Here the Persian world meets with Chinese and Indian. Collision with Alexander the Great, Buddhism and links with the Taj Mahal. How little we know about Uzbekistan!
Resisting Alexander the Great
On the outskirts of Samarkand there is a place visited by few tourists. Afrosiab - the remains of the ancient capital of the kingdom of Sogdiana. Local museum hosts knives, pottery and unique frescoes of 7-8 centuries found on on this site. Sogdiana is known primarily for its strong resistance to Alexander the Great which lasted for two years - from 327 to 329 BC.
The locals launched a real guerrilla war with the Macedonians. To finally get reconciled, Alexander had to marry Roxane, the daughter of a local satrap.
Remains of the Buddhist Kingdom
Before taking Islam, many Uzbeks were Buddhists. Southern Uzbekistan was part of the Kushan Empire - one of the largest world powers that existed since the 1st century. The kingdom occupied large parts of territory of present-day India, Pakistan and China. The main religion of the empire was Buddhism.
Remains of that times can be found around the city of Termez, near the border with Afghanistan. The most prominent site is Fayaztep temple complex of the 1-3 century with a Buddhist stupa and remains of huge statues of Buddha and disciples. Many finds from this temple, in particular, Buddhist statues, are exhibited in the Museum of History of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.
The remains of another Buddhist temple of Kara-Tepe are located right on the border with Afghanistan, so you need to get a special permit to visit the complex.
From Samarkand to the Taj Mahal
Tamerlane was a legendary conqueror from Uzbekistan. But few people know that in the 14th century thanks to him Samarkand was the capital of a huge state, which included Persia, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, part of India, Turkey and all of Central Asia! Historians believe that the border of his kingdom reached even the sacred Indian city of Varanasi!
The legendary conqueror, even before his death, made plans to conquer the rest of the world, preparing to march on China! Tamerlan is buried in the tomb of Gur-Emir in Samarkand, next to his teacher and grandson. Samarkand owes Tamerlane its most famous architecture - Registan Square, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and many other sites built during his reign.
What does the Taj Mahal have to do with it? Descendant of Tamerlane, Babur conquered almost the whole of India, creating the empire of the Great Moguls (Mugla). Under their rule many iconic sights of India were built - Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Jammah Masjid mosque and other. Shah Jahan, the one who built the Taj Mahal, was Babur's great-grandson.