Fergana Valley - the Golden Valley
Today Fergana valley is one of the prosperous regions of Uzbekistan. Fertile oases enclose the region. Along the northern boundary of the valley there flows the Syr Darya River, which is formed by the confluence of two smaller rivers - the Karadarya and the Naryn. Their waters feed three main canals - the Big Fergana Canal, the Southern Fergana Canal and the Northern Fergana Canal - the first nation-wide constructions of the twentieth century. The big cities - Fergana, Kokand, Andijan and Namangan are located in the oases of the valley.
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Fergana Valley History
For its fecundity and picturesque scenery Fergana valley is rightly called a pearl of Central Asia. For the most part the valley is surrounded by the Tyan Shan, Hissar and Alay mountains, and only in the west it is open for the Syr Darya River
Fergana valley has always ranked high in the history and culture of Central Asia. Thus Fergana state Davan was first mentioned in the Chinese chronicles, while in the Middle Ages it was one of the leading principalities of Movarounnakhr. The trace of ancient settlements as well as medieval monuments serve the evidence of the fact that in the ancient times this valley was the habitat of many civilizations.
Margilan, one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia, remembers the invasion of Alexander the Great. It is known from the historical sources that this great conqueror raided the territory from Khodjent to Uzgen and on his way back he crossed the town, which later was named Margilan. In the 10th century Margilan was already the biggest city of Fergana Oasis and was famous for its silk fabrics, which along the Great Silk Road were delivered by merchants to Egypt and Greece, Bagdad, Khorasan and Kashgar. Today too we can call Margilan the silk capital of Uzbekistan. It is here that the famous "khan-atlas" fabrics, woven and dyed manually in accordance with the ancient techniques, are manufactured.
In 50 kilometres from Fergana there is a small town Rishtan. From the old days the citizens of Rishtan have been renowned for their ceramics. For over 800 years from generation to generation the craftsmen have imparted the secrets of producing ceramics from the local red clay and the glaze manufactured from the natural mineral dyes and ashes of the mountain herbs.
Big shallow dishes "lyagan", bowls "shokosa", pots for water, vessels for milk, decorated with ornaments made in "ishkor" glaze characteristic of turquoise and azure colours - all these made the craftsmen from Rishtan world-known and their works decorate numerous international exhibitions, museum displays, private collections.
For a long time Kokand was the main city of Fergana valley. The first written evidence about the town of Khavikand can be found in the 10th century chronicles where it was mentioned as a town located on the Great Silk Road and famous for its crafts. In 18-19th centuries it was the capital of powerful Kokand khanate, the state that dominated most of the territory of modern Uzbekistan and contiguous states. Kokand was a big religious center. In the years of its prosperity there were 35 madrassahs and 100 mosques here. Unfortunately, the majority of them were ruined in the course of time or as a result of earthquakes, or by the Soviet power.
Among the Fergana valley cities Namangan, the homeland of Uzbek poet Mashrab, stands apart. Not far from Namangan there are the ruins of ancient town Aksikent. The archeological research proves that the town had the citadel and thick outer walls. The town possessed an advanced trade and handicraft industry. Aksikent was the capital of Fergana valley up to the 13th century. In the later period it was destroyed by the Mongols and in the 17th century strong earthquake finally demolished the town. In 1875 it joined Russia. At that period of time the foundation of a new city was laid in accordance with the regular city-plan. This new part had to be separated from the old part by the fort, which traditionally became the main point from which there radiated the city streets. At the beginning of the 20th century Namangan was the second city in Fergana valley as regards number of population and volumes of cotton processing. It was at this period of time that religious buildings such as Khoja-Amin mausoleum and Mullo-Kyrgyz madrassah and many others were constructed.
In the vicinity of Namangan there is another big city Andijan, homeland of Zakhiriddin Bobur, a poet, the author of famous epic work "Babur-name", a statesman, a military leader who conquered India and formed the dynasty of Great Mogols.
The age of Andijan makes it one of the most ancient cities of Fergana valley. Already in the first century A.D. the city was part of Kushan's kingdom. In 30 kilometres from the modern urban area there lies the site of ancient settlement Erish - the capital of ancient Davan state, which was famous for its swift-footed stallions. It was from here that these fast horses were delivered as a very precious thing to the court of Chinese emperors. In the 9th-10th centuries Andijan became the domain of Samanid dynasty. In the 15th century it was ruled over by Bobur, the descendant of great Temur.
In 1902 Andijan suffered a terrible earthquake and subsequently it was built anew. Of all the architectural monuments of the past only Jami madrassah has been preserved.
Andijan today is one of the biggest industrial centres of Uzbekistan. Many modern industrial enterprises have appeared here in recent years: a big Uzbek-Korean joint venture manufacturing the cars, an engineering plant, cotton manufacture, textile factory. The city is surrounded with fruit gardens, cotton and wheat fields.
Fergana valley - the vast prosperous oasis with the most fertile lands in Central Asia and the finest climate - is rightly called Golden Valley.