The heartland of Uzbekistan, as the valley of Fergana is known, is the densely populated part of the country with a majority of ethnic Uzbeks. Fergana is the most fertile part of Uzbekistan, with large agricultural output. The Chatkal range of the Tian Shan in the north surrounds the valley, with the Pamir-Alai in the south from where the Syr Darya River starts flowing through the valley. So the region looks like a huge bowl. Fergana valley is considered to be a big blossoming oasis of Central Asia. That’s why Fergana Valley is called “The Golden Valley”. The valley’s best-known son is probably Zaheruddin Mohammad Babur (Timur’s great-great-great grandson), the last Timurid and the first Moghul, the founder of India’s Moghul Empire in the 16th century. The valley of Fergana was renown for its swift and intelligent horses, bred since ancient times. During the reign of emperor Wudi, Chinese are known to have sent several expeditions for acquiring the prized horses. The brisk trading on the Great Silk Road brought Fergana into the limelight of history. The legions of Alexander the Great skirted the valley in the southern part and after subduing the land, he is said to have founded Alexandria Eskhata. Later on having withstood various ruling dynasties, the most flourishing period of the history of Fergana opens with the settling of Mongol hordes grouped into various fiefdoms. The Khanate of Kokand became the base of powerful Uzbek clans with control as far as Yarkand in China. From the early 19th century, the Khanate of Kokand expanded far beyond Fergana into Central Asia’s third power. The powerful Khanate crumbled under the weight of its mismanagement with the Russians giving the final blow when it was incorporated into the territory of Tsarist Russia. The cities of the Fergana valley were taken by the Tsar’s troops in 1876 with little effort and the Khanate was dissolved. The Bolsheviks succeeded Tsarist colonisation in 1924. The overall territory of Fergana Valley is 77,900 square km with the population of 9 million people. The valley of Fergana is a home for several historical towns as follows: Margilan: it is known for the best of Silk factory – Yodgorlik weaving the traditional methods. Rishtan: is the pottery town for the traditional blue glazed floral designs. Andijan: the city of Babur, his birthplace -the museum and house of Ark Icchi and the grand bazaar of Andijan. Kokand: is the seat of Khanate – Palace of the last ruler Khudayar Khan.The road Fergana Valley via Kamchik pass.
Fergana City is the administrative centre of Fergana region. Its territory is 70 square km and the population is 230,000 people. The history of the city dates back to 1877. It was decided to build a new city 12 km from the old town of Margilan. Initially it was named as new Margilan, later Skobelev. In 1924 the city was named as Fergana. At present the city is an important industrial centre of Uzbekistan. Regarding the capacity of production Fergana stands on the second place in Uzbekistan after Tashkent. Al Fergani park in Fergana city.
Margilan (1st century BC). Margilan’s best-known son is Zaheruddin Mohammad Babur, the founder of India’s Moghul Empire in the 16th century. As legend says the name of Margilan is linked with the invasion of Alexander the Great to Central Asia in the 4th century BC Alexander the Great had passed the way from Khojand to Uzgen and back. During that campaign he visited twice the settlement that was long after named Margilan. Local people met Alexander with bread and chicken. He liked the meal and asked the name of it. He received a reply: “Murginon” which meant “chicken and bread”. From that memorable day the town was named as “Margilan”. Since old days Margilan has been famous for its wonderful and fine silk. Via the Great Silk Road traders brought Margilanian silk to Baghdad, Cairo and Athens. Nowadays the population of Margilan is 165,000 people with the territory of 50 square km. Margilan is the silk production center of Uzbekistan. The souvenir factory “Yodgorlik” is still the only one in Central Asia where original handmade methods of silk production have remained. Silk fabric manufactured here is considered as one of the best in the international market.Fergana valley with large agricultural output.
Rishton is 50 km to the west of Ferghana City. Since ancient times Rishton was famous for its ceramics. There are deposits of red clay, natural minerals and abundance of mountainous vegetation that is needed for painting process. Rishton artisans became famous all over the world for their technology of ceramic production.
Kokand City is situated in the western part of the Ferghana Valley and it was its capital from 1709 to 1876. The Great Silk Road had played a major role in the development of the city. The territory of the Kokand Khanate included eastern part of present-day Uzbekistan. There were 29 khans in the history of the Khanate. The most outstanding ruler was its last khan – Khudoyar. From 1845 to1876, just before the annexation of the Kokand Khanate to Russia, Khudoyar-Khan was the ruler of the state. Many mosques and madrasahs were built during Khudoyar-Khan’s reign.
Andijan is situated in the southeast of the Fergana Valley and surrounded by high mountains and hills. The history of the city goes back to the 9th century AD. In ancient times the Great Silk Road passed through this town, which was known as the eastern gate of the Fergana Valley. In the 10th century Andijan was the part of the Samanids Empire. In 1483 Zaheruddin Babur was born here, and Andijan became the capital of the Fergana State and its major Silk Road trading center. Later Babur had to go to Afghanistan and he ruled Kabul for two decades, then in 1526 he marched into Delhi and founded the Great Moghul Empire in India. The dynasty of the Babur’s had ruled India for more than 300 years. The Babur Literary Museum is situated behind the bazaar, occupying the site of the royal apartments, where Babur lived and studied in Ark-Icсhi, the town’s citadel that exists no more. Juma Mosque & Madrasah – built in the 19th century, is said to be the only building survived the 1902 earthquake. It is also a regional museum with historical exhibits on display.
Fergana Valley Main Attractions
Khudoyar Khan Palace – was built in 1860 -1872 in magnificent style with seven courtyards and 113 rooms. Only two courtyards and 19 rooms have survived. The Palace occupied four hectares. Tsarist troops blew up its fortifications. At present the palace houses the museum of history. Narbutabey Madrasah (1799)- the largest religious school in Kokand was closed by the Bolsheviks, reopened again in the years of independence of the republic, instructing nearly 80 students. Madari Khan Mausoleum – was built on the main cemetery in 1825 for the khan’s mother by the best architects of the Kokand Khanate. Dakhma-i-Shokhon (Grave of the Kings) – was the family mausoleum of the Kokand khans, built during the rule of Umar Khan (1809-1822) who was also buried here. The mausoleum, as well as a prayer place, is surrounded by a beautiful fence. The entrance doors are decorated with carved inscriptions in Arab, taken from Koran, as well as verses written by Umar Khan himself. For a long time, the mausoleum was dilapidated and turned to ruins. In 1971 it was completely reconstructed by local handicraftsmen.
Yodgorlik Silk Factory – the factory is located in Margilan, a 2,000-year-old city on the Great Silk Road, in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan not only keeps the “silk” in the “Silk Road”, it gives great inspiration. Watch as the silk is carefully spun from the cocoons of the factory’s own mulberry trees, and then washed and dyed, and brought together in exquisite fabrics for either clothing or personal items, or for silk carpets. People toil for months, or a year, to produce a silk rug of quality no longer thought possible, and yet the prices are, for all this labour, remarkably low. Margilan is a wonderful setting for this craftsmanship, and it reminds us that all progress in our machine age must continue to be inspired by the artistry and craftsmanship of such perfectionists as those who continue to ply their craft at the looms of Yodgorlik.
Saeed Ahmad-Hodja Madrasah –
Juma Mosque –
Rishtan Art Ceramics Factory –
Rustam Usmanov’s Workshop –
Khonakhan Mosque –
(See our tour: Tour MTH 10. Across all Uzbekistan)