Why Are Indian Tourists Visiting Uzbekistan? - Hindustan Times
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Why Are Indian Tourists Visiting Uzbekistan?

Published on Mar 01, 2024 10:55 AM IST

Food and transport are particularly cheap, with taxi apps such as Yandex making inner city transport especially convenient these days.

Why Are Indian Tourists Visiting Uzbekistan?
Why Are Indian Tourists Visiting Uzbekistan?
ByHT Brand Studio

As post-pandemic global travel in 2023 almost reached peak 2019 numbers, the number of Indian citizens visiting Uzbekistan reached its highest number ever with over 45,000 visitors from the peninsula.

As the United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts global tourism to reach its pre-pandemic levels in 2024, even more Indian citizens are expected to visit Uzbekistan this year. What is drawing these adventurers to the heart of Central Asia?

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UNESCO Heritage Sites

Uzbekistan is best known for its rich history and architectural masterpieces. It’s home to 5 UNESCO heritage sites, 4 of which are cultural sites with the one natural site being the Tian Shan mountains.

Samarkand “Crossroad of Cultures” is believed to be as old as the 7th Century BC and experienced its most influential period during the Timurud era of the 14th and 15th centuries. It’s most famous for its Registan - an open square upon which three beautifully designed madrasas sit facing one another. It’s famous for its blue domes, intricate tilework, and golden interiors typical of Uzbek architecture from this period.

Elsewhere in the country, traveling to Khiva means exploring medieval fortress Itchan Kala, packed full of beautiful palaces, madrasas, and minarets. Bukhara is also home to dozens of masterpieces such as the 5th century Ark of Bukhara and the Samanid mausoleum, which has remained intact since the 10th century.

Indian-Uzbekistan Relations

India and Uzbekistan have a long history of cultural and trade ties dating back centuries.

Ancient Silk Road trade routes passed through Uzbekistan, connecting India, China, and Europe and shared historical figures, such as Babur, further solidified the bond between the two nations.

In modern times, diplomatic visits and cultural exchanges have strengthened relations, with Indian movies and media being popular in Uzbekistan. Educational and cultural initiatives, like the Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Indian Culture, promote understanding and cooperation.

There is also a small but vibrant Indian community in Uzbekistan actively participating in cultural events, fostering closer ties between the two countries.

Currency

India Forbes recently listed the Uzbek currency (som) as one of the cheapest in the world and it seems that many Indian citizens are taking advantage of this. The currency conversion rate as of February 2024 is roughly 1 INR to 150 UZS. The Economist even named capital city Tashkent as one of the top ten cheapest cities in the world in 2023.

Food and transport are particularly cheap, with taxi apps such as Yandex making inner city transport especially convenient these days. Tashkent’s metro is particularly impressive, costing 2,000 Som to ride (around 13 INR). It’s a popular spot for tourists due to its elaborate decorations, mosaics, and artwork.

The entry fee to most historical sites is very low with most costing at most $2-3 to enter. There has also been an increase in cheap accommodation such as guesthouses and family-run boutique hotels, especially in Bukhara and Khiva. There are also a small number of cheap hotels in Tashkent.

Food

Uzbek and Indian cuisine are closely related and Indians will recognise many Uzbek meals as similar to their own. The national dish of Uzbekistan is plov, mixing rice, meat, vegetables, and spices, which Indians will acknowledge as a cousin of pulao.

Other delicious meals that Indians will recognise include Uzbek bread, non; Uzbek samosas, somsa filled with meat or vegetables and cooked in a tandir; and shashlik kebabs, reminiscent of seekh kebabs.

Tea is also a highly important drink to Uzbeks and no table is complete without it. Tea can be bought in the local bazaars where vendors also sell spices, silk, dried fruits and nuts, cotton, and jewelry such as Uzbek gold as they have done for thousands of years.

Traveling to Uzbekistan

Flying between India and Uzbekistan has never been so convenient post-pandemic. Tickets for the 3 hour daily flight from Delhi to Tashkent can be bought for $153/12,700 INR directly through Uzbekistan airways.

There is also a twice weekly 4 hour flight from Mumbai, starting from $185/15,300 INR one way.

The high speed train Afrasiyab runs daily connecting Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. Tourists can enjoy a smooth ride through the Uzbek countryside on their way to UNESCO heritage sites such as the Registan for $16/1,350 INR per ticket.

Visas

Indian citizens do need a visa to travel to Uzbekistan but fortunately the process is very simple and can all be completed online. A 30 day single-entry tourist visa costs $20 and it takes just a few minutes to fill in the form and upload a photo.

Uzbekistan’s e-visa portal is easy to use and the turnaround time for most visas is less than 5 working days.

Disclaimer: This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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