Taking a train from Tashkent to Bukhara, you are up to witness the ancient city that was at the heart of the Silk Route, connecting China to the Mediterranean and beyond.
Bukhara is a unique ancient city that holds some of the most intact ancient architecture. From mausoleums to mosques and grand bazaars to intricate architectural sites, this city is a living marvel of ancient times.
Dating back to more than 2,500 years this legendary city is a living library for history buffs. The land that gave to many intellectuals, scientists and scholars, Bukhara was once the capital of Khanate of Bukhara and birthplace of Imam Bukhari.
Visiting the famous Naqshband Cultural Centre, one is amazed to meet the local talent working hard to preserve their inherited craftsmanship and passing their knowledge to the future generations.
From making silk papers to their wooden handicrafts and miniature paintings to their famous silk carpets, Bukhara has something to offer to every visitor.
Unlike the capital, I found Bukhara a bit calmer and relaxed city of warm hospitable people who would love to share their mythical tales over a cup of their famous Chai.
UNESCO has taken the historic complex of Bukhara under their heritage since 1993. Walking in this monumental complex you’ll be taken more than 2000 years back in time.
This medieval city is well preserved where you come across the ancient architecture dating back to the 10th century.
When Mongols (Genghis Khan) invaded the city in the early 1200s, he destroyed most of the monumental sites, leaving havoc behind but the resilient city rose from the ashes and started building itself back, in the 14th Century, under Timurid dynasty.
Bukhara is known as being an epicentre for Sufi Islamic history which was introduced by Hazrat Bahauddin Naqshband Bukhari (Naqshband- craftsman who weaves a divine pattern of love and wisdom on your heart) a Sufi Sheikh from 14th century.
Visiting his mausoleum is a unique and soul liberating experience for the seekers of wisdom and knowledge.
This beautiful complex consists of gardens, mosques, seminaries and a soothing pond. Destination Samarkand: Another two hour train ride from Bukhara, in the most comfortable modern speed train, passing through green pastures and breathtaking sights, you reach the magical land of Samarkand (Samar: fruit, Kand:candy).
This city of Central Asia, which is now in the heart of Uzbekistan, is more than 2700 years old.
Being the richest and largest city of its time, Samarkand was the main artery of the Silk Road where East met West.
From breathtaking architecture of Gur e Amir (Tomb of Timur), to timeless Madrasahs of Registan, from mausoleum of Shah e Zinda ( Hazrat Kussam Ibn e Abbas) to Bibi Khanum mosque, Samarkand has its own architectural patterns blended with rich colours and crafts which are as unique and mesmerising as the city itself.
Samarkand was once known as Maracanda in the 4th century BCE when it was conquered by Alexander the Great.
Later this city was ruled by Turks, Arabs, Persians and Tugriks over centuries.
After the Mongols, Samarkand became the capital of the Timurid Empire (Tamerlane) who worked extensively on building this great city and making it the most important economic and cultural hub of Central Asia.
Other than historic sites, Samarkand today is as progressive as any modern city of the world.
With reliable infrastructure, modern mechanics, promising youth and well equipped universities, Samarkand is definitely paving the way into the modern world.
The crisp fresh air, hospitable people and unforgettable food will keep you coming back to this oasis.
Uzbekistan recently celebrated its31st Independence Day but they’re already way ahead of their time.
Uzbeks are competitive and hardworking people who are working day in and out to progress and bring prosperity to their country.
Language, for my part of the world, is still challenging but the universal language of love was enough to communicate with the locals who are generous and hospitable people.
The first-hand experience of their rich history, diverse culture, exquisite food and traditional folk will imprint your heart and, like me, you will return with an excess baggage of love and memories to cherish.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan share a brotherly bond which, we hope, will cement the relationship further between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of the current visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Uzbekistan.
We foresee that in the future the two countries will see more tourism, trade and educational exchanges.
This write up probably reflects only a fraction of what I witnessed and experienced in the beautiful Uzbekistan.
Every journey teaches you something new and this past week in Uzbekistan, I got a chance to meet and learn from some wonderful people from diverse cultures.
My heartfelt gratitude to the Uzbek Government for their generous and unforgettable hospitality.
A traveller leaves a part of themselves where they travel and brings a part of the destination home.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Karachi.