Even when I lived in Tashkent which is only 180 miles away and I had an office job; sitting at my desk typing on my computer, my soul was still in Samarkand.
My soul walked down the streets of the city, touched the trees I used to pass by, sat on the benches of University Boulevard and talked to the people who are not there anymore. My body was in Tashkent.
It is a mystery. Everything there is a mystery. 1500 years ago Sogdians from Samarkand built their trading colonies from China to Constantinople. It was the era of trade; the time of Great Silk Road; the time of caravans and great deserts. No one can explain why these people travelled so far and stayed there forever, only to miss their homes in Samarkand for the rest of their lives.
Probably it has something to do with aura of the City. In 329 BC, the man who conquered half of the world decided to stay there for two years. He married a local woman named Roxana. That man’s name was Alexander the Great.
Locals still tell legendary stories about Iskandar Zulkarnain – A great man with two horns and often give his name to their sons.
Once upon a time Samarkand was the capital of an Empire stretching from the barren sands of Taklamakan to Eastern Europe and from the Persian Gulf to the snows of Russia.
All the treasures of the countries conquered, both intellectual and physical, were concentrated in Samarkand. Magnificent monuments of the city we wander today are the accumulation of the best achievements and efforts of the artisans of Isfahan, Shiraz, Damask, Delhi and Samarkand.
The mixture of races Timur created in Samarkand by bringing people from all around the world was a good base for cosmopolitan Samarkand of nowadays.
Though in 1740s the city was completely abandoned as a result of economic crisis and neglect. Shahmurad – the Amir of Bukhara repopulated Samarkand again by moving forcibly the population of more than 300 villages and towns to the city. And the city revived again.
Samarkand is trilingual. Half of the city’s population considers Tadjik, which is very closely related to Dari and Farsi, native language. The reason for this is complicated. Samarkand has always been a Capital. Court language has always been Darii-Farsi. That may be an explanation. The other half speaks Uzbek and Russian.
Registan Square is the most spectacular: Guri-Amir Mausoleum is the most magnificent and Shahi- Zinda Necropolis is the oldest.
Wander through the winding, narrow, never-ending maze of the old Samarkand. Look at the faces of people. Try to guess their origin. That lady passing by may be the descendant of Persian artisans, and that man sitting behind the stall may have blood of Arab Soldiers from Kutaiba in his veins.
Nowadays Samarkand is a very quiet city. The best seasons are spring and autumn. Spring here is beautiful like bride. The Gardens are in bloom and the ladies are in blossom.
Do not take taxi. Have a walk. May be you will notice my soul passing by…