It was my first diplomatic visit (and foreign trip also), organised from 21st to 26th November, 2011. We left at 11 pm (not sharp !!) for IG International Airport, Delhi. Formalities done and we were walking through corridor to the gate where our  Uzbek Airlines flight was to take off from. We noticed a marvelous Mercedes car, kept for exhibition. 3Ms are considered to be symbol of elite life: M’em, Money & Mercedes. I literally love the car, so went there, had a close charming look as if I was sucking its beauty through my eyes. I asked for the price, INR 3.2 crore ! A dream only for me. 

We reached to Tashkent at around 5 am, very cold. It was tough to inquire for the way because all there do not understand English, but when we headed towards exit gate, embassy people were there to receive us, one Indian Mr. Manoj Kumar and one Uzbek whose name I could not remember. Taking one photo of Airport, we moved towards hotel – The Park Turon 4 *, had sleep for 2-3 hours and assembled for break-fast, which was surprisingly fully Indian. I came to know that it was an Indian hotel; kitchen was also Indian, good for a pure vegetarian like me who demands egg-less cake even while abroad ! Having enjoyed food, we were to visit Indian Embassy in Tashkent. Mr. Kumar had already reached hotel, in the lounge he gave us our programme and also US $ !!!! My first earning in foreign currency, apart from US$ 50 which I had taken with me from India. With him was a young Uzbek lady Ms. Ayana as our guide there.

Embassy was really impressive. Our meeting with the Ambassador Mr. Geetesh Sharma was very informative and I was impressed with his knowledge, dedication and analysis of the situation. We had a good interactive session after his address. We converted our USD into Uzbek Soum and felt like rich, because US $ 1 was about 1759 Soums officially and we came to know that in black market it was around 2600 soums. Some of my colleagues also got a local mobile sim card to talk to their home back in India but finding it very costly my GUJARATI mind found another alternate to talk once to give message and then directly talk after one week !!! Uzbek employees in the Embassy were also warmly in their behaviour. We had a round of embassy set up and short briefings by various officers about their work areas.  It is a small mission so not many officers were there. Our lunch was at the hotel. After lunch, we visited a Road named after Late Indian Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri. There was a statue of Shastriji, where as Amb. Sharma had informed us, ceremonial programmes were being organized on the day of 2nd October, Lal Bahadur Shastri Jayanti. Then we visited Lal Bahadur Shastri Cultural Centre of India where we were briefed, and saw a performance of Indian dance and music by Uzbek girls. Yoga classes at cultural center is very popular and around 300 participats are enroled presently. Learning of Hindi is also popular there and a good number of students regularly join Hindi language programme. Some schools also teach Hindi as one language to students. India gives 18 slots of Scholarship to Uzbek students every year and it is availed by them competitively. We also visited Independence Square, Memory Square and Tsum Market. All places were earlier Russified by Lenin and Stalin but after getting independence from Russia it seems that Uzbekistan has started a well considered De-Russification, as told to us by our guide.

After magnetic effect of embassy set-up, cultural center and other information about India-Uzbek relations, coming next was Dinner at Ambassador’s impressive, marvelous Residence on the first day itself. There was an address by a reputed Uzbek retired diplomat Mr. Surrat Mirkazimov, who had been the first Uzbek Ambassador to India. It was an inspiring address by the veteran diplomat which warmed up atmosphere when he spoke clear Hindi !

On the second day we visited embassy in forenoon session and were briefed about Visa and Consular work. We had a hand on work on visa process. After lunch we visited Amit Timur’s statue and Amir Timur Museum. Amir Timur is considered their national hero, as Uzbeks no more find their pride in Lenin and Stalin but they look back to 13-14 century period to find their culture and roots. We may remember that in 1398 Timur invaded northern India, attacking the Delhi Sultanate ruled by Sultan Nasiru Din Mehmud of the Tughlaq Dynasty. Babur, who established the Mughal dynasty in India, is also remembered fondly by Uzbeks. A model of Taj Mahal is kept in Amit Timur Museum as a monument.

Our next visit was to Chorsu Market where I purchased a Russian Cap made of rabbit fur, a good deal after lot of bargain. Dinner was at Bahor Restaurant which offered traditional dance and music performance by beautiful girls, including ballet dance. 
Our third day i.e. 23rd November was our train journey to Bukhara, birth place of Babur who was descendant of Timur dynasty on paternal side and Chengiz Khan on maternal side. We reached after 3 pm so we had lunch and stayed at the Hotel Grand Bukhara. We had a bitter experience of this 4 star hotel where US $ 200 were stolen from bag of one of our colleagues and Mr. Manoj was also robbed of dollars and soums totalling to nearly US $ 150. We had meeting with President, Chamber of Coommerce of Bukhara. After dinner, we preferred outing and visited a bar, however I do not consume hard drink.
Fourth day we started at around 9 am and visited Arch- Citadel, Ensemble Gaukushan, Ensemble Kosh Madrasah, Ensemble Labi hauz and Ensemble of Poi Kalyan. Later we reached to Samanid Mausoleum and Chasma Ayub. Last place in Bukhara was Bahaaddina Naqshbandi Complex that was really attractive. It had a statue of famous Mulla Nassaruddin sitting on a donkey. We all had photo with the statue. Around 1 pm our bus accelerated towards Samarkand in yet a little foggy road outside the city. On the way we had pizzas in a hotel as our lunch. It was evening when we reached Samarkand. Samarkand is an ancient city which was located on the historic Silk Route which connected central Asia with India through trade route. We stayed in Asia Samarkand Hotel 4 *. 

Next morning we started exploring Samarkand and visited many historical, Islamic places which proved Samarkand to be a city of ancient civilization which was contemporary to ancient Rome, having a history of more than 2500 years. The city has an ancient wall around it, which might be 8-10 metres of width but now due to withering it seems like small mounds around the city.Our visit was to Imam Al Bukhary Complex, Gur Emir Mausoleum and Shahi Zinda. Gur Emir Mausoleum is Tamerlan’s tomb dating back to 14-15th ce. that was built for Timur’s grandson Muhammad Sultan and three other Timurids: Miranshah, Shahruh and Ulugbek. Shahi Zinda means Alive King. It is a necropolis on the slope of the Afrosiab hill which is connected with Kusam ibn Abbas- the cousin of Prophet Muhammad. Some other places were also seen by us, but I forget their name and historical importance. Completing them, we visited a silk factory where they produced hand made silk carpets. We got a chance to purchase some silk/cotton-silk shawls etc. Some of us visited Siab Bazaar for shopping, which I avoided due to cold and being tired. In the evening we get a train for Tashkent. It was  nearly 9 pm when we again arrived at The Park Turon, our hotel, Indian hotel. Reaching there we felt like coming back to home, especially because the dinner which was waiting for us was pure Indian !
26th was our last day in Uzbekistan. We were suppose to roam in the city of Tashkent for shopping and visiting places which we might have left. In the morning, I woke up late, moved curtain of the window and was surprised to see snow fall. Trees on the other side of road were shining with white patches of snow that have rested on its branches and trunk. Ground was covered with a layer of milk white snow. Road was wet and dark black, as snow was not making a layer there due to movement of vehicles. We had our breakfast and visited Chorsu Market. I purchased some dry fruits. It was my last visit of the day, when we returned to hotel, I had my lunch and then decided to stay in hotel while some of my colleagues went out to have a last round in some parts of the city. I talked to colleagues who had stayed back in the hotel and slept for more than 1 hour. In the evening, we had  Hi Tea, making it last in the hotel. Nearly at 7.30 we left for Airport. Flight time was 22:55 pm. Flight left early and reached Delhi before 2:00 am, where we had to wait for our bus as none of us had number of driver who might have been sleeping in parking, cornering the bus comfortably. It was nearly 45 minutes exercise when we tried to find out the bus sent for us by FSI at airport and at last had to disturb our Madam, calling her for the mobile number of driver. We reached home at around 4 am and slept.
I found the visit very very educative, informative and memorable apart from a sheer enjoyment.

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6 thoughts on “Visit to Uzbekistan

  1. Gr8 visit sir.. !!
    I think dis is the Gud way to start of 'jouney of lyf' by any diplomat.n its written very impressive n interesting way.I inspired wid u n ur visit.
    Bt I think if u were post pics also ,den it wud be much better.
    Thnx 4 blogging…..
    ” god bless u n wish u become a gr8 diplomat.”

  2. its very informative and good to know the ancient connecting places of uzbek with India… hope to read few more things from u blog… thank u.. all the best..

  3. Though I don't know You Personally but It was very touching to read your experience. Many of us have a same dream to become an IFS. I read it with full concentration.

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