I loved travelling back in time in the baths in Bukhara – the filtered light on the grey marble, the steam, the beautiful young male attendants and the feeling of well-being at the end of the experience. Overnight Tashkent (2 nights) • Nukus (1 night) • Khiva (2 nights) • Bukhara (3 nights) • Samarkand (4 nights) • Tashkent (1 night) Journey through the fabled Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.
Ancient towns and caravanserais, strung like pearls on ancient golden trade routes linking Asia and Europe, developed into thriving medieval commercial and cultural centres.
Sadly, little remains of historic Tashkent as the city was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1966 and rebuilt in grandiose Soviet style.
It is currently the fourth largest city in the former Soviet Union with a population of anywhere up to 4 million people including undocumented migrants from the countryside.
Tamara became a soloist at the Uzbek Philharmonic at the age of 30 and was active in the reform and professionalism of Uzbek national and folk dance.
She gained international fame collecting and performing folk dances and songs from diverse nations; a remarkably quick learner, she could perform a piece like a native within a few days of first encountering it.
Here we learn how the styles and techniques of Central Asia’s fine ceramic tradition are not only being preserved but also inspire new, innovative forms.
Our final visit today is the house museum of Tamara Khanum (1906-1991), a folk dancer and singer of ethnic Armenian origin who was the first woman to perform publicly in Uzbekistan without a veil.
Of the many routes from east to west all of them passed through Samarkand and Bukhara.
One does get a sense of the wealth these cities must have enjoyed through the fabulous buildings that were erected with the taxes imposed on the goods travelling through.