The Aral Sea tour 11 days in Uzbekistan
HOME – TASHKENT (flight + 10 km)
Departure from home with TURKISH AIRLINES via Istanbul or AEROFLOT via Moscow and overnight on board. Early morning arrival in Tashkent. Meet guide of your group, transfer to hotel (10 km) and overnight.
Breakfast. Transfer to the north-east part of Tashkent, that’s ancient part called as ‘old city’. It looks like a maze of narrow dusty streets overlooked by low houses from brick and mud. Excursion in the city visiting: ‘Khasti-Imom’ complex: madrassa, mosque, mausoleum & museum of the Holy Koran. Mausoleum of Kaffol Shoshiy (903-976), he was very famous and holy scientist in Tashkent in his time. He named ‘Khasti Imom’ by people. Madrassa of Barakkhan (XVI cen.), was one of the most popular Koranik school, today is center of craftmen. Museum of Moyi Mubarek is very interesting sacred place, where Holy Koran – Osman’s Koran (VII cen.) & ancient manuscripts (XIII-XX cen.) are kept. Mosque Tilla Sheikh (1890 y.) is functioning mosque, where Muslims pray five times a day. Friday Mosque of Khazrati Imom (was built in XIX century & named as Namozgokh Friday Mosque) is biggest mosque, which is rebuilt in 2007.. Transfer to Bazar Chorsu, visit market of local people, it exists since ancient times and considered as the most beautiful market in Tashkent and is full of people every day. Excursion in Friday Mosque Khodja Akhror Vali (XV cen.), which was built in 1451, centuries ago was very famous; beginning of the XX century mosque was closed. Madrassa Kukaldosh (XVI cen.) was built in 1561. It is operational Madrassa in Tashkent only for boys (not girls) as Muslims high school & 400 students are taught there. Transfer to Museum of Applied Arts, which was built (the end of the XIX century) by Russian ambassador Plovsev, who used it as his residence. It exists as museum since 1937. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight in the hotel.
TASHKENT – NUKUS – MOYNAQ – NUKUS (excursion + 220 km)
Breakfast. Transfer to airport & departure for Nukus with local flight HY-1001 (07:50 – 09:55). Arrival in Nukus and drive to former fishermen’s town Muynak (210 km), which used to be situated on the shores of Aral Sea. Local History Museum with art exhibits of the Aral Sea history. This Museum, modest by metropolitan standards, with less than two hundred exhibits, tells the visitors a tragic story of the bygone era, when things were humming in this region and the Aral Sea was so large and affluent that it was called as sea. In the afternoon return to Nukus. Dinner & overnight in the hotel.
NUKUS – AYAZKALA – KHIVA (flight + 420 km total + excursion)
Breakfast. Savitsky Karakalpakstan Art Museum (1966) – hosts the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art and exposition of Karakalpak applied arts items. The Savitsky Museum’s collection possesses over 90,000 exhibits, including a collection of Russian avant-garde artists, the art of ancient Khorezm, complemented by excellent copies of some exhibits of Louvre in Paris. British newspaper The Guardian called the museum “one of the outstanding museums in the world.” Al Gore and President Jacques Chirac called this museum: “One of the best museums in the world”. Transfer to Khiva (220 km), On the way visit archaeological monuments of Ancient Khorezm: Toprak-Kala (III century) – the capital of Khorezm dating back to the 3rd century A.D. the fortress was used as the residence of khorezmshakhs – governors of the country- up to 305 A.D. It is the unique completely dug out monument of architecture of Khoresm. Ayaz-Kala (VI-VII centuries) fortress can be called as miracle of light and wind, located 20 kilometers north-east of Toprak- Kala in the moving sands of the Kyzyl-Kum and ridges of the sacred mountains of Sultan Uwais. Arrive in Khiva, check in to the hotel. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight at the hotel.
***Savitsky Museum is closed on Mondays; Nukus tours are not held on Mondays in this regard.
After breakfast in the hotel we start full day city tour of Khiva – one of the most fascinating cities in the region. A traditional story attributes the name to one of the sons of Noah: “It is said that Shem, after the flood, he found himself wandering in the desert alone. Ichan-Kala an internal town of Khiva City even today. There are 4 gates and walls with length 2500 meters. Madrassa Mukhammad Amin Khan (XIX century) was the biggest madrassah, there were 125 rooms for 250 students. Minaret – Kalta Minor (XIX cen.) is very interesting historical monument, it had to be highest, but the owner of minaret died when it was 28 meters. Konya Ark was the residence of governors between XVII and XIX century. Madrassah Mukhammad Rakhim Khan II was built in 1871, was closed in the beginning of the XX century. The Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud (XIX cen.), is the most sacred mausoleum of Khiva. He was poet and sufi (1247-1325), on his tomb the mausoleum with dome (XIV century) was built, but later destroyed. Madrassah Shergazi Khan (XVIII cen.) was very famous in the XIX century, was named as ‘home of scientists’. One of the great poets of his century – Turkmen Makhtumkulistudied here. Madrassah, Minaret & First Russian School were built by Islam Khodja (was Prime Minister) in 1910, when he was Prime Minister of Khiva. From that time till today Islam Khodja’s Minaret is the highest minaret of Uzbekistan (57 meters). Nowadays his Madrassah is Museum of Applied Arts & his RussianSchool is museum of old photos. The large Friday Mosque is famous for its 218 wooden columns supporting its roof – a concept thought to be derived from ancient Arabian mosques. There are also museum of music, museum of nature, museum of art & center of silk – it is sponsored by the consulate of the United Kingdom(is located in Tashkent). All museums & centers are located in the Madrassah of nineteenth century. Close the door of the citadel there are white mosque and turkish bath, which were built by Anush Khan in the XVII century. Our visit in Khiva ends with complex of ‘Tash Hovli’ (Stone Home) built by the end of the XIX century. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
KHIVA – BUKHARA (480 km)
Breakfast. Transfer to Bukhara (480 km). Our route goes crossing the Amu-Darya River and the Red Desert (Kyzilkum). In Uzbekistan there are two great rivers: the Amu-Darya (in classical Greek known as the Oxus) and the Syr-Darya (known as Jaxartes or Yaxartes by the Greeks). Amu Darya flows through Turkmenistan from south to north, passing Turkmenabad and marking the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan from Khalkabad. The Kyzylkum Desert, it is the 16th largest desert in the world. Its name means Red Sand in Turkish languages. It is located in Central Asia, in the territory between two rivers. Today it is divided between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and (partly) Turkmenistan. It covers about 298,000 km2. Bukhara – is the city, which is important for country’s economy with its mineral deposits, particularly gold, uranium, aluminum, copper, silver, oil and natural gas. The history of Bukhara stretches back for millennia. The origin of its inhabitants goes back to the period of Aryan immigration into the region. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. During the golden age of the Samanids in the 9th and 10th centuries, Bukhara became the intellectual center of the Islamic world and therefore, at that time, of the world itself. UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bukhara, which contains numerous mosques and madrassahs, as one of the World Heritage Sites. Arrival in Bukhara and hotel accommodation. Free time. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
Breakfast. Excursion in the historic center of Bukhara – functioned as one of the main centers of Persian civilization since its early days in the VI century BC – Turkish speakers gradually moved in from the VI century AD. The city’s architectural and archaeological sites form one of the pillars of Central Asian history and art. The region of Bukhara long formed a part of the Persian Empire. The mausoleum of Samanids is located in the historical urban nucleus of the city of Bukhara. This mausoleum was built in the IX (X) century (between 892 and 943) as the resting-place of Ismail Samani – a Samanid dinasty, one of the Persian dynasties that ruled in Central Asia, who held the city in the IX and X centuries. Mausoleum of Chashma-i Ayub is located near the Samani Mausoleum. The Mosque of Bolo Khauz is situated opposite to The Ark, where the emirs worshiped. It was built in 1718 with a roof extension supported by karagachipillars in the XIX century. The Ark of Bukhara is a massive fortress located in the city of Bukhara, that was initially built and occupied around the V century AC. The square of Poi Kalyan is an Islamic religious complex located around the Grand Minaret. The Grand Mosque (Masjid-i Kalon) was completed in 1514.The roof of the galleries encircling the mosque’s inner courtyard has 288 domes resting on 208 pillars. The Madrassah of Mir-i-Arab is devoted to Sheikh Abdullah Yamani of Yemen. Taqi Sarrafon – bazar of the moneychangers, Taqi-Telpak Furushon – bazar of the cap makers, Taqi-Zaragon – bazar of the jewelers. Ulugbek’s Madrassa is one of Central Asia’s architectural highlights, built by Ulugbek in 1417, sober and strictly proportioned. Abdulaziz Khan’s Madrassah is located opposite Ulugbek’s Madrassah. The Lab-i Hauz Ensemble in the city of Bukhara. The Lab-i Hauz survived because it is the centerpiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble, created during the XVI and XVII centuries, which has not been significantly changed since then. It surrounding the pond on three sides, consists of the Kukeldash Madrassa (1568–1569), the largest in the city, and of two religious edifices built by Nadir Divan-Beghi: khanaka (1620) or lodging-house for itinerant Sufis and madrassah (1622) that stand on the west and east sides of the pond respectively. There is also an interesting metal sculpture of Khodja Nasriddin. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
BUKHARA – SHAKHRISABZ – SAMARCANDA (270 km + excursion + 140 km)
Breakfast, transfer to Shakhrisabz (270 km). It means city of green or verdant city. It was a major city of Central Asia, it is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th-century Turk-Mongol conqueror Timur. Shahrisabz was the birthplace of Timur on April 9, 1336, who was born in the family of a minor local chief, and during the early years of the Timurids’ Dinasty, enjoyed its considerable patronage. Timur regarded Shahrisabz as his “home town” and planned it eventually to be the location of his tomb. Several remaining impressive monuments from the Timurids’ Dinasty have enabled the old part of the city to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Excursion in The Palace Ak-Saray, which was Timur’s Summer Palace (“White Palace”). It was planned as the most grandiose of all Timur’s constructions. It was started in 1380 by artisans deported by Timur from the recently conquered Khwarezm. Unfortunately, only traces of its gigantic 65 m gate-towers are survived with blue, white and gold mosaics. Above the entry of the Ak-Saray there are big letters saying: “If you challenge our power – look at our buildings!” The Mosque of Kok Gumbaz / Dorut Tilovat Complex. The Friday Mosque was built in 1437 by Ulugbek in honor of his father Shahrukh, its name means “Blue Dome”. Located immediately behind the Mosque is the so-called “House of Meditation”, a mausoleum built by Ulugbek in 1438, but apparently never used for burials. Hazrat-i Imam Complex. On the Eastern part of the Mosque located another complex called Dorus-Saodat (Seat of Power and Might), which contains the Tomb of Jehangir, Timur’s eldest and favorite son. The adjacent mosque is said to house the tomb of a revered VIII century imam Amir Kulal. Behind the Hazrat-i Imam Ensemble is situated tomb of Timur. It is a bunker with a door leading to an underground chamber, discovered by archaeologists in 1943. The room is nearly filled with a single stone casket, on which inscriptions indicate that it was intended for Timur. However, the conqueror was buried in Samarkand, not in Shahrisabz. Transfer to Samarkand (140 km). Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
Breakfast. Excursion to the heart of Uzbekistan – Samarkand. In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures. The Mausoleum of Gur Amir is Persian for “Tomb of the King”. This architectural complex with its azure dome contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shakhrukh, Miranshakh and grandsons Ulugbek, Sultan Muhammad. Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, roads to Shahrisabz were under snow, so he was buried here instead. The Registan Square was the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand of the Timurid’s dinasty. The name Registan means “Sandy place” or “desert” in Persian. The Ulugbek Madrassah(1417–1420), The Tilla-Kori Madrassah (1646–1660) and The Sher-Dor Madrassah (1619–1636). The Ulugbek Madrassa was built during the Timurid’s Empire, has an imposing aiwan with a lancet-arch pishtaq or portal facing the square. The corners are flanked by high minarets. It was one of the best clergy universities of the Muslim Orient in the XV Century. Abdurahman Jomiy (was the great Persian poet, scholar, mystic, scientist and philosopher) studied here. During Ulugbek’s government madrassah was a centre of secular science. The Sher-Dor Madrassah was built in the XVII century by Yalangtush Bahodir (was the ruler of Samarkand), he ordered the construction of the Sher-Dor and Tilla-Kori madrassahs. The Tilla-Kori Madrassah(means ‘gilded’) was built 10 years later. The mosque building (see picture) is situated in the western section of the courtyard. The main hall of the mosque is abundantly gilded. The Mosque Bibi Khanum is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand. In the XV century it was one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world. The Mausoleum of Shah-i-Zinda (means “The Living King”) is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand. The Ulugbek’s Observatory was built in the XV century by the Timurid astronomer Ulugbek, it is considered by scholars as one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world in that century. Some of the famous Islamic astronomers who worked at the observatory include Al-Kashi, Ali Qushchi and Ulugbek himself. The observatory was destroyed in 1449 and rediscovered in 1908. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
SAMARKAND – TASHKENT (excursion + 280 km)
Breakfast, free time till 12.00. ‘Check out’ from the hotel. Excursion in Museum Afrosiyob. It was an ancient site of northern Samarkand, that was occupied from c 500 BC to 1220 AD. Today, it is a hilly grass mound located near the Bibi Khanaum Mosque. Afrasiyab is the oldest part and the ruined site of the ancient and medieval city of Samarkand. It was located on high ground for defensive reasons, south of a river valley and north of a large fertile area which has now became part of the city of Samarkand. The habitation of the territories of Afrasiyab began in the VII-VI centuries BC, as the centre of the Sogdian culture. The Tomb of Daniel is the traditional burial place of the biblical prophet Daniel. Various locations have been named for the site, but the tomb in Susa, Iran, is the most widely accepted, it being first mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Asia between 1160 and 1163. Transfer to Tashkent. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
TASHKENT – HOME (10 km + flight)
Early morning, transfer from hotel to airport & departure to home