Latakia, Syria, Oct 24 (UNI) Punjabi bhangra reverberated at the grand amphitheatre of Emperor Justinian of the Byzantine period and dancers and artists mesmerised an elite audience by their dazzling performances at the conclusion of the week-long Silk Road Festival here this week.
Shehnai maestros and Langa sufi musicans of Rajasthan joined Syrian, Iranian, Turkish and Spain performers to enthral ministers, governors and travellers by their soulful and soul-searching renderings at the rendezevous 2th century amphitheatre.
It was Syrian Tourism Ministry that took the intiative to promote the Silk Road for tourism as the route, which connects three continents-Asia, Europe and Africa, is dotted with citadels, churches, archaeological places of the period of Alexander the Great and temples of Palmyra era. The response is overwhelming as tourist inflow has doubled in the past five years touching more than five million, Syrian Tourism Minister Dr Saadallah Agha Al Kalaa told UNI at the concluding function on last Monday.
He said the festival is held to commemorate Syria's role since time immemorial, as a meeting place for international trade caravans.
The Silk Road witnessed bustling traders, carefree tourists and devoted religious believers and missionariers. The 6440-km long route linking China and Syria passed through a number of countries, including India, Iran, Iraq and other nations.
The road was literally built by steps of traders and nomads in wild boundless deserts and wastelands and archaeological inputs indicate that as early as second century BC this route existed for exchange of good and merchandise.
Dr Agha Al Kalaa said that frequent trade and cultural exchanges made this great route a common historic legacy of many nations and brought prosperity in the region. While Chinese exported silk that became popular cloth for Roman rulers, Indians mainly sold spices and other commodities.
However, with the advent of Mongols, nations connected with the road witnessed death and destruction. The barbaric Mongols established an unprecedented gigantic empire.They destroyed numerous prosperous and bustling cities. During the chaotic years of its history, the Silk Road was full of soldiers and refugees.
In the ancient times, trade caravans were cities on the move, brimming with all kinds of human activities. In these lived poets, travellers, merchants and even scholars. Starting from China the caravans were joined by people from many nations as they progressed. They took three different ways, spending three years on the way to meet in Syrian Palmyra.
The Minister said Syria wants to present to the world the way in which ancient people managed to get over their differences through the creative interaction among civilisatiopns, where Syria by its geographical location, was its centre and axis. Through tourism "we want to correct the incorrect images of Arab and Islamic world", he further stated.
UNI SMA RP SB BST1421