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Silk-road city of Turkestan: A potential tourist destination for Indians

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The city of Turkestan in Central Asia’s biggest state Kazakhstan, recently proclaimed as the spiritual capital of the ‘Turkic World’, can emerge as a major tourist destination for Indians nearer home.

The opening of a new airport in Turkestan in the south of Kazakhstan provides an opportunity to visit a city that has been growing in popularity recently. Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital, is easily reachable via direct flights from Delhi and Turkestan is just over one hour by flight from Almaty.

Turkestan actually has deep cultural roots and is considered one of Eurasia’s most historical places with an archaeological record dating back to the 4th century. The region was once part of the Silk Road, making it a focal point for cultural exchange and global trade.

The city also serves as a spiritual hub, attracting pilgrims from across the region. Their main destination is the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, the Sufi Sheikh of Turkestan, who lived here during the 11th-century.

The decision to proclaim Turkistan as a Spiritual Capital of the Turkic World was taken at a virtual Summit of the Turkic Council convened by Kazakhstan this week. The Kazakh President expressed confidence that the Council will convene as usual once the pandemic is over

The Turkic Council, formally the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, was founded Oct. 3, 2009 in Nakhchivan at the initiative of Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Its members are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan and Hungary as an observer state.

The summit was initially supposed to take place in Turkistan but due to the worsening of the epidemiological situation with Covid-19, it was held online.

The heads of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the Prime Minister of Hungary and Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev attended the virtual summit, where they discussed the cooperation among the Turkic Speaking States, exchange views on regional and international issues affecting the interests of the Turkic world.

The leaders at the Summit supported the initiatives of Nazarbayev on the Council’s status and elevating it to the status of an organization, and the importance of adopting the strategic document Turkic Vision – 2040, to be adopted at the next Summit due to take place this fall in Turkey.

The region and its center in Turkestan, which is turning into a modern city while preserving its historic heritage, have received significant attention after first Kazakh President Nazarbayev signed a decree in June 2018 making Turkestan the regional center of the newly renamed Turkestan Region, which was previously named South Kazakhstan.

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