"Sometimes the thing we can't change end up changing us..."
We reached Tashkent, and checked in the Hotel Markaziy after a five hour drive. Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, shows its roots as a Silk Road city even today. The 2,000 year-old-city whose name means “Stone Fortress” has the look of a modern metropolis.
Tashkent became a Muslim city in the 8th century AD, and was an important commercial centre during the middle Ages. Wars and natural calamities have swept most of the buildings dating back to the time of the ancient city.
Despite its modern Soviet appearance, Tashkent lacks neither beauty nor culture; this city of three million has beautifully laid out parks and glistening fountains. The weather was wonderful as we strolled through the parks.
It boasts an efficient Soviet era metro with unique breathtaking designs at its stations. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos. Soviet phobia... Up above, an electric tram system snakes across the city, complementing its public buses and taxis. The taxis are mostly new twenty five year old Lada models.
We visited the Tashkent Islamic Institute. During the time when Caliph Uthman was the caliph of the Muslims, dispute arose about the reading of the Quran. To put the discord to an end, the Quran Uthmani was written down on buckskin in six copies and sent to different parts of the world. One of the six copies was brought to Samarkand and for many years caringly kept. After the tsarist Russia took over Samarkand, this Quran to St. Petersburg and placed into the Emperor's library.
Since 1989 the sacred manuscript has been returned and kept, in the Tashkent Islamic Institute. The Muskhaf Khazrati (Quran) of Uthman is the rarest and priceless gem, which is loved and revered by every Muslim. In 2007, Tashkent was named the cultural capital of the Islamic world. Maybe because it has the Telyashayakh Mosque (Khast Imam Mosque) which contains one of the six sacred Quran Uthmani.
We ended the last day of our Uzbek discovery with an authentic Uzbek dance. It is characterized by intricate arm and hand movements, a variety of spins and turns, backbends, shoulder isolations and animated facial expressions. Footwork is relatively simple. The solo dancing was supported by a ghijak, whose round body and sound resembles that of a violin. It is played being placed vertically on the knee and the sound is produced with the help of special bow kamon.
On the last day it was snowing heavily. While waiting for the bus and at the airport we walked hand in hand with snowflakes falling from the skies.....