Archive for June, 2014

Uzbekistan: History

Posted: June 27, 2014 by randommuzings in Uzbekistan
Tags: ,

I have a habit of researching the history of every place I travel to before travelling there. For those of you who have a similar habit, I have captured my research from various sources as below:

20th century B.C. Iranian nomads established irrigation systems along the rivers of Central Asia and built towns at Bukhara, Durham and Samarkand- collectively called Sogdiana

6th century B. C: Achaemenid Empire:It was conquered by the Persians and remained a satrapy of the Persian Empire until the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.

3rd cent BC: Greek Empire: Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain and occupied Sogdiana and combined it with Bactria under 1 satrapy. After Alexander’s death in 323 BCE, his general Seleucus established Seleucid Empire in Persia, Sogdiana and Bactria until 255 BCE.

2nd Cent BC: Silk Road established that passed through Sogdiana

125 BC: Scythians Empire

1st to 3rd centuries AD Kushans or Yuezhi Empire. Under the Kushan emperors, Buddhist beliefs mingled with the earlier Zoroastrian and Hellenistic religions.

8th century A.D: Conquered by Arabs and Islam replaced Buddhism.

10th century: Ismail Samani founded  Samanid dynasty with capital at Bukhara. Important architecture: Mausoleum of lsmail Samani and K-alon minaret at Bukhara.

11th and 12th Centuries: dynasties of Gaznevids, KaraKhanids, and Seldjuks

13th cent: Genghis Khan and his Mongols plundered the territory in 1220-1221 and occupied it.

14th cent: Timurid dynasty: In 1300s Amir Timur built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Registan and the Gur-i Amir, the mausoleum that he designed and where he’s been buried, are fine examples of Islamic art that draw from both Persian and Turkish influences. Amir Timur conquered Iran, the Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Northern India.

16th Cent: Shibanid dynasty: Shaibani Khan, in the early 1500s, led a major invasion by tribes from the north and founded the dynasty driving out Babur, the great grandson of Timur. Babur sought greener pastures, first in Kabul and then in northern India, and founded the Moghul (Mughal) dynasty ruling in Delhi. Shaibani Khan became Khan Uzbek (Uzbek=”master” or “lord” of oneself”) and the term Uzbekistan was coined.

17th Cent: Between 1600 and 1753 the Ashtarkhanids, descendants of Genghis Khan and Shiban Khan, ruled Bukhara.

18th Cent: Khanates: By the mid-1700s, the dominant Uzbek tribes set up three major khanates in the region:

  1. Emirate of Bukhara, which was ruled by the Manghits between 1753 and 1920;
  2. Khanate of Khiva, which was ruled by the Qunurats between 1717 and 1920; and
  3. Khanate of Kokand, which was ruled by Qoqan between 1710 and 1876.

19th Century: In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. Tashkent became the administrative center of Turkestan, and a colonial relationship was established. Cotton began to supplant other crops. Dissatisfaction with Russian rule manifested itself in anti-czarist revolts, often led by religious figures, while a group of urban intellectual reformers, known as jadids, sought to improve the life of the local people through secular education.

In 1916, after the Russian Revolution, Bolsheviks seized power.

In November 1917, indigenous leaders convened an extraordinary congress in the city of Kokand, at which they proclaimed the autonomy of southern Central Asia. But in February 1918, Bolshevik troops sent from Tashkent brutally crushed the fledgling Kokand government. Over the next few years a guerrilla opposition movement of basmachi fighters struggled against the Bolsheviks but was ultimately defeated. Also the traditional rulers of Bukhara and Khiva were removed and new states under strong Bolshevik influence were established there.
In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was made part of it. Uzbekistan was the third largest Soviet republic by population and the fourth largest in territory. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for cotton growing and the extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume.
1928: First Five-Year Plan (FYP) was launched. By 1932 about three-fourths of the republic’s farm households had been gathered into collective farms. Cotton farming was greatly expanded at the expense of other crops, particularly food.

Islam Karimov was elected President of Uzbekistan at the 1st Session of the Supreme Council of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1990.

Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Four months later, on December 29, 1991, Karimov was elected President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and has been re-elected President in 2000 and 2007.

Andijan Massacre: On May 12, 2005, about 10,000 people gathered for a peaceful and orderly protest in the city of Andijan.  Troops opened fire on crowd and opposition members say that about 745 people were either confirmed killed or went missing after the massacre.

Uzbekistan: Itinerary & Some FAQs

Posted: June 13, 2014 by randommuzings in Uzbekistan
Tags: , , , ,

Usually it is the people that make you fall in love with a place/ country and that is so true of Uzbekistan! Thus would love to return to the country but for those of you planning to make this trip. Some snapshots from my trip.

My Itinerary:

uzDay 1: Arrive at Tashkent

Day 2: Tashkent

Day 3: Chimgan Mountains and later to Charvak Lake (travel by private bus. Stay at Tashkent)

Day 4: Samarkand (travel by bullet train)

Day 5: Shahrisabz (by bus)

Day 6: Bukhara (by bus)

Day 7: Drive from Bukhara to Khiva- 8 hours (by bus)

Day 8: Khiva

Day 9: Tashkent (flight from Khiva)

Day 10: Return flight to New Delhi


Some FAQs that might be useful:

  1. Travel Season: April to May and then Sep to Nov. The temperatures here can vary from 55 to -25 deg C so you can only travel during the above months. This time I had traveled in May but the sun was too strong for outdoors so next time I would perhaps travel in Oct.
  2. Currency: USD and Euro are the most acceptable currencies and most places accept payment in USD/ Euro but no credit card. Pound or Yen is not readily acceptable, though I met two people who accepted INR as they were due to visit India soon. You can get the currency converted at many places in the market but ask around as various rates are available and be careful of police who is always on the prowl.
  3. Safety: It is perhaps one of the safest places I have visited where one can see children playing on the streets till 11. The only challenge is you are chased by everyone in all cities including Tashkent for clicking photographs with you. Initially you might enjoy the attention but later seriously it gets on your nerves as they usually don’t take no for an answer and will keep following you till they have clicked pictures with you. But mostly they mean no harm.
  4. Language: Most of the people speak Uzbek or Tajik and hence English is a problem. The language fortunately is closer to Hindi and people are so helpful that one can get around by sign language. People will make so much effort to understand you and be understood and they are so crestfallen when you say that sorry you can’t understand a thing they have said.
  5. Clothes: Although it is a Muslim country, I believe thanks to the Russian rule their clothes are very modern. I saw barely a few women wear a burqa, many from the countryside were wearing head scarfs but most women in the cities were dressed in skirts and dresses. I even witnessed 3 weddings wherein the bride and groom (though Islamic) were wearing the catholic white wedding gown and black suit respectively. Thus I was advised to wear clothes below knee level but I felt the advice unnecessary. You can easily wear anything.
  6. Public Transport: Though the country is poor, the infrastructure is brilliant and very well maintained. People there really love cleaning their cities etc all day. I used their trains and buses and loved them. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to use the metro at Tashkent as everything in Tashkent was so walkable but even that is supposed to be one of the best.
  7. Shopping: Handicrafts and dry fruits are really cheap and very good in quality. Most of the clothes and artificial jewelry are from India and China.