Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, it is filled with beautiful mosques and lots of history. It is also where the Ulugh Beg Observatory is located and where the tomb of the great Tamerlane is (he was also Ulugh Beg’s grandfather). Tamerlane had also started the Timurid Empire. Samarkand is a city you must visit if you ever find yourself in Uzbekistan.
Last summer when I visited Uzbekistan, we spent a day in Samarkand. One thing you shouldn’t do: visit Uzbekistan in July, the heat can go up to 45 degrees Celsius (and it’s not rare for it to beat that number). We went to Samarkand on the 4th of July, 2015. We had ordered a car in the morning, about seven a.m., and the car ride was about three hours. I wouldn’t have survived without the AC. The driver first took us to the Imam Bukhari Masoleum, it was incredibly interesting there, you simply find yourself staring at awe and wonder at how they make these buildings. The designs and structure are very advanced and are incredibly colorful. We saw where he lay (underground of course), and we heard about the myth of the place.
It has been said that the put up fences around it because people had seen lights coming out of the dirt, and so people had picked the dirt and took the dirt with them. For my luck, I didn’t see any light, which was a relief (I would’ve freaked out).
Then we decided to eat the national plov (rice). In Uzbekistan, plov is made different in every region; there’s the Tashkent plov, Samarkand plov, Bukhara plov and so much more, all based around the same food but made with a little touch of originality. This was the first time I was trying the Samarkand plov, and I loved it from the first mouthful. The meat was soft and tasteful, the rice with the perfect amount of oil and the carrots well cooked. The meal was what we needed to help us get going with the day.
After our quick meal, we visited Shahi Zinda, it is almost like a tiny town surrounded by mausoleums. As you walk, you notice the different kinds of mausoleums, there are narrow ones, wide ones, long and short, you start see the diversity of the designs and doors. People also count the steps to the Shahi Zinda, some say you never get the same number on your way up and your way down. I did the same, sadly, I don’t remember what number I counted to and if it was the same.
Registan, probably the biggest tourist attraction in Samarkand. Registan has three big mausoleums all facing each other. Registan is truly beautiful and the size of the mausoleums are breathtaking. The only problem with the visit, and the whole day, was the weather, it was so hot! I was positive I had lost some weight of all the exercise and sweat pouring out of me.
We also got to visit the Gur-e-Amir, which is a mausoleum dedicated to Tamerlane. Inside, it was surprisingly cool and we sat there listening to his life story being told by a few other visitors and losing track of time. I didn’t take any pictures, I thought it disrespectful. Tamerlane’s tomb was black and it was in the center, surrounding his were his sons; Miran Shakh and Shakh Rukh and grandsons; Ulugh Beg and Muhammad Sultan. His spiritual teacher’s tomb was also there. Ulugh Beg, apart from being a sultan, was also an astronomer and mathematician, and he had his own observatory.
And this is it! We had gotten to do so much in just a day (and the 37 degree heat). This city is definitely one I am visiting again, and probably more than once. Learning so much about the history and culture got me wanting more and more and more! Have you ever been to Samarkand? Are you planning to go in the near future? Have you ever been to Uzbekistan?