TWC'S Odyssey
Tan Wee Cheng's Travels in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

19 Jul   Khiva

Reached Khiva (pronounced as "Hiva") at approximately 4 am.  Went straight to Hotel Arkanchi (See LP) in the Ichan Kala or Old City, which was one of the two hotels in town.  We pressed the bell but nobody answered.  Spent the next hour or so sleeping at the doorway.  We tried again when the roosters proclaimed the morning and we were lucky this time.  Impressive traditional building in the middle of this ancient city..

I slept for a few hours and then decided to explore the city.  I was asked to pay 300 som for all attractions within the city and another 300 soms more for the photo permit.  As I found out later, one could actually opt to pay at individual attractions, and even bargain to lower the entrance fees.  Guardians at the West Gate watch out for people who had not paid the entrance fees, though not at the other gates.

Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madressa (1871), built by the last independent khan.  Also known by his pen name, Feruz, MRK was one of the more progress khans who was interested in science and poetry.  Due to power politics, he was unfortunately forced to submit to the Russian Empire in 1873. A Khiva medressa on Uzbek stamp West Gate and the Kalta Minor
Walls of Khiva & Coca Cola (not a sight of Pepsi in UZ - is it because Coca Cola UZ's chairman is the president's son-in-law ?) Flag of the Khorzem People's Republic, the Bolshevik creation which overthrew the ancient khanate of Khiva On the walls

Khiva was a fine city with beautiful monuments that were well preserved.  Most of the inhabitants were moved out in the 1960s, when the city was declared a "Museum City" and conservation work began.  As a result, Khiva lacked some of the life and activity that one noticed in other Uzbek cities.  However, a few thousand people still lived in the city and it wasn't as lifeless as some guidebooks alleged.  Just go to the northern part of the old city and you will find a real-life community.  In  my opinion, the only problem with the city as a major tourist attraction was that it was too small.  For someone who had already seen Samarkand and Bukhara, Khiva was no big deal.  It took me only 5 hours to see the whole city - its Kukhna Ark, medressas, mausoleums, minarets and the Tosh-Khovli Palace - and I ran out of things to do.  I spent the rest of the day chatting with other foreigners in town and finding out whether I could get into Turkmenistan, and how to get to Nukus.

The lone camel of Khiva - it must be damn bored... Kalta Minor - the most beauitful structure in Khiva - the khans pushed prisoners down this minaret... The deserted streets of Khiva - some tourists feel this is artificial.
An ancient door On the Kunya-Ark Ceilingscapes...

Getting to Turkmenistan: A tour guide named Izak Usmanov hangs around the West Gate most of the time, and he was supposed to be the local expert in getting to Turkmenistan (according to the Peace Corps people I met here).  He could arrange a visit to Konye Urgench - about US$33 per person for the visa to be arranged in Tashauz, and US$100 for van rental (bargainable).  I didn't take his services as I couldn't find people willing to share the van rental.  The LP said that it was possible to get into Turkmenistan from Nukus too (Konye Urgench was nearer to Nukus), but as I found out later, it wasn't feasible if you don't already have a Turkmen visa.  The visa was not obtainable from the border checkpoint at Nukus and one still has to come south to Tashauz which is nearer to Khiva.

Jummi Mosque - looks like a mini version of Cordoba's Mosque-Cathedral - 213 pillars inside, out of which 4 were removed from the old Khorzemian capital of Kath. Islam Khoja Madressa & Minaret Museum staff at Tash Hauli Palace - they invited me for a simple lunch of nan and tomato

Click to here to go to next page: Nukus in the Republic of Karakalpakstan

Heart of the Silk Road 
Click here to send an email to Tan Wee Cheng