Presentation of the destination
Urgut is a town and the name of a province in eastern Uzbekistan. It is found in Samarqand Province. Urgut is most famous for its grove of platan trees as well as its market. Some of the trees are more than 1,000 years old. The people living in Urgut are part of a subgroup of Uzbeks called Urgutlik and their ancestry can be traced back to a town in Urgut. There are an estimated 500,000 people who consider themselves to be Urgutlik. The climate in Urgut reaches high temperatures of 18°C (64°F) in summer. Winter temperature lows drop to -2°C (29°F). The official language of Uzbekistan is Uzbek but the language Karakalpak is also an officially recognized regional language. Majority of the population in the country is ethnic Uzbek at 81% of the population. The currency used in the country is the Uzbekistan som. Urgut is in the time zone UTC +5 and Daylight Savings Time is not observed.
Points of interests / things to see
The capital of Samarqand Province is the city of Samarkand which is located 41km (25mi) from Urgut. Registan is the center of the old part of Samarkand and was built during the Timurid Dynasty. The Registan served as a public square where the people would assemble when necessary to hear royal announcements. It was also the place where public executions were carried out. Along the square are three madrashas, which are Islamic schools. The first Madrasah that was built was the Ulugh Beg Madrasah which was constructed between the years of 1417 to 1420. The structure consists of tall minarets and an intricate geometric mosaic over the entrance. The inner courtyard has a mosque and various lecture rooms as well as dormitories for the students. In the 15th century, the Ulugh Beg Madrasah was one of the best clergy schools in the east. In the 17th century the other two Madrasahs were built. The Sher-Dor Madrasah is unique in that the mosaics feature tigers, which goes against the ban in Islam of featuring living creatures on Islamic buildings. The Tilya-Kori Madrasah, which was the last one built, was a residential area for the students as well as the principal mosque. Another important building in the area of the Registan is the Mausoleum of Shaybanids who were rulers in the area starting in the year 1500.
Bibi-Khanym Mosque is also found in the city of Samarkand, 41km (25mi) from Urgut. The mosque is most important as a site for Friday worship. The name of the mosque comes from the wife of a 14th century ruler, Amir Timur. Timur used various precious stones that he had acquired during his conquest of India to build his mosque in Samarkand. Supposedly, 90 elephants were used just to carry the precious stones to the site. The mosque was built between the years 1399 and 1404. After it was built however, the mosque was not used very often and started to be neglected and fall apart. In 1897 during an earthquake, part of the mosque collapsed, partially due to the fact that it had been built too quickly and was not very sound. In 1974 the Soviet government in Uzbekistan undertook rebuilding the mosque. Today the mosque that stands today is almost completely new and none of the original work still remains. The mosque is still not finished today. The principal cupola of the building stands at a height of 40m (131ft). The outer walls of the mosque measure 167m (182 yards) long and 109m (119 yards) wide. A bazaar, the Siyob Bazaar near Bibi-Khanym, has barely changed in the 600 years of its existence.
Gur-e Amir is also found in Samarkand, 41km (25mi) from Urgut. It is the mausoleum of the famous regional conqueror, Tamerlane (or Timur). The building over the years has been very influential on the architectural styles of other buildings in Asia including Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi as well as the Taj Mahal in Agra. Both of these structures were built by descendants of Timur, the Mughals. Gur-e Amir is an important example of Turkic-Persian architecture for the legacy it has left. In Persian, Gur-e Amir means “Tomb of the King” and it contains the remains of Tamerlane as well as his sons, grandsons and Tamerlane’s teacher. The first part of the mausoleum was built in the latter half of the 14th century. From the original first construction only a small portion remains- the foundation of the khanaka and the madrasah as well as one part of a minaret and the entrance portal. The first part was ordered built by the grandson of Tamerlane, Muhammad Sultan. When Muhammad Sultan died, the construction of the mausoleum began again in 1403 and was carried out by another grandson of Tamerlane, Ulugh Beg, to be the family crypt. Later tests were done in the 20th century to confirm the identity of the people buried in the tomb and they were confirmed to be of the Timurid family.
Shah-i-Zinda is found in the city of Samarkand which is located at a distance of 41km (25mi) from Urgut. The name is Persian for “The Living King” and the Shah-i-Zinda is a necropolis made up of mausoleums as well as other ritual buildings dating from the 11th century to the 19th century. The name of “Living King” comes from a legend concerning one man buried there, Kusam ibn Abbas who was a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. Kusam ibn Abbas had come to Samarkand and was supposedly beheaded for his faith when he started to preach about Islam in the 7th century. According to the legend, when he was beheaded he picked up his head and took it with him into the Garden of Paradise where he continues to live today, hence the title of “Living King.” Some of the buildings that are part of the Shah-i-Zinda complex were built up to the 19th century and the whole grounds now include over 20 buildings from various centuries. The first buildings in the complex date to the 11th-12th centuries but the majority are from the 14th-15th centuries. The original principal area of the complex was the Kusam ibn Abbas area which today lies in the northeastern portion of the site. The whole site is a mix of mausoleums, crypts and mosques in various architectural styles representative of the periods in which they were built.
The Ulugh Beg Observatory is found in the city of Samarkand, 41km (25mi) from Urgut. It was constructed in the 1420s by the grandson of Tamerlane, Ulugh Beg, a Timurid astronomer. Today scholars consider it to have been one of the best observatories in the Islamic World. The observatory was affiliated with the Ulugh Beg Madrasah which was also founded by Ulugh Beg and was an important place for the study of astronomy. Ulugh Beg personally selected the students allowed to study at his university and only permitted ones that he respected and approved of to be there. The most students the school had at one time was between 60 and 70. The observatory was constructed to further support the study of astronomy. Ulugh Beg was later assassinated and the observatory was destroyed by religious fanatics in 1449. It lay hidden and in ruins until it was re-discovered in 1908 by the archaeologist V.L. Vyatkin who had come across a document describing the location of the observatory. At the site, various astronomical instruments were discovered. Because of the work done at the observatory by Ulugh Beg and his students and assistants, astronomers could then accurately predict eclipses as well as the time of the sun rise. They were also able to calculate the length of a stellar year and determined it to be 365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes and 8 seconds long. That was only one minute longer than today’s modern calculations have determined the stellar year to be.
The Urgut Market is a very popular market in the area and attracts visitors and shoppers from all over the region, including from the capital of the province, the city of Samarkand. The Urguti people in general are very involved in mercantile trading and the largest market in Urgut offers a wide variety of fairly inexpensive merchandise. The market in Urgut is a great place to buy silk and textiles in Uzbekistan. The main market days are Sundays and Thursdays but there are vendors present every day of the week. The market is roughly divided into sections based on the goods and wares being sold. There is a different area for food, fabrics, clothes, carpets and so on. There is also a restaurant area of the market offering traditional Uzbek food. The market is a very traditional market with a very low level of modernization providing the visitor with a truly authentic shopping experience.
Afrasiyab or Afrasiab is an ancient site found in Samarkand, located 41km (25mi) from Urgut. The site was occupied between the years 500 BC to 1220 AD. It represents the oldest part of the city of Samarkand and is both an ancient and medieval city. It was built atop a hill for defense and was near a river valley as well as a fertile area for resource purposes. Both these areas have now been covered by the city of Samarkand. The Sogdian Culture was the first group to move into the area and settle Afrasiyab. Today the site lies on about 220 hectares (543.6 acres) of land and remnants of the ancient site go 8-12m (26-39ft) below the ground. Excavation work has been carried out at various points in the last two centuries and artifacts found are on display at the Samarkand Museum.
The Khodja Daniar Mausoleum is found in Samarkand, 41km (25mi) from Urgut. It is the mausoleum of Khoja Daniyar/St. Daniar/Daniyar/Daniel and it is considered to be one of the most controversial relics in Samarkand as well as one of its most revered. Controversial because the saint is a saint in the big three monotheistic religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - and his ashes got laid to rest in Samarkand. Khoja Daniyar was born in Jerusalem in 603 BC and the most famous story of him is when he was thrown into the den of lions as punishment for not following another religion and the lions did not hurt him. When he died he was first buried in Susa and then later canonized. According to the explanation of how his relics came to lie in Samarkand was that during Amir Timur’s conquests he could not capture the city of Susa because the relics of Daniel/Khoja Daniyar were protecting it. Timur then gave up and instead asked for some ashes to take home to protect Samarkand and that is how they arrived to the place where they rest now. Another version holds that the remains were brought by immigrants over the 5th and 6th centuries. Also another version states that they are actually the ashes of Kussam ibn Abbas, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and an associate of Daniel/Khoja Daniyar.
The Iman Al-Bukhoriy or Iman Bokhari Mausoleum is also located in Samarkand, 41km (25mi) from Urgut. Iman Al-Bukhoriy was an Islamic scholar most well-known for a hadith collection that he wrote. A hadith is a collection of sayings of the prophet Muhammad which provide a source of guidance for Muslims in addition to the teachings in the Koran. He is very important in the Sunni tradition of Islam and the hadith compilation he wrote is considered to be one of the most authentic that exists. His mausoleum is richly decorated with mosaics in different geometric and vegetative patterns using various stones. The complex also includes a mosque that can hold 1,500 worshippers at a time as well as a library, a museum with gifts from various countries and a center for hadith study.
Vacation rentals in Urgut (Samarkand Province)
How to get there ?
Majority of flights to Uzbekistan arrive at the capital, Tashkent at the Tashkent International Airport. Some flights from Russia to go to smaller airports such as the ones in Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench. The national airline carrier is Uzbekistan Airways which offers flights in the country as well as to other destinations in Europe and Asia. There are land border crossings between Uzbekistan and the countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Some borders are closed off and on, especially the ones to Afghanistan. Others are very slow and inefficient to get across so be prepared to wait if necessary. From Moscow, there are three trains a week that leave to Tashkent and make the trip in 66 hours. Catching a bus in Uzbekistan is a tricky task. Buses are run by various private companies that do not have schedules and the bus will only leave once it is full. There is a bus that runs Samarkand to Urgut and the journey takes about one hour because it picks people up along the way. Similar to buses are marshrutkas which are large vans that hold 11 to 14 people and run routes between destinations. The best way to get city to city is by train. They are comfortable and safe but not very fast. Long haul trains often have sleeper cars. Domestic flights from Tashkent to other cities in Uzbekistan are another option. Driving is possible in Uzbekistan but there are no car rental agencies in the country. Therefore travelers wishing to see Uzbekistan by car will have to rent it in a nearby country and drive in. Due to the poor bus system and slow trains, renting a driver or a taxi to take you on a trip between cities may by the most efficient option.
Hotels in Urgut (Samarkand Province)