Central Asia has been considered as a land of mingled cultures and religions. Before the advent of Islam, the territory of modern Central Asia, were practicing many religions and cultures. Due to the Great Silk Road, passing through Central Asia and connecting Asia and Europe, many merchants, travellers, missionaries and pilgrims brought new religions cultures and traditions. Exchanged spiritual and cultural values often.
In Central Asia, especially in Uzbekistan, beside the Islamic medieval holy sites, memorial complexes, mausoleums and mosques, in some locations, centuries-old holy sites and architectures which belong to Buddhism and Zoroastrian religions still preserved. During the centuries these sites were considered as a center of pilgrimage and holy place for believers. Each one has a legend attached to it that still creates curiosity among pilgrims and tourists to visit them often.
For the followers of Islam, Memorial complex of Imam Al –Bukhari and mausoleum of Bahouddin Naqshbandi are one of the must-visit sites as these people were the hadith collector and teacher of early Islamic period in Cental Asia.
While places like Fayaz tepa, Kara tepa and Dalwarzin tepa were known for its Buddhism culture, respectively, Ayaz Kala and Tuprak Kala were famous among Zoroastrian believers. Every year hordes of tourists travel to these countries to get acquainted with holy sites and architecture of world religions. With our dedicated religious tour packages, you can discover divine spirituality.
Trade brings change – and the same goes to religion. Buddhism, Zoroastrism, Islam, Christianity left their mark and influence on the religious life of the region. Did you know that one of the most important scholars for Sunni muslims, Al Bukhari, is buried in Samarkand? Or that one of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. The region can also boast regionally and globally of important Islam pilgrimage sites.
But before converting to Islam, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were main religions in the territory of Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Ancient Chinese records say, around the 1st AD, Buddhist nomadic tribe, from Western China, invaded Central Asia and built the great Kushan empire. In the meantime, however, its beliefs had spread widely in the territory of Samarkand, Bukhara and Surkhandarya province.
Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.
Most of us also do not associate Christianity with Central Asia, especially not early Christianity, and yet Eastern-rite Christian communities were established in the region by the 5th century AD.
The Church of the East had a bishop at Merv and a metropolitan at Samarkand by the mid 6th century, and there were communities at Kashgar and Turfan in Chinese Central Asia (Xinjiang) by the 7th century.
The Church of the East used Syriac as a liturgical language, but the discovery of textual fragments at Turfan shows that they also used local languages, such as Sogdian and Uighur. Sogdiana was the ancient name given to the region that covers much of Uzbekistan today.
An important witness to Christians in Sogdiana was the Muslim scholar al-Biruni (973-1048) who was born near Urgench, and who provides first hand information about the Christian communities. Before the dominance of Islam, Christians lived alongside Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Manichaeans in many towns in Central Asia, where they formed part of the melting pot of ethnic groups and religious cultures.
Among the artefacts relating to early Christianity in Uzbekistan are several ossuaries found in the region of Samarkand, as well as the site of a monastery at Urgut, also near Samarkand. Further archaeological finds at Qarshovul Tepe near Tashkent would seem to indicate the presence of a Christian community.