Trans Eurasia travel

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The fresh hills of Urgut offer a welcome break from the city heat of Samarkand. Fast- flowing mountain streams refresh a dense network of shady pools and chaikhanas, which in turn refresh thirsty bands of relaxed whitebeards. The centre is spiritually served by the restored Chubin Mosque, while the layered shelves of the valley behind conceal the sublime Chor Chinor Mosque. The cool stone chambers of the mosque are dwarfed by a grove of huge sycamore and karagacha trees that line the lime-green shade of a freshwater spring. The hills around Urgut beckon with rich hiking potential.

This town’s bazaar is one of the best places in the country to buy jewellery, suzani and antique clothing. Prices are lower and the quality on par with anything sold in Samarkand and Bukhara, but you’ll have to negotiate hard. It overflows with tourists in the high season – go in the low season when tourists are scarce and prices drop even further. Arrive at the crack of dawn for the best selection. While the bazaar is open every day, the textile and jewellery section, located at the back of the main bazaar, only happens on Sunday and Wednesday, and to a lesser extent on Saturday too.