Indians remember Tashkent for its association with our late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who had signed the Tashkent declaration with Pakistan ending the Indo-Pak war in 1965. Unfortunately, Shastri died an untimely death while still in Tashkent on 11 January 1966, the very next day after signing the historic agreement with Pakistan President Ayub Khan. Of late, more Indian visitors, both in groups and in smaller numbers are visiting this ancient country that has so much to offer for visitors.
A direct 3.5-hour flight connects Tashkent with New Delhi by their national carrier Uzbekistan Airlines that operates every day with modern aircraft. Due to flight delays I could land in Tashkent at a convenient time which made it easier to get a taxi to the city, with unfortunately, the usual haggling for fixing the rate. My small B&B was located conveniently near a metro station. Tashkent boasts of a three-line metro system quite efficient and some stations are nicely decorated. A few of them have chandeliers and some have artwork but one cannot compare with the Russian metro stations. Trains are punctual, fast and reliable. But the rides don’t come cheap. One has to buy plastic coins from the metro station counters. There is no ‘smart card’ that could be used like in most of the metro station networks elsewhere. The signs at the stations are mostly in Uzbek language that poses a challenge to visitors. But people are friendly and helpful and guide the visitor to the right platform. Another problem faced by elders and handicapped persons is that there are very few escalators leading to the station platform. That means one has to climb up or climb down a flight of steps to access the platform.
The local currency is Soms which is about 8300 Soms to the US dollar. Very few coins are in use while notes of various denominations are used in trade and commerce for daily needs. A few banks and ATMs do exist in the city. But money exchange is only at a few banks which have elaborate procedure for exchanging currency.
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