The architecture of the Tashkent Metro is one of the most beautiful in the world, and it is a traditional destination for tourists and guests...
For a thousand years, the Silk Route, the greatest land based trading highway the world has seen, wound its way from China, through Central Asia to Europe. It was in this part of the world where crossed the cultures and lifestyles between nomadic tribes and some of the oldest cities in the world. Crossroads of religions, with Buddhist, Christian and Muslim influences. Central Asia remains swathed in myth and mystery, it’s possible to while away days at a time enraptured by the traditional culture and visual history, from which you will likely come away enthused with more questions than you arrived with.
The history of Uzbekistan fascinates and this 12-day tour is aimed to introduce you to a Zoroastrian and Buddhist cultural heritage of of this country. Many scientists consider Central Asia, especially Khorezm as a birthplace of the Zoroastrianism and its prophet Zaratustra. According to the legend it was the place where Zoroaster wrote the first lines of Avesta.
Buddhism also played a vital role in the ideology of the Ancient Termez (southern Uzbekistan) for 7 centuries long: from the 1st till 7th century A.D. The earliest information about the extensive Buddhist presence in Central Asia came from a 7th Century Buddhist pilgrim Xuan Zang who visited this region and described this rich and fascinating land extensively. He wrote about the active Buddhist presence in cities like Samarkand, Termez, Chach (Tashkent), Kesh (Shakhrisabz) and Toharistan (Baktria). And then it was all forgotten in the tumult and turmoil of war, conquests and trade…
Within this tour you will explore the Buddhist heritage of Uzbekistan, formed in the period from I c. BC. to the VII-VIII centuries, when large Buddhist communities were active and constructed churches, monasteries, holy mortars. This religious and cultural tradition emerged from the south of India, through the activity of monks – preachers, Indo-Greek, Greek-Bactrian rulers, Kushan kings. The tour participants will be able to get acquainted with the archaeological "traces" as well as preserved artifacts from the temples and monasteries, representing the highest artistic level of Buddhist architecture, painting and temple sculpture.
Central Asia played an important role in the emergence of the Buddhist teaching of Mahayana "great chariot") and further spread of Buddhism to the east along the Great Silk Road. In the IX-XI centuries Buddhist ideas of "median path", "spiritual perfection," "meditation" were adopted by Islamic Sufi teachings of Central Asia. The format of communal brotherhood, collective learning and architectural forms of Buddhist monasteries became a model for the organization of such Islamic institutions as a madrassah and a Sufi khanaka. Traditions of Buddhist cosmography are still preserved in the Central Asian art embroidery.
This tour is for genuine history lovers, for those who is interested in the origin and spread of the great religions, for those who would like to see with own eyes the places of their utmost glory and witness the traces of their fall. A must-do for any amateur in history of religion.
One of the seeming miracles in the story of man is the spread of ideas, across the barriers of formidable mountains, vast oceans and national boundaries. The warm acceptance of concepts from distant lands goes to underline the deep similarity of human nature and aspirations everywhere. One of the greatest examples of the dissemination of philosophic and artistic ideas is the spread of Buddhism from the Indian subcontinent to the many countries of Asia. We must remember that these ideas spread entirely without the use of the sword. Buddhism has a great vision of the eternal harmony of the world. This faith, with its message of compassion, spread far and wide and shaped the culture of a continent. This is a culture of peace and gentleness which continues, even in the midst of the materialistic world of today.
Just across the border from Afghanistan, the town of Termez has the sites of two major stupas, dated between the 1st and 3rd century AD—Kara-Tepe and Fayaz-Tepe. The ruins show that both were major monastic centres.
Kara-Tepe has vast and extensive ruins and must have housed a large number of monks. This is the same period of time when the great Indian Pandit Kumarayana would have traveled on the Silk Route, from Kashmir past here to Urumqi (now in China), where he married Princess Jiva of Kucha. Their son Kumarajiva went on to become the greatest name in Buddhism in China. Travelling through Uzbekistan reminds one of the great romances of the exchange of philosophic and aesthetic ideas in the ancient times.
The trade routes that ran from northwestern India to northern China made possible both the introduction of Buddhism to Central Asia and the maintenance, for many centuries, of a flourishing Buddhist culture there. Indie faiths were never a missionary movement. However, Buddha’s teachings spread far and wide on the Indian subcontinent, and from there, throughout Asia. In each new culture it reached, the Buddhist methods and styles were modified to fit the local traditions, without compromising the essential philosophical points of wisdom and compassion.
When Buddhist merchants visited and settled in different lands, members of the local populations developed interest in their beliefs. Such a process occurred with Buddhism in the lands along the Silk Road in Central Asia during the two centuries before and after the
common era. As local rulers and their people learned more about this Indian religion, they invited monks from the merchants’ native regions as advisors or teachers and, in this manner, eventually adopted the Buddhist faith.
Buddhism in the south of Uzbekistan arrived from North Western India. Some scholars date the corning of Buddhism in Uzbekistan to the time of the Kushana King Kanishka (the first half the 2ncl century AD) Others date the beginnings of Buddhism here to an earlier period. Greek coins of the 2nci century BCE found in this region have Indie deities and motifs. The Buddhist Stupas in Termez are of fundamental importance in the study of the history of Buddhism in Uzbekistan. From the excavations of the early stupas of this area begins the study of Buddhist monuments in Central Asia.
There is a fine Shiva head, a few Buddhas, and some remains of mural paintings in the National Museum at Tashkent, which preserve memories of the culture of ancient Uzbekistan, as well as its links with India.
Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Today most Zoroastrians live in western India and are known as Parsees ("from Persia"), though there are also small communities of Parsees in Iran. 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.
Born in the ancient Khorezm, Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the three great Iranian empires, which existed for over 13 centuries, up to the 7th century A.D. Zoroastrianism was a dominant religion almost everywhere in Central Asia and the Middle East.
For thousand years Zoroastrianism was widely spread in Khorezm, Sogdiana and Bactria. In the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River, three kilometers off the town of Khojeili, there was found a unique archeological complex - Mizdakhan. The complex stands on three hills. In its eastern part there remained a lot of sepulchral chambers for assuaris. The complex is what remained of a town that used to be a trade and crafts center of the Khorezm state. One of the branches of the Great Silk Road ran through this town. Not far from Mizdakhan stands Chilpik - a well-preserved ancient cult Zoroastrian construction. According to the legend it was the place where Zoroaster wrote the first lines of Avesta. The strong walls of the fortresses Ayaz-Kala, Toprak-Kala, Kuy-Krilgan-Kala, Burgun-Kala, Dev-Kala are still the integral part of Khorezmian landscapes. While examining these great monuments, the archeologists found the remains of fire temples, household articles, ceramic objects and sculptures - all relating to Zoroastrianism and Avesta characters. In the interior of Toprak-Kala, for example, there were found fragments of wall paintings and sculptural decor. Some Zoroastrian customs and traditions can be traced in the present life of the local people; for instance, duels of fighting rams, typical Khorezm dance Lyazgi, which is believed to be the fire-worshippers' ritual dance.
On Afrosiab hills, which hide the ruins of the ancient Sogdian capital Marakanda, there can still be found statuettes of the Zoroastrian goddess of fertility - Anakhita. According to the legend, one of the oldest Bukhara mosques Magoki-Attari was built in the 11th century on the foundations of Zoroasterain shrine. The last mention of Zoroaster followers in Samarkand and Bukhara dates back to the period when Islam was spread in the area. After the Mongolian conquest, there probably left no more Zoroastrians here. The Central Asian Jews, or Bukhara Jews, so far have been studied very little, though this very ethnic group has preserved many customs and rites closely connected with Zoroastrianism.
Arrive in Tashkent. You will be met by our driver and transferred to the hotel. Check in to the hotel at noon. Guided tour in Tashkent: visit History Museum to explore vast collection of artifacts related to Zoroastrian and Buddhist period in Uzbekistan. Continue to archaeological site of Ming Urik, visit Old City part of Tashkent with Chorsu bazaar, Independence Square, Amir Timur Square in center of Tashkent. Overnight at the hotel.
Transfer to local airport for morning flight to Termez (661 km, 2 h.). Upon arrival you will be met by your driver and guide. Start sightseeing in ancient Buddhist center and one of the oldest cities in Central Asia – Termez. Visit Kokildor-Ota Khanaka, Fortress Kyrk-Kyz – a summer residence of Samani rulers, Sultan Saodat Ensemble, and Zurmala – Buddha's stupa. Continue to Buddhist archaeological sites of Kara-Tepe*, Fayaz-Tepe and Mausoleum of Al-Hakim at-Termezi. Free time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
*Visit to Kara-Tepe is subject to approval by the State Border Committee.
Check-out from the hotel till noon. Continue guided tour in Termez. Drive north-east to see Kampyr-Tepe – Greco-Bactrian Kingdom fortress (35 km, 1 h.). Then visit Jarkurgan Minaret (30 km, 50 min.). Drive back to Termez, on the way enjoy views of Surkhan oasis and Friendship Bridge, which connects Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Visit Archaeology Museum to explore exhibits discovered on the territory of Termez and its surroundings. In the evening transfer to the airport for flight to Tashkent. Upon arrival transfer to hotel/private residence.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Transfer to local airport for flight to Nukus (1255 km, 2 h. 45 min.). Arrival in Nukus, transfer to the Savitsky Karakalpakstan Art Museum. The museum hosts the world's second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art and exposition of Karakalpak applied arts items. Have a short drive around center of Nukus: see statue of Karakalpak poet Berdakh, Nukus City Hall, and Drama Theatre. In the afternoon drive to Ayaz-Kala Yurt Camp via Chilpyk – hill of silence or Zoroastrian dakhma. Arrive in Ayaz-Kala Yurt Camp, dinner and overnight in the yurt camp.
From Ayaz-Kala Yurt Camp visit a few of the larger fortresses: Gyaur-Kala – meaning infidel fortress, Qoyqirilgan Qala, and the fortress of Toprak Qala – residence of ancient Khorezm rulers. Late in the afternoon drive to Khiva. Arrive in Khiva, check in to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: breakfast, lunch.
Visit a UNESCO World Heritage site Ichan-Qala fortress. In Ichan-Qala fortress visit Kunya-Ark, Sayeed Alauddin Mausoleum, Arab-Mukhamadkhan Madrasah, Oq-Masjid Mosque, Madrasah of Hodjan Berdi-biya, Shirgazikhan, Abdullakhan, Juma Mosque, Allakulikhan Madrasah, Tosh-Khovli Palace, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, Minaret of Islom-Khoja. Free time in the afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
In the morning depart Khiva and drive to Bukhara (480 km, 7-8 h.). The Great Silk Road once routed through Bukhara and Khiva ran through the Kyzylkum Desert, as the present road does nowadays.
Stop en-route to enjoy views of Amudarya river and the desert. Arrive in Bukhara late in the afternoon, check in to the hotel. Time for rest and overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast. In the morning start walking sightseeing tour in Bukhara that will last around 6-7 hours. Visit Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Chor-Minor Madrasah, trade domes, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri-Arab Madrasah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausoleums. Overnight at the hotel.
Continue sightseeing tour with a guide. Drive out of the city to Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa – summer residence of Bukhara’s last emir. Head to Mausoleum of Bakhouddin Naqshbandi. In the afternoon depart to Samarkand (280 km, 4 h.). Stop on the way at Caravanserai Rabat-i-Malik dating back to 11th century. Arrive in Samarkand late in the afternoon, check in to hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours
Visit Gur-Emir Mausoleum, famous Registan Square, and Bibi Khanum Mosque. Continue to Afrasiab Museum & archaeological site – a hilly area of 212 hectares surrounded by a moat. Archaeologists presently conduct excavations on the site. The Afrasiab Museum displays the model of ancient city and fortress walls, pottery, weaponry, coinage, altars and most of all the mural painting of the 7th century.
Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Continue sightseeing in Samarkand, visit Ulugbek Observatory and Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis. Then drive to Konigil village to explore traditional way of making world famous Samarkand paper from mulberry. Enjoy free time with car and driver at your disposal after sightseeing tour. At 16:00 transfer to railway station to take the fast-speed Afrasiab train departing to Tashkent at 17:00 (300 km). Scheduled arrival time is 19:10. Pick-up and transfer to hotel in Tashkent. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3-4 hours
Check out from the hotel till noon. Transfer to the airport. End of the tour.
3 star hotels
4-5 star hotels
|1||$ upon request||$ upon request|
if you are a solo traveler but would like to join a group tour (if there is any) to cut down on cost please do let us know
3 star hotels
4-5 star hotels
|N of nights|
|Tashkent||Uzbekistan, Shodlik Palace||Lotte City Hotel, Miran International||3|
|Bukhara||Omar Khayyam, Devon Begi||Asia Bukhara||3|
|Samarkand||Grand Samarkand, Diyora||Registan Plaza||2|
|Khiva||Euro Asia, Old Khiva, Malika Kheivak, Orient Star, Malika Khiva
Hotels will be booked based on availability
- Visa invitation letter;
- Transport service on comfortable tourist class vehicle (a certain type of vehicle is provided depending on the group size);
- Double/twin & Single sharing accommodation in the hotels with full breakfast;
- English speaking guide accompanying you during the entire itinerary;
- Sightseeing with a local English speaking guide in each city;
- Economy class ticket for train Samarkand-Tashkent;
- Economy class tickets for domestic flight Tashkent-Termez-Tashkent;
- Economy class ticket for flight Tashkent-Nukus;
- Entrance tickets to the museums, mausoleums and other sights ;
- Consular fees for Uzbekistan tourist visa;
- Fees for the use of cameras and videos in the monuments and tourist sites;
- Fees for extra service (folklore performance, meetings, tickets for a theatre and visits to museums which are not specified in the program);
- Alcohol drinks;
- Personal items;
- Full board (lunch and dinner);
- Charges in hotels for additional services;
- Early check-ins / late check-outs;
- International air tickets;
- Travel insurance.