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A STOP ON THE SILK ROUTE

Uzbekistan is an emerging tourist destination in Central Asia.

In early May, Sharapov Anvar Kurbanovich, chairman of the Uzbekistan Tourism Development Committee was in Jakarta to discuss a potential tourism deal between Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Kurbanovich was on an international tour visiting countries in Southeast Asia. His delegation comprised of officials and representatives of Uzbekistan’s tourism industry and discussed the many opportunities for tourism in his country.

As the world opens up new opportunities for travel and discovery, the countries that were once part of the ancient Silk Road (essentially the belt from China to Turkey) have come into the forefront. Uzbekistan is one such country. Independent from the USSR in 1991 the country has opened up to new global opportunities and has wooed visitors with offerings of business and leisure travel experiences. The cities of  Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand were once key stop-offs for traders, and have all been painstakingly restored to their former glory – think glittering minarets, voluptuous domes and hypnotic mosaics. With direct flights between the capital Tashkent and Kuala Lumpur, the journey from Southeast Asia on Uzbekistan Airlines is not far at all.

Suggested itineraries include Samarkand, Navoi, Bukhara, Shafirkan, Gijduvan, Vabkent, Romitan and Kagan.

The transport options are plentiful. Low-cost domestic flights, great road links and high-speed trains serve all of Uzbekistan’s main draws.  Tashkent has a decent metro with some wonderfully ornate St Petersburg-style stations.

A cult-memorial complex formed around the grave of the nephew of the Prophet Muhammad, it is filled with the tombs of the local religious nobility. The construction of the mausoleums took place in the second half of the 14th century.

There are more than 7000 preserved objects here, 200 are listed into world heritage list of UNESCO. The country is also developing its gastronomic tourism and promoting one of its national dishes, the Plov, a dish of rice, meat, vegetables and spices. In 2016 Plov was added to the global intangible items list. Each of the country’s14 regions has their recipe for this dish. The country is also a wine producer.

With 18 million fruits and vegetables exported worldwide, Uzbekistan is also known for its melons. 20 varieties of the fruit exist here and were taken to India by the founder of the Mughal Empire, Babur, to India.

Several nationalities and ethnicities live together harmoniously including different religions, according to the Minister. Many tourists including from China and Indonesia visit Buddhist temples there.

The country has also preserved much of its Zoroastrian arts as well.

Large areas of the country are being developed for eco tourism.

Of particular note are the hot springs in the high mountains, which are believed to relieve common physical ailments. The Minister also highlighted that sanatoriums are being built to encourage health tourism as well from around the world.

The regions have their own style of Ikat design and fabric and hats, which are known as doppa. The culture Museum honours the different types of the hat as well.

With its mountains and snow, which are perfect for winter sports, deserts to admire as well as its vast urban environment, Uzbekistan beckons the avid traveller to its fold.

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