Ferghana Valley Travel Guide

The Ferghana Valley is a Central Asian region in the eastern territory of Uzbekistan, northwestern Tajikistan and southwestern Kirghizstan. It is a tremendously fertile valley, 400-500 m above sea level. For its beauty and picturesque view, the Fergana Valley gained the title “the pearl of Central Asia”. The Tien-Shan and Gissar-Alay mountains surround the Fergana Valley and the Syrdarya River flows along the western border of the valley.

The Fergana Valley has always played an important role in the history and culture of Central Asia. The ancient Chinese annals at the end of the 2nd century BC had already contained information concerning the Davan state. In the middle ages, it was one of the leading appendages of Maverannakhr. The ruins of ancient towns’ of the bronze epoch as well as the monuments from the Iron Age and medieval times, testify to the fact that the valley had been the center of many different civilizations.

Main points of interest in Ferghana Valley

FerghanaFerghana is a city in eastern Uzbekistan, situated to the south of the Fergana Valley, 420 km to the east of Tashkent (the capital of Uzbekistan). The population of Fergana is 200 000 of people. M.D. Skobelev, the first military general, founded this city under the name of New Margilan. Currently, Fergana is one of the biggest industrial regions of Uzbekistan with over 40 industrial enterprises. It takes second place in the republic after Tashkent for its heavy industrial output. During independence, numerous newly erected buildings appeared. Large-scale parks with plenty of fountains and lawns for recreation of locals and visitors alike are spread throughout the central part of the city.

Margilan is one of the most ancient towns of Uzbekistan. It is not known who and when Margilan was founded,Margilan but it is known from ancient scripts that in the 10th century AD Margilan was the biggest city in the Fergana Valley. The great general, Zagiriddin Muhammad Babur, in his novel the “Baburnoma”, emphasized that Margilan was famous for its orchards, sweet pomegranates and delicious apricots. In 2006 Margilan celebrated its 2000th anniversary. In the 11th century, the biggest city of Ferghana at that time, was celebrated as the center of the silk industry. Merchants exported authentic silk fabrics to Egypt, Greece, Bagdad, Khorasan and Kashghar through the Great Silk Road. Even today one may refer to Margilan as the silk capital of Uzbekistan. The famous Khan-atlas (satin) woven and dyed by hands according to the ancient techniques is produced in Margilan.

AndijanAndijan is one of the biggest cities on the crossroad of the Great Silk Road, located in the southeast part of the Fergana Valley. The town is surrounded with lofty mountains and hills. In ancient times, caravan-sarais were built along the routes of trading caravans, on the banks of Andijansai and Karadarya rivers. Gradually they had united into the town of Andijan where handicrafts and agriculture flourished. The exact date of Andijan’s emergence is not known, however, it is considered that the city was founded before Christ on the territory traversing the Great Silk Road. It is the homeland of Zahiriddin Muhammad Babur, the founder of the Great Mogul State, a poet and writer, and the author of the well-known “Baburname”. The poet and enlightener Abdulkhamid Chulpan whose historic merits are invaluable, was also born here. Among the other Uzbek cities Andijan is distinguished by more than usual seismic activity. The earthquake of 1902 was the most destructive for the city. Such seismic phenomena made it difficult to erect multi-storied buildings in Andijan. Today Andijan is a big industrial center. For the last decade new modern buildings, keeping the national traditions and modern architectural structures decorate the city (i.e. auto service centers and tennis courts). The streets are well organized and wide.

Namangan is also an ancient city emerging in 1610 on the Namangankan settlement (salty mine). NamanganNamangan was located near a small salty lake. In 1757 Namangan became the administrative center of the Namangan region. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, this city was the second most populated and cultivated the most cotton in the Fergana Valley. During the same period the cult structures such as the Khodja Amin mausoleum and the Mullo-Kirghiz madrassah were erected. Presently Namangan is the center of light industrial and food industries. The city is covered in verdure of orchards and parks. The ruins of the ancient town of Aksikent are located near Namangan city. The latest archaeological research demonstrated that Aksikent was a town in which, unlike the early ones, had citadel and powerfully fortified walls. Excavations showed that handicrafts were also developed in Aksikent.

RishtanRishtan is a town in the east of Uzbekistan. It is the administrative centre of Rishtan district within Fergana province. Being one of the cities on the Great Silk Road, from ancient times Rishtan was known as the biggest Central Asian centre of unique glazed ceramics production. The town was first mentioned in a treatise on geography Khudud al-Alam min al-Mashrik ila-l-Magrib (Book about the world bounds from East to West) by an unknown author. Scientist date the information presented in this book to the early 9th century. In later period the city was repeatedly mentioned in the works  by Arabic geographers and travelers such as Mukhammad ibn Akhmad Shams al-Din al-Mukaddasi, Abdul-Kasim- Mukhamed (ibn Haukal), Abu-Iskhak (Istakhri), and many others. However, it is known that urban settlement existed in the outskirts of modern Rishtan long before the 9th century. During the construction of the Great Fergana Canal in 1939 to the north from the city there were excavated residential quarters and craftsmen workshops  of an urban settlement and a part of a fortification wall as well as various household items dating back to the beginning of the 1th century. In the late 20th century there were carried out excavation works to the north from Rishtan in the ancient cemetery “Sokhibi Khidoya”.

Kuva is one of the oldest towns of the Fergana Valley. Ruins of town structures of the 3rd century BC Kuvawere discovered here. Archaeologists excavated and investigated a Buddhist temple built through the 6th -8thcenturies AD. The large blossoming oasis of the Fergana valley with the most fertile soil in Central Asia and wonderful climate is rightfully called the Golden Valley. In 1998-1999 the archeologists found the remnants of  dwellings and  workshops  as well as  kilns for glazing ceramics and lots of  ceramic, bronze and glass articles dating to the 9th-12th centuries. By the time of Arabic invasion the city was encircled with a thick fortification wall made of rammed earth called pahsa and had two fortresses: Kalai-Bolo (upper fortress) and Kalai-Poyon (lower fortress). In the early medieval times there was Kuba town on the site of the settlement. During the excavation works of 1956-1958 there was found a Buddhist temple dating to the 7th-8th centuries. The temple was decorated with statues of Buddha and other deities. The Arabic invasion  gave rise to Islamisation and later Turkisation of the area. The Arabic sources of the 10th century mention Kuva as a city consisting of three parts; citadel, shakhristan, protected by outer wall with towers and gates, and rabad. The remnants of the city constructions survived to the present day.

KokandKokand is situated in the west of the Fergana Valley and is one of the most ancient towns of Uzbekistan. The Great Silk Road played an important role in the development of this town and its craftsmanship. The first written transcripts about Khukand or Havokand (former names of Kokand) are available in annals found from the 10th century. In antiquity, Kokand was the second religious center of Central Asia after Bukhara. There were more than 35 madrassahs and hundreds of mosques throughout the territory of Kokand. The last khan of Kokand, Khudoyar, left the brightest trace among all the rulers of this area. In 1845, at the age of 12 he became son-in law of Mingboshi Musulmonkul. The latter enthroned him. From 1845 till 1876, before the Russian annexation of Kokand, Khudoyar khan had lost his throne four times and four times he had won it back. During his reign, large construction works of the town were undergone. Mosques, madrassahs and guzars were erected during this time. In 1868, the khan of Kokand was given the status of vassal by the Russian Empire as per an earlier agreement. This constituted the end of Kokand’s khanate history that had existed nearly 170 years. Kokand preserved its ancient structures and divided the city into new and old parts. The new town was constructed in the 19th century with many industrial enterprises, administrative buildings, banks, and mansions of various manufacturers. The old part of the town was preserved as the khan’s palace called Urda. The monuments of traditional architecture, mosques, and madrassahs and memorial buildings of the 19th –20th centuries are strewn throughout the old city of Kokand.

Chust is one of the ancient settlements of Fergana valley. In 2005 the city celebrated its 3500th anniversary. ChustIn the environs of this city there was found an ancient settlement dating to the Bronze Age. From time immemorial, Chust has been the most popular centre of handicrafts, mostly knives and skullcap production. At international exhibitions in Montreal (Canada), Izmir(Turkey) skullcaps from Chust grace expositions. Every Saturday seamstresses come to the bazaar to show off their craftsmanship. Usually it takes one month for a seamstress to make one skullcap, though a skillful needlework master can do this within 10 days. In Uzbekistan, the art of making knives rates highly. A knife (pichok) designed by a Chust master is a real work of art. Every year more than 500,000 souvenir knives are manufactured by Chust blacksmiths. Traditional Chust knifes are distinguished by peculiar décor which the local masters copy over hundreds of years. The blade of pichok has a wedge-shaped cross-section and a back contracting to the edge. The blade is rather wide, which is emphasized by a thin up-shifted handle with upper side extending the knife back line. The handle is decorated with coloured rings ‘kyoz’ which are made of bone, mother-of-pearl, nonferrous or precious metal or plastic. The city industry is also represented by ginnery. The city features the museum devoted to Uzbek poet and scholar Mukhammadsharif Sufizade.

PapPap is the first town on your way to Fergana valley. Pap is the centre of Pap district within Namangan province located in norty-western part of Fergana valley. At a distance of 2 km from the town, from east to south-west there flows the Syr Darya river.  Pap is seperated from Tashkent by Kamchyk  mountain pass on the crest of Kuramin mountain range (Western Tien Shan). The road that runs from Tashkent to Pap across the pass is 200 km in length. At a shorter distance to Pap is Chust which is   situated in 16 km to north-east. Fifty-five kilometers east is Namangan, and forty-five kilometers south-west lies the city of Kokand. Pap got its status of a town in 1982.  Pap was first mentioned in the manuscripts “Khudud al-alm” (“World boundaries”) dating back to the 9th-10th centuries.

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