Qarshi Travel Guide, Uzbekistan + 8 Things to do in Qarshi
Updated January 2023, Qarshi Travel Guide, Uzbekistan + 8 Things to do in Qarshi was originally published in October 2021
Qarshi doesn’t land on most tourist’s itineraries for Uzbekistan being a bit off-route from the main Silk Road city trail most stick to. In fact, I only landed there because I was looking for a place to break up the journey between Bukhara and Termez (and later on to Afghanistan).
Qarshi has Sogdian roots, named Nakhshab under their reign. After the city fell to the Arabs its moniker changed to Nasaf.
Finally, it received its most recent name of Qarshi following Amir Timur’s construction of a fortified palace here. Qarshi is the Chagatai word for “fort”.
Located in a fertile oasis, Qarshi would become the Emirate of Bukhara’s second city. A prominent stop along the 11 day caravan route between Balkh and Bukhara. The city would flourish from the 14th century on.
Things to do in Qarshi
Below you will find the top 8 things to do in Qarshi. The list is in order by proximity starting from the square and ending at the southern end of the city at the WWII Memorial. This itinerary is easily completed in reverse as well.
Know that you can visit all the sites in Qarshi in one day as it’s not a large city. If you don’t want a jampacked day, you could split it into two.
Odina Mosque & Regional Museum and Sardoba
Dating back to the 16th century, the exterior of the Odina Mosque is quite beautiful. The mosque’s roots go back further as it was built on a once Mongol Palace turned prison.
Odina Mosque has been more recently restored and now houses the Qashqadaryo Regional Museum, featuring some interesting pieces and artifacts from the area. I liked the displays of locally made jewelry and touring the workshop where artisans create modern renditions.
Outside, don’t miss the circular Sardoba. A covered pool that would have been the water source for the mosque where adherents would perform pre-prayer ablutions.
Don’t miss Uzbekistan’s other southern city of Termez
Rabiya Madrasa, sometimes referred to as Bekmir Madrasa served as a female madrasa (religious school). The madrasa was constructed between 1904 and 1915 along with nearby Kalizbek and Khodjaev Abdul Aziz Madrasas. None of the madrasas sat around this square function as religious schools any longer and have all seemed to receive more recent facelifts.
I was able to visit the inside of Rabiya Madrasa. It did have a couple of shops functioning inside.
Kalizbek Madrasa, as mentioned before functioned as an Islamic religious school but is no longer used. If you can find the caretaker it may be worth peeking inside to see what the interior looks like.
Khodjaev Abdul Aziz Madrasa
Across a somewhat busy thoroughfare, Khodjaev Abdul Aziz Madrasa sits just adjacent to the park the other two madrasas are perched on.
Interested in more Silk Road architecture, madrasas, and mosques? Don’t miss Bukhara
Centrally located and just across Karimov Street from Odina Mosque and the madrasas. Eski Bazaar (meaning old) is a good place to stock up on any items you may need.
Blue domed Kok Gumbez is just a short walk to the southeast from the cluster of Odina Mosque and the three madrasas. Kok Gumbez serves as Qarshi’s Friday Mosque and is the Qashqadaryo Region’s largest place of worship.
Qarshi’s Kok Gumbez features intricate and dazzling Timurid-style blue tile work that is more similar to sites you’ll see in Shahrisabz or Samarkand. Personally, I thought a lot of Qarshi’s religious sites shared more in common with those built in Balkh and Herat across the border in Afghanistan.
I had read that Kok Gumbez would have been constructed in the late 16th century under Emperor Ulugbek in honor of his father Shah Rukh. However, I’m not sure this is true or not as Ulugbek reigned for only two years and was assassinated by his son Abdul Latif Mirza, putting his death in 1449 AD, only two years after Shah Rukh.
Starting in the capital? Here’s everything you need to plan a stay in Tashkent
Military Museum & Vatanparvlar Park
Vatanparvlar Park hosts the under-construction military museum, featuring a YAK-40 that you cannot miss in addition to a helicopter, tanks, and jets on display. A 16th century bathhouse exists within the park’s bounds that’s worthy of checking out. There is also a modern swimming pool at Vatanparvlar Park.
Last but not least and in my opinion, one of the more unique buildings on this list of things to do in Qarshi is the unusual Memorial to the Great Patriotic War (WWII). The memorial is one of the largest in all of Central Asia dating back to the Soviet era.
A series of walkways lead to the main memorial building sat atop a hill. The memorial features the ubiquitous eternal flame inside and its tower topped with a red star.
Entering inside the memorial is a must to see the light shining through the impressive stained glass scenes places on each wall, depicting people harvesting crops and soldiers leaving their families for battle.
There is supposedly a caretaker who has keys that can let you into an upper level to see the stained glass scenes a little closer, but I didn’t see him there either time I visited. It may be best to ask around for a phone number from a local tour operator.
Want more Silk Road history? Check out Samarkand
Where to Stay in Qarshi
Midrange: Grand Star Hotel was where I stayed in Qarshi. Located not far from the WWII Monument. Rooms were clean and the included breakfast was pretty decent.
Best Restaurants in Qarshi
There are plenty of low-slung chaikhanas scattered around town, serving up typical Central Asian and Uzbek fare such as naan, chai, shorbo, shashlik, lagman, and plov.
How to get to Qarshi
I visited Qarshi between Bukhara and Termez on my most recent visit to Uzbekistan. I arrived and departed by shared taxi, but I will include information on the train as well.
By Shared Taxi
Shared taxi is the most convenient way to get to Qarshi most of the time. The main bus station for Qarshi is on Nasaf Street about 5 km southwest of the city center. You will find several departures each day between Qarshi and Shahrisabz (1 hr/60,000 UZS), Bukhara (2 hrs/90,000 UZS), and Termez (4 hrs/100,000 UZS).
The Qarshi Train Station is located at the southern terminus of Karmov Street. You can find daily departures of Shahrisabz, Samarkand, Tashkent, and Termez. You can see scheduled and purchase train tickets through the UZ Railways website, or directly through their UZ Railways mobile app (App Store | Google Play).
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