Oh you teach me something in Bangla too ! "
" Oh certainly ! "
The darkness gradually enveloping the glow of a bright day and we are heading towards our car. Thoroughly I liked the place and felt really harsh about the inadequate time I had for Samarkhand Prettier time seems shorter than what it is . I have came in a group visa - hence the city of Samarkhand will not allow me to spent the night. In the car deck playing a very popular song of famous singer, Shabnami Suroyo. She is basically a Kazakisthani and her voice is very similar to our own Sunidhi Chauhan .
Zafar and Razikora dropped me at my Hotel late in the night . Next day morning they will come again and take me to show some other places too . My days are very short here in Uzbekistan ! I thought while coming out of the car .
I was just strolling back towards my hotel when I hear a voice " Mr. Shamik , one minute ! "
She came closer to me , with her black jackets on her shoulder , she was looking like an angel. She gave me a strange look and said " Before I say Shabba Khair to you , teach me something in your language .... what you call .....! "
" Bangla "
I looked at her and said instantly " Ami Tomake Bhalobashi ! "
" Ami ...Tom...a..ake ....Bhalobhashi ....what's this ?"
" Oh , I will tell you sometime - Good night Madam ! " I started moving.
I did not look back. Heard the buzzing sound of the car. Some thoughts cannot be translated, cannot be communicated, cannot be conveyed ......but only be felt deep inside . Gently through the revolving entrance of my Hotel I stepped forward towards the corridor.
Shamik Goswami is an eminent writer & poet who stays in Kolkata. He is also the editor of Bahoman. In forthcoming portal issues of Bahoman he is going to write a special editorial column. “Cry of the Soul” – Where he is going to portray many lost treasures of his part of the world to the rest of world. He travels a lot around the world. In this particular segment one can find quite an amazing travelogue to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) with Shamik’s easy style of telling story & glimpses of some wonderful experiences.