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Zij-i-Sultani - Astronomical Studies of Ulugbek The Astronomer King

  • Itinerary:
    Tashkent - Urgench - Khiva - Bukhara - Samarkand - Tashkent
  • Duration:
    9 days / 8 nights
  • Price:
    on request
  • Tour program
    Itinerary of «Zij-i-Sultani - Astronomical Studies of Ulugbek The Astronomer King»
    Day 01: Arrive Tashkent – HY202 – 0825 hrs
    Meeting on arrival assistance and transfer to Hotel Lotte (immediate rooms)
    Afternoon sightseeing tour of Tashkent – we shall start with Old City visit Hast Imam Complex - Barak Khana the seat of the Grand Mufti of Tashkent. Later proceed to Tilla Shaikh archives – see the oldest Holy Quran more popularly known as Osman Quran as the legend says was written by the third caliph of Islam in 7th AD and one version says it is after the reign of Osman. The rare copy is written on deer skin in Kufic script and is said to have been brought during Tamerlane’s campaigns of Iraq probably from Kufa. It is now kept in the archives along with other rare Islamic manuscripts.
    Later proceed to Chorsu covered bazaar – see a variety of daily products being sold is great sight to see local folks selling and bargaining.
    We shall then walk through crowded bazaar to Kukeldash madrassah – the 16th century grand madrassah once overlooking four rivulets and the caravan road. Later drive to Mustaqlik Square (Red Square) and museum of Applied Arts
    Welcome Dinner at local restaurant!
    Overnight

    Day 02: Tashkent/Urgench – HY051 – 0715/0855 hrs
    Urgench/Khiva – 35 kms
    Morning flight to Urgench – on arrival we shall proceed to Khiva – the walled city a living museum of Central Asia, brick and tile architecture. Apart from local legend saying that Khiva was founded by Shem, one of the son of Noah who of Noah who after the great flood came to a desert in search of water and struck his luck to dug a well and water oozing out quenched his thirst exclaiming the word ‘Kheyvak’ ‘what a pleasant taste’
    However, it has been archaeologically proven that Khiva is a habitation existed around 1st AD. Khiva and the region of Khorezm was inhabited by Persians or later may have adopted the Turkic language. The inscriptions of Bhistoon near Kermashah and on the staircase of Apadana Palace, Khorezm has been mentioned as subject state of the Persians. During the time of Sassanian reign Khorezm was ruled by titular rulers under the direct influence of Sassanid empire. The archaeological finds from various mud fortresses in the whole region served as defensive shield against the cities along the Oxus river.
    With the destruction of Sassanid empire by the Arabs and their arrival in Khorrasan, changed the demographics of the desert cities with greater influence Arab influence and
    mass conversions to Islam. A new era of rulers supplanted who were local converts like
    the Seljuks and the later Khorezmians who were destroyed by the marauding Mongol
    armies changing yet another generation of local inhabitants with greater Turkic speaking
    people. Whose rise happens after the dismemberment of Mongol Empire, giving rise
    various Khanates and of which Khiva also emerged as one of the nomadic Khanate of
    Khiva. This to come to an end with the subjugation by the expansion policy of the Czars of Russia. Eventually it was the rise of communist Soviet Union and then the breakup!!

    We shall make a walking tour of the walled city – the Ichan Kala, Kalta Minor, Kunya Arg Madrassah Rakhimkhon, the workshops for the development of local handicrafts,
    Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud – was a famous wrestler who travelled to Multan then India, Iran and other places. Born in 1247 soon after the invasion of the Mongols his family had already started marching to a safer place. The legend says he is buried in Khiva in the courtyard of his own workshop as was leathercraft and hat maker by profession. But due to his stout stature he was famous for Kurash(wrestling) and had taken part in many tournaments. But he was practicing ‘Khilvati Sufi’ order and often reposed in seclusion for days. He is known for his Persian poetry which can be seen above on the tile panels of his tomb which was constructed in 1810-35 by Sher Ghazi Khan. Since then it became the place of pilgrimage. During the communist rule his mausoleum was closed to be used as local party offices but since independence it has been renovated and restored. The blue and white tile work is exceptional local art which is typical of Khorezmian style.

    Later walk to Islam Khodja minaret and museum, the Djuma Mosque (Friday mosque) with many old wooden pillars. You will notice many wood carvers sitting in the street working on small panels, Khiva was famous for best ‘Karagach’ wood work – Karagach is local tree of Indian origin was introduced here which flourished to give a hard wood like teak or sisoo in India. Later we shall visit the harem quarters.
    You will have free time to explore the city at your own
    Overnight

    Day 03: Khiva/Bukhara - 460 kms OR train
    Morning depart for Bukhara via the Kizilkym desert (red sands)
    We shall pass through vast waste land, through this desert many invaders traversed either. In high summer time the temperature reaches to 50C while in winter months it could be minus 15C. Spring and Autumn are the best times to travel through the desert as we can see some life and desert plants.
    On arrival transfer to Hotel Zargaron Plaza or Omar Khayyam
    Evening we can always have short walk to Lyabikhauz – to see local folks gathered around the pond
    Overnight

    Day 04: Bukhara
    One of the important Silk Road cities, Bukhara is regarded one of the important cities of the ancient times. Lying not very far from Amudarya (Oxus river) was among many cities that inhabited along the river of which many have disappeared altogether in history.
    The history of Bukhara is as old as 6th BC being part of the great Persian empire and continued till the last of Sassanid rule. Bukhara had been under the nomadic Turkic tribes when the Arabs arrived here in 7th AD. Arabs over threw the rulers and established their rule but with softer hand, allowing other communities to live according to their own faith.
    During the Samanid period 9th-10th AD a fire temple was still existing where now stands Poi Kalon minaret stands was the place big gathering of pilgrims. During the time of Kara Khanid ruler Arsalan Khan it was demolished to construct the huge minaret in 1127 AD while in the later century mosque was constructed. Looking at the design of the beautiful brick architecture, Poi Kalon is regarded as the best example of its time.

    We shall start our tour of Bukhara from Lyabikhauz, walking through the complex which consists of Nadirkhon Devanbegi madrassah, Kukeldash madrassah, the pond area, smaller cupola, Mohgaki Attari mosque, Tilpak Frushan(hat sellers), Tim Abdullah, mdrassahs Aziz Khan and Ulugbek later free time to walk around the covered bazaar
    In the evening we shall visit the Jewish old quarter and to the house of local miniature painter Davlet Toshev – he is a Sufi painter and it will be wonderful to see his collection and have meal with him in his house
    Overnight

    Day 05: Bukhara
    In the morning we shall visit the Arg Fortress, once home to powerful Bukhara Khans. Later visit the infamous Zindan(prison) – see the vermin pit where Stoddart and Connolly the explorers were interned and later thrown into the pit before being beheaded in front of Ark Fortress. Later visit Balakhauz mosque, Ismail Samanid mausoleum and Chasma Ayub(Job’s spring). We shall then visit also Chor Minor famous as Indian saray.
    In the afternoon visit Sufi Shrine of Bakhauddin Nakshbandi – revered through out Central Asia and India
    Later free time to explore Bukhara
    Overnight

    Day 06: Bukhara/Samarkand – 268 kms
    Morning depart for Samarkand enroute we shall make short stop at Gijduvan to see local pottery workshop. We shall visit the home workshop of Alisher, the third generation potter who has shown his workmanship to famous people visit like Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Hillary Clinton
    Later continue to Samarkand and on arrival transfer to Hotel Grand Samarkand
    We shall visit Registan Square in the late afternoon to see the sunset on madrassahs
    Overnight

    Day 07: Samarkand
    We shall make an exclusive visit of Ulugbek’s Observatory in the light of his astronomical studies and his lecturers in the Ulugbek Madrassah. We shall discuss about Ulugbek and his works.
    Ulugbek the Astronomer King: His actual name was Mirza Muhammad Tarahgay bin Shahrukh was the eldest son of Tamerlane’s son Mirza Shahrukh. During his youth he acted as governor of Samarkand but he was not a good administrator rather in pursuit of his astronomical studies. After the death of his father ruling controversies took place and he had to move to Balkh and Herat where he confronted his nephew who claimed to successor of his grandfather helped by his grandmother, the noble lady Gowharshad. He succeeded in defeating his nephew in Balkh marched towards Herat. On his return he found that his own son Mirza Latif control rebelled against him and dethroned him. He Ulugbeg retired and in the second year while he left for pilgrimage to Mecca his son conspired to kill him. But his own grandson later took control of the domains and he was reburied in Gur Emir next to his grandfather in Samarkand.

    Zij-e-Sultani: Ulugbeg compiled an astronomical table and star catalogue in 1437 AD.
    He along with his companions like Ali Qasji who was incharge of his observatory. After the construction of Ulugbek madrassah in 1420 it had become the centre of astronomical studies with many scholars like Qadizada Al-Rumi and Jamshed Qashani worked and discussed about astronomy. The accuracies of Ulugbeg’s astronomical studies had earned him one of few astronomers of the world. His mathematical and astronomical calculations were highly regarded as very accurate and he calculated the linear year as 365 5hrs, 49mins, 15secs with error of +25secs. Even the later astronomer Copernicus who lived 15th 16th AD had calculated near but with an error +30secs. Also he calculated the earth
    Tilt 23, 30, 17 degrees in sexagesimal notation.
    On the site we can see part of once huge sextant was 90 degrees quadrant with a radius of 40.4 mtrs was world’s largest of the time. His madrassah located at Registan Square was regarded as the birthplace of future astronomer.
    He was deeply involved in his studies that his prowess on administration had weakened of which his son took advantage, rebelling against him. The lack of literacy among his shaykhs who had advised his son of him drifting away from Islamic thought which ultimately led to his deposition and assassination blamed to his son.
    We can visit the Observatory and the museum which displays some manuscripts and copy of Zij-e-Sultan while the original were stolen away and could be seen in British Museum.
    Overnight

    Day 08: Samarkand
    Today we shall spend full day sightseeing Samarkand – Registan Square, Bibi Khanum mosque, Siyob bazaar and Shahi Zinda necropolis afternoon visit Afrosiab Museum, History Museum and Gur Emir, the mausoleum of Tamerlane
    Overnight

    Day 09: Samarkand/Tashkent – 330 kms
    Tashkent/London – HY201 – 1620 hrs
    We shall depart in the morning for Tashkent and arrive directly at International airport for your home departure
    we shall have lunch at airport restaurant and later transfer to departures
    assistance on departure

  • Details
    Details of itinerary & map

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