Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and Unique Uzbekistan: Namangan Region I

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Welcome to Namangan region!

Posted by Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel on Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Namangan region is an ancient corner of Uzbekistan, which is confirmed by various archaeological finds and architectural monuments that tell about the primitive way of life of the local population, as well as about the monuments of the Bronze and Stone Ages.

The Namangan Region. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

The Namangan region is one of the most fertile lands of Uzbekistan, located in the Fergana Valley, bordered in the west by the Tashkent region, in the south and east with the Fergana and Andijan regions.

The city of flowers Namangan stands out for its historical flavor, cozy streets, and old buildings. Here you can find traditional one-story houses and unusual buildings.

The City of Namangan. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

In the vicinity of Namangan, there is the ancient village of Chadak. It is located in the valley of the Chadaksay River. The village is more than four thousand years old. Despite such a venerable age, the village managed to preserve the original traditional look of the Central Asian village.

The Weeping Rock in Chadak village. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

Chadak is famous for its gardens, walnut groves, and springs. But the most important attraction of the village is the Weeping Rock. The place resembles an oasis in the middle of the desert in its picturesqueness. In ancient times, trade caravans stopped here and military roads passed. The place was the perfect stop to rest after a long journey and get a supply of crystal-clear water.

Alexander the Great passed through the village with his army. Scientists suggest that he stayed here for a long time to recuperate. After the Macedonians, the place became popular and became one of the centers of the Kushan kingdom.

The Weeping Rock is a small rock formation with a snowfield at the top. Water flows down the rock and it seems like the rock is letting tears through the moss and aquatic plants. According to legend, the rock is a girl in love who, by the will of fate, had to part with her lover. Unable to survive the separation, the girl turned into “an ever-crying rock”.

An interesting fact is that the flowing water does not freeze even in winter and is considered curative. There is a small depression inside the rock. You can go there and make a wish, which is what lovers or single people do in the hope of meeting their love.

You may have heard of such a mountainous place as Nanay. Only a few people know that on the map of Uzbekistan you can see two villages with this name.

Nanay village in the Tashkent region. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

The first village is located in the Bostanlyk district of the Tashkent region and is located in the south-eastern part of the Charvak reservoir. The second one is located not far from Namangan in the Yangikurgan region.

Nanay village in the Tashkent region. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

There is still no consensus as to why the two villages have the same name. According to one of the legends, part of the Nanai population of Namangan left their native places. Wandering in the mountains, people settled in a valley on the left bank of the Pskem River.

Nanay village in the Tashkent region. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

According to another legend, the mountain village of Nanay is one of the oldest and has existed since the time of the conquest campaigns of Alexander the Great. The village was built as a temporary transshipment base for the great commander and his soldiers. This is evidenced by the found settlement of Nanaitepa (another name for Dinaptepa), in which the remains of a fortress with a defensive wall and a tower were discovered. Why some of the residents left this place and moved to the Fergana Valley is still not clear.

Also, numerous disputes are ongoing about the etymology of the toponym “Nanay”. According to one version, the name “Nanay” is derived from the word “Nona” – the pagan goddess of fertility. According to other versions, the word comes from “Nana” – a medicinal herb, or from “non hai”, which means “there is bread.” The latest version is especially suitable for Namangan Nanai, because, as you know, the Namangan region is famous for plant growing, including grain.

Today, both sites are the most interesting places to visit. Charvak Nanay has retained its traditional appearance of a mountain village. Local residents are engaged in beekeeping and folk craft. Mountain honey from Nanay, due to its unique composition, is considered a valuable and environmentally friendly product. Residents make skullcaps from folk crafts. The village also organizes excursions to the ancient settlement and to the local shrine – the Goib-Ota Mazar. In addition, you can rent a trestle bed, see a huge grotto, washed from the west by the Charvak reservoir, and a small mountain lake.

Big changes are expected in Namangan Nanay in the near future. Soon the urban settlement will be rebuilt into a modern tourist resort. Recreation areas have already operated on this territory, but the facilities have been empty for several decades. In this regard, a resolution was adopted in which it was decided to turn the village into a tourist eco-center. Camping sites, camps, guest houses, entertainment facilities and much more will be created here.

In the city of Chust, entire once residential areas were found, which were attributed to the culture of the first millennium BC. The city was the capital of the Kushan kingdom in 4-3 centuries BC with a developed economy and handicrafts.

The cities located on the Great Silk Road very quickly became centers of trade and culture. Some of the small villages turned into large administrative and economic centers.

Another famous place in the Namangan region, the city of Akhsikent with huge fortresses was built in the coastal region of the Syr Darya in the 3rd century BC. It was the capital of the ancient state of Fergana and one of the main cities of the Great Silk Road. Historical sources, especially Baburname, contain a lot of information about the significance of this city.

The city of Akhsikent. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

For the first time, the name of the city was mentioned in Arabic language literature, by such writers as Mukaddasi, Istakhri, and Ibn Khurdadbeh. Their description of the ancient city largely helped to carry out archaeological excavations in the study of the settlement. The city itself was located on the right bank of the Syrdarya River, now this is the territory of the Namangan region.

During the excavations, it was found out that Akhsikent was formed approximately in the II century BC and was one of the largest cities of Ancient Fergana – the state of Davan.

The results of the excavations in Akhsikent. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

It is known that in 103, the Chinese army in the amount of 60 thousand people tried to conquer Akhsikent. For forty days they held the city under siege, leaving the inhabitants without access to water and food supplies.

The area of ​​Akhsikent was about 30 hectares and the city consisted of a citadel, the main urban part (shahristan), an area with handicraft centers (rabad). It was a well-developed and fortified city. It was separated from the citadel by a large wall, and a deep moat ran around the outer wall.

Trade and crafts flourished in Akhsikent, handicraft production was carried out. In addition, the city had a famous center for the production of crucible steel.

Akhsikent was ruled by its own dynasty and it was in power until the 6th century AD. Then there was a conquest by the Arabs, but even after the arrival of the Arabs, the city continued to be the largest trade and handicraft center.

The city of Akhsikent. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

Akhsikent reached its dawn in the X-XII centuries. There was a Friday mosque – Juma and a festive mosque – Namazgokh, the emir’s palace, a prison, a large city rabad surrounded by a defensive wall.

The water supply was established in the city, for which there were hauzes in the city, and the gates were decorated with flower beds and gardens.

Outside the city walls, were seasonal bazaars and gardens, and on the other side of the Syr Darya, there were pastures and meadows.

It is also worth noting that the conducted archaeological excavations made it possible to conclude that the ruins of the settlement belong to three main cultures: ancient, pre-Mongol, and Timurid.

Despite the destruction of the city by the Mongols in the 13th century, Akhsikent continued to be the leading handicraft center for the production of glazed and unglazed ceramics. Bowls with original paintings in greenish-turquoise shades were found on the territory of the settlement. They also found various dishes, vessels decorated with compositions, fragments with images of people. Terracotta hearths were excavated in shakhristan. All finds are of great interest for the study of medieval Northern Fergana.

The Akhsikent excavation site. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

In the 15th century, Umar-Sheikh-Mirza, Babur’s father, chose Akhsikent as his main residence. But in 1620 there was a strong earthquake and the city was completely destroyed. The surviving population moved to neighbor Namangan. This is how one of the most magnificent and richest cities in Central Asia went down.

Today, about 60 hectares of ruins have survived, making them the largest archaeological site in the Fergana Valley. Archaeologists have discovered a blacksmith’s workshop, the remains of a bath of the 10-13th centuries, soldiers’ rooms, a mosque, defensive walls, underground irrigation networks, a quarter of artisans, and the residence of the rulers, the Ark.

An interesting monument of the past is located in Namangan – the mausoleum of Khoja Amin. According to legends, Khoja Amin, the heir of one of the most famous Tashkent sheikhs Shaikhantaur, is buried in the mausoleum.

The facade and dome of the mausoleum were built around the second half of the 18th century. To create it, the masters used traditional styles of Central Asian architecture.

After some time, the mosque was completed, but, unfortunately, only part of the mosque and part of the mausoleum have survived to this day.

The Khoja Amin mausoleum. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

Another interesting group of buildings, The Mavlon Buva complex was built in 1806. At the entrance to the mausoleum, there is a portal with niches on top and a pointed arch. Columns with large spiers rise on either side of the entrance.

The Mavlon Buva Complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

The interior is distinguished by oil paintings and ganch carvings. On one of the walls, there is a drawing of floral ornaments with geometric inserts, which is intertwined with lines from poems. Mavlon Buva himself was a famous Namangan poet, and the paintings on the walls are poems dedicated to him.

If you are interested in statistics, then Namangan has great potential in the tourism sector. Among the operating tourist sites – 274 cultural heritage sites, of which: 24 places of worship, 152 archeological monuments, and 98 architectural monuments.

In addition, there are 22 parks in different districts. Wi-Fi zones are functioning at 80 tourist sites.

The locals have a lot to show their guests in order to organize exciting leisure activities, as well as where to place them. 28 tour operators, 25 hotels and 48 guest houses for 2013 beds, 40 minibusses, six guides-translators organize tourist services for local and foreign citizens in the region. The industry employs 1,900 people. Four tourist villages and 500 family guest houses have been organized.

Namangan is a blooming land. The city of Namangan stands out for its historical flavor, cozy streets, and old buildings.

In the city of Namangan, you can visit the amazing Valley of Legends park (“Afsonalar vodiysi” in Uzbek). Here, on an area of 155 hectares, there is a large three-story Crafts Center, a mosque, a hotel, cottages, shopping centers, an amusement park, water parks, waterfalls, and musical fountains. A great place to relax and learn about ancient folk crafts.

The Valley of Legends park in Namangan. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

If you go deep into the Namangan region, you can get to an amazing and picturesque area, where the Naryn river flows – the right tributary of the Syr Darya river. Here, in this area, the Naryn river merges with the Karadarya (left tributary) and forms the Syrdarya river.

There is a village nearby called Kurgoncha. Local residents are engaged in fishing, growing fruits, and those very Namangan aromatic apples, which are sung in the famous song “Apple trees of Namangan”.

Since ancient times, the Namangan region has been famous for its rich history and holy sources. Bibi Ona is considered to be the beginning of all the holy sources. Here is the archaeological site “Bibionamazor”, which belongs to the Late Bronze Age. The monument is located in the Chust region and covers an area of 4.5 hectares. On the territory of the ancient monument, there is a holy spring “Bibi Ona-Kainar Bulok”. Numerous finds were found near the source, confirming the ancient past of the monument.

Bibi Ona complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

From a historical point of view, Chust has always attracted the attention of historians and archaeologists. The emergence of the Chust culture dates back to the II millennium BC. “Bibionamazor” is located on a hill in a blooming valley, near the Gavasay River. Since the middle of the 20th century, the area has been explored by archaeologists M.E. Vorontsov, V.I. Sprishevsky, Y.A. Zadneprovsky. More than 500 square meters of the monument were studied under the leadership of academician Akhmadali Askarov. The research helped to establish the time of its appearance – the X-VIII centuries BC. It is believed that ancient agriculture flourished near the source and it is for this reason that this area has been considered sacred since ancient times.

Bibi Ona complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

As the legend says, Bibi Ona was a princess, and the water itself, named after her, has healing properties. People from all over the country come to the source to cure eye diseases and even infertility. The villagers say that if you immerse yourself in the water completely, you can cleanse yourself of bad thoughts and find peace.

Bibi Ona complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

Another shrine, the shrine of Bibi Naim is located in the Chartak region. There is a reservoir with crystal clear water, at the bottom of which even grains of sand are visible. In the outline of the reservoir, you can see a giant palm. The reservoir is located at the foot of the tomb of Bibi Naim Ona – the mother of Saint Sultan Uwais Qarani. This historical monument dates back to the XII-XIII centuries. Recently, reconstruction was carried out on the territory of the shrine. The territory was landscaped, all conditions were created for conducting pilgrimage rituals.

Bibi Naim Ona shrine. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

Uwais ibn Amir al-Qarani is a highly respected figure in Islam and Sufism. He lived during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Throughout his life, this saint traveled a lot and was engaged in the spread of Islam. The life and even death of Uwais Qarani gave rise to many legends. It is believed that after his death in the Battle of Siffin, the seven sultans could not decide who would bury Qarani. Each sultan prepared a coffin, and it turned out that the saint is in each of them.

Uwais Qarani complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

There are several places in the Muslim world where Qarani is believed to be buried. And one of these places is located in the Chartak district of the Namangan region. According to legend, he came to these lands to propagate Islam. It is also believed that Karani’s mother is buried here. When she died, the saint could not find water for her ablution for a long time, and then Karani turned to the Almighty with a request for water. Then he struck with his hand on dry ground and the holy spring scored at the same moment.

Uwais Qarani complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

Mazar on this place was erected in the 12-13th centuries and over time a large architectural complex appeared here, including a mosque, a mausoleum, and a museum. And in recent years, a large-scale reconstruction has been carried out here. Both the territory of the complex and the adjacent part were landscaped, a library and even a hotel were built. Today, all conditions have been created on the territory of the complex for performing pilgrimage rituals. The main entrance is decorated with a symbolic gate. In the central part, there is a reservoir, and the erected buildings of the mosque and the mausoleum are so skillfully decorated that they look like toys from a bird’s eye view.

Uwais Qarani complex. This photo is courtesy of the Namangan Regional Branch of the Tourism Department.

For several centuries, the shrine has been attracting pilgrims from all over the world, and now the most beautiful complex has become a place of solitude and peace.

About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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