Posts Tagged ‘Bibi Khanum’

September 13-15, 2016: After the Registan, the Gur Emir, the Shah-i-Zinde and Shakhrisabze, you might think that we would have the rest of our three days in Samarkand free to wander around at our leisure. But no, MIR found still more for us to do. Admittedly, the afternoon they scheduled the Bibi Khanum Mosque and the bazaar I decided it was just too hot for sightseeing and retired to our air-conditioned hotel, but I went back out to see them after it cooled off a bit.
The Bibi Khanum Mosque was intended by Timur to be the largest mosque in the Islamic world, and was built to honor his favorite wife. Elephants brought marble from India, and architects came from India and Persia. It is far from the largest today, and started to decay soon after it was completed, but the decoration is still worth seeing, although some is recent restoration/reconstruction. Walking distance from our hotel, it was also conveniently close to the bazaar.

Timur’s grandson, Ulug Beg, was not responsible only for the initial buildings of the Registan. Interested as much in astrology as governing, he built an observatory, of which part of a meridian arc still remains. I must confess to finding the associated museum, which contains copies of Ulug Beg’s careful calculations, more interesting.

Aside from the bazaar, we also made a couple of other modern stops. One was at a shop of musical instruments, several of which the proprietor played for us. The second was a paper making operation, which combined a demonstration with a shopping op. Since I am tone deaf, and since I have seen paper made by hand several times – one of my few souvenirs is a beautiful dragon on hand-made paper from Bhutan – I found these stops less than compelling.

Unfortunately, I was also disappointed by the “cultural program of music and dance” we attended one evening. I was expecting a demonstration by adults, and instead the dances were performed by young children. I suspect I was the only one disappointed, as there was a great dealing of oohing and aahing about how cute the kids were. Well, they were cute, but as a demonstration it fell short. Only two boys, shorter than the girls, participated, there was no information on the history or location of the dances, and several, notably one similar to a paso doble, were too sophisticated for the children. Since this was the same day as the paper factory visit, and dinner was in a big restaurant filled with other tour groups, I finished the day wishing I was traveling independently. Still, overall Samarkand was a wonderful destination.
(I apologize for the quality of the photos, conditions were not ideal.)

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