Central Asia: Uzbekistan - Things to See/Do in Bukhara Part 1

By Cubie - January 17, 2016

1. Kalon Minaret
It was built in 1127 and was likely the tallest monument in Central Asia at the time. Kalon means 'great' in Tajik and this minaret stood at 47m tall with 10m deep foundation. It has 14 ornamental bands and each bands are different. It was said that when Gengis Khan saw it, he was dumb-founded by it hence the minaret was not destroyed.

Legend said that a Karakhanid rule, Arslan Khan had a quarrel with an imam and killed him. That night he dreamt of the imam who told him, "You have killed me; now oblige me by laying my head on a spot where nobody can tread". Hence it was said Kalon Minaret was built over the imam's grave.. umm...

2. Kalon Mosque
Just next to Kalon Minaret stood the mosque. Initially was I enthusiastic to visit our first sight and greeted the man at the counter, "Hi How are you?" All he said was, "You need to pay" in his solemn grumpy face. I miss Khiva already. We found people in Khiva are generally more friendly, maybe Bukhara is a slightly bigger town? Anyway, back to the mosque, it was a spacious building and was used as a warehouse during the Soviet times. It was reopened as a place of worship in 1991.

3. The Ark
Ok, this is a bit of a cheat for us... because we only see it from outside. You won't mistook the exterior with another monument as it look like an ark. We initially wanted to enter but most of the attractions were not opened. In fact, from memory only one was opened so we made executive decision of saving the money and splurge on something else.. lol...

In short, the Ark is a royal town in a town structure. It is Bukhara's oldest structure, occupied from 5th century till 1920 when it was bombed by the Red Army. The Ark now houses a few museums.

4. Bolo-Hauz Mosque
Opposite the Ark's gate is the Bolo-Hauz Mosque which was built in 1718. It was the emir's official place of worship. Beside the building is a water tower which was built by the Russians in 1927. It is no longer in use. There is no entrance fee to enter the mosque but a small donation is expected. Someone approached us, gave some introduction about the mosque and pointed out where the donation box.

5. Chashma Ayub Mausoleum
Actually our objective was Ismail Samani Mausoleum but this was on the way, so we made a pit stop. The mausoleum was built from the 12th-16th century over a spring. Inside is a small water museum. According to Lonely Planet, admission fee is required but I don't recall anyone collected any fee from us though.

Pointed roof always remind me of Disneyland..lol
6. Ismail Samani Mausoleum
This was our intended destination. It is the town's oldest Muslim monument and completed in 905. It definitely looks different architecturally - the exterior is of baked terracotta brickwork. Ismail Samani is the founder of Samanid dynasty and this mausoleum was for himself, his father and grandson. The mausoleum looked smallish from the outside but we being cheapskate didn't pay for the entrance fee.

7. Lyabi-Hauz
Lyabi-Hauz is the Tajik name for 'around the pool'. The center of it is of course a pool, shaded by mulberry trees. Around the pool are eating places and there were loud music at night. It kind of transformed back to the 60's at night. Lol.

Nearby Lyabi Haus is the statue of Hoja Nasruddin. Hoja Nasruddin was a Sufi, believed to be from the 13th century. He was remember for his funny stories and teaching tales. This statue is super popular, we had to wait for our turn to chance of photograph with him. Then came a group of older ladies tourists. An English speaking tour guide who has hanging around Lyabi Haus told us that the ladies travelled from Fergana Valley via Tashkent and wanted photos with sis and I. It was quite funny actually because when we view the photo output, we realised that only sis and I are the only two foolish Asians who smiled and showed teeth. Lol.

Along both sides of Lyabi-Hauz are two medressa, one of them is Nadir Divanbegi Medressa. It was named after a khan who rule Bukhara in 1611-1642. This medressa was specifically described by most guidebooks as this medressa is decorated with images of birds, animals and sun which is atypical for Muslim monuments.

Side note: Must finished within the deadline...!

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