Tatarstan: Where East meets West

Sep 19 2013, 14:11 IST
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Majestic Kul Sharif mosque makes Kazan's spiritual experience complete. (AP) Majestic Kul Sharif mosque makes Kazan's spiritual experience complete. (AP)
SummaryMajestic Kul Sharif mosque makes Kazan's spiritual experience complete.

Tatarstan, a state under the Russian federation, where East meets West is fast-emerging as a popular destination for Asian and European tourists for its exotic locales, warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage.

It serves as a melting pot for Eastern and Western cultures and that is what makes it an attractive destination for people across the globe.

Tatarstan is a federal subject of Russia lying between the Volga and the Kama rivers, and extends east to the Ural Mountains.

The state, which gets thousands of tourists from Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, is now looking to attract Indians.

India has emerged as the world's fastest-growing outbound market and in absolute numbers it is second only to China. The number of Indians travelling overseas is set to rise from around 15 million to 50 million by 2020, according to estimates.

"We are looking forward to having Indians coming over and experience our culture and heritage," Aydar Khasanov, Tatarstan's Ministry of Youth, Sports and Tourism official, told a group of visiting Indian journalists.

Khasanov said Indian visitors could visit major tourist attractions in Kazan, Bolgar, Elabuga and Sviyazhsk.

Kazan, a city with more than 1.1 million people, is one of the most populous cities in the Russian Federation.

It is a vibrant city with an eclectic mix of Eastern and Western cultures and has almost an equal number of Christians and Tatar Muslims, making it one of the most secular and multi-cultural cities in the world.

Visiting Kazan is an enthralling experience with places like the Kazan Kremlin, a world heritage site. The city's Islamic heritage is spell-binding and Kazan is often referred to as the 'Mecca of the North'.

A special monument in the city is the Kul Sharif mosque with a majestic church near it, which makes the spiritual experience complete.

The turquoise-blue domed Kul Sharif mosque, built between 1996 and 2005, is a remarkable piece of architecture and is named after Seid Kul Sharif, the imam of the namesake mosque, situated on the territory of the Kremlin at the time of the Khanate of Kazan.

The leaning tower of Syuyumbike named in honour of the last tsarina of Kazan is also a rare sight to behold.

The old Tatar district, the Baumana Street often dubbed as the 'Kazan broadway' and the city malls make Kazan a tourist's paradise.

Kazan is also the sports capital of Russia and just hosted the 2013 Summer Universiade in which 162 countries participated. It is slated to host the

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