Tag Archives: kalyan minaret

Bukhara in a Cold Sweat

Goods heading to Chorsu Bazaar

We’ve spent the last two days in Bukhara, a complete contrast to the glaze and glamour of Samarkand. I’d say, Bukhara is the face behind the façade. The mud-brick behind the coloured tiles. It’s earthy, small, more old world… cobbled streets, domed bazaars, a mosque here, a mausoleum there and a stunning minaret towering above it all.

I took off for the day with a local guide, while Nisha and Zahid met with the coppersmith, local artists, etc. All tiled out by Samarkand, the fascinating brickwork of the Ismail Samani Mausoleum caught my attention. 18 different designs using bare brick. Take a look at the photographs to see what I am talking about… just beautiful, in a down to earth way.

Next stop: The Hamam. Kunjak Hammom is a ladies only bathhouse. Knock on the black elm door and the lady in-charge lets you in through a narrow corridor that …

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In Search of Zoroastrianism

Twin Inverted Triangle

The pre-Islamic history of this region is rich with the stories of fire worshippers. Now, Zoroastrians are loosely regarded as fire worshippers but clearly, not all fire worshippers are Zoroastrians. That being said, some interesting artifacts and historical accounts associated with Zoroastrianism have survived and symbolism associated with fire worship has been carried forward into Islamic architecture and design.

At the Afrosiyob Museum, built around the excavations of Marakanda (ancient Samarkand), I was shown terracotta ossuaries (containers for the bones of dead people) from the 6-7th century. Etched onto some were Zoroastrian fire altars tended to by two mobeds (Zoroastrian priests) with nose and mouth covered, similar to the way they dress today. Incidentally, ‘mobed’ is an old Persian word meaning wise counselor. I also saw some coinage from that period bearing this very symbol. But this is no surprise. Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion throughout Central Asia for many …

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Day 10: Windchilled in Bukhara!

Hoja Nasruddin's Statue at Lyabi Hauz

We woke up to a cold, frosty morning in Bukhara. There were several versions of what the days weather would be. Predictions ranged from a “mild” minus two to a “cold” minus eight!

All bundled up, we set off to explore the old town. Bukhara was gearing up for a round of Samarkand style reconstruction with working crews on overdrive all over the old town. This was disappointing for Nisha who had memories of the way the old town was before – unspoilt with its own old character and few signs of all this unnecessary polishing.

We started at Lyab-i Hauz: a tranquil old pool that defines the heart of the old town. In summer the old mulberry trees are in full bloom and provide shade to residents and tourists alike. The pool sat there uncomplaining in the midst of the reconstruction activity. It was peaceful and stoic, just like …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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