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BUKHARA

  The Oasis of the Kyzyl Kum desert, known from 3rd century B.C. Bukhara had several names by the different epochs: Numiskat, Madaniyat, Fakhira, Vikhara.

  It was one of the great trading centres on the Great Silk Road, an independent Emirate and scene of Anglo Russian rivalry in the "Great Game" of the 19th century, surrounded by the sands of the Kyzyl Kum desert, Bukhara still retains the atmosphere of an ancient Great Silk Road city.

  The centre of historical Bukhara is the Shakristan which contains the Ark, a massive fortress palace, home to the Emirs of Bukhara for over a millennium dated to 6-9 centuries. The fortress covers 35 thousand sq metres and includes the jewellery workshop, Visir's office (minister), prison, warehouses, mosque and Harem.

  Not far from the Ark, the 69m-high and being the highest in Islamic world Kalyan Minaret (1227) and the Kalyan Mosque, which is open to non-Muslims. Samanid Mausoleum, (9-10th century)-the burial vault of the Bukharian governors and one of the first buildings in Bukhara built from burned bricks.

  Other sights include the 16th century trading domes, the Bolo Hauz and Poi-Kalyan mosques with their beautiful decorations, The Labi Hauz complex apparently dated to 17th century is the artificial basin where old men in their traditional dress while away the afternoon drinking tea and playing chess.

   A short drive outside Bukhara is Sitora-I-Mohihosa, 19th century summer palace of the last Emir with its gaudy mix of eastern and western decoration.

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