Monday, March 27, 2006

March 23rd - Bibi Hanum & Siyob Bazaar

All the major sites are pretty much in walking distance. The next destination was Bibi Hanum, a colossal mosque that was built by Timur in the late 12th to 13th century. It was built in a mere 5 years, and as a result of the rush job and size of the mosque, it supposedly started to shed bricks and tiles a year after its completion, and ended up not being used.

Like the Registan, people will come up to you and offer to take you up the minaret. I declined, given that the minaret climb in Registan was plenty steep for my thighs to still feel wobbly.

Again, like the Registan, I found the architecture and sheer size quite amazing and impressive, but not much else. The only thing, was that because the inside of the mosque has not gone under any renovation (except for minimal structural reinforcements to prevent it from collapsing altogether) it shows the condition of what these monuments looked like before their rehabilitation. While the inside of the mosque doesn’t have much to offer in terms of things to look at other than pigeons that flying in and out of the dome, it gives you a better sense of how old the thing actually is.

Right next door to the Bibi Hanum is the Siyob Bazaar, a bazaar not for tourists but local populations. This was much more livelier and interesting! The bazaar sells fresh food to clothes. I love stopping by the snack stands to eat the local finger foods. I found it interesting that the market was very clean, and was well organized compared to the bazaars of Afghanistan, which are muddy and full of garbage. Vendors stocked their items for sale (everything from tomatoes, almonds, to hats) in neat pyramids and rows. Whenever anything was sold, they would make sure to replenish the stocks so that the neat pyramid was maintained.

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