Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and unique Uzbekistan: Qashqadaryo

Welcome to ancient and unique Uzbekistan!

Do you want to change the climate, enjoy the picturesque nature, unique flora and fauna, sunbathe on the coast of crystal lakes and noisy rivers and possibly ascend to the highest point of the planet? Now it has become real. Come to Uzbekistan! The original nature of this ancient country will open for you the whole palette of its colors of natural and pristine beauty.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Uzbekistan does not have an outlet to the sea and compensates for this with a huge number of beautiful lakes, natural and artificial reservoirs, and large rivers covering the whole of Central Asia.

One of the largest rivers in Uzbekistan is the Qashqadaryo, in the basin of which the Qashqadaryo region is located — one of the most ecologically clean regions of the country. The toponym Qashqadaryo has several meanings: “river lost in the sands” and “transparent, clean river”.

The administrative center of the region is the city of Karshi, which celebrated its 2700th anniversary in 2006.

Karshi. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

Due to the continental climate (sometimes even subtropical) on the slope of the Pamir-Alai Mountains, the air in the region is the purest, and the natural landscape fascinates with its flora and fauna. There are several well-known reserves in the region — Kitab, Hissar, and Kizil-Sai.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

It is here, in the foothill areas, that the colorful treasures of nature are grown — pomegranates, quince, peaches, pears, cherries, lemons. A huge abundance of vegetables, several types of nuts: pistachios, peanuts, walnuts. Spacious pastures allow for livestock breeding. And all this under the warm sun, among wide fields and ancient burial mounds.

In addition to the purest ecology and beautiful nature, the region is rich in ancient cities and architectural monuments. The homeland of the outstanding commander Amir Timur – the city of Shakhrisabz in the Qashqadaryo region is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

Uzbekistan is a distinctive country, with an interesting culture and different climatic conditions. In the very center of Central Asia, you can see deserts, lakes, and mountains. Traveling from Samarkand to Bukhara, the road passes through one of the most beautiful places in the Republic — through the Kitab Pass. Passing through this place, you should definitely make a stop to enjoy the incredible beauty of the Zarafshan Mountains.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

The Kitab Pass has been the shortest route at all times. Trade caravans of the Great Silk Road passed along it, the army of Alexander the Great was ferried, it was used by the Mongols, Arabs, and Persians. The most famous travelers passed through the pass, heading to be received by Amir Timur, among them was Ruy Gonzales De Clavijo from Spain. An interesting fact is that the Kitab Pass is not indicated on topographic maps, unlike the other nearby pass “Takhtakaracha”. The highest mark of the pass is 1600 meters above sea level.

The Kitab Pass is part of the Amankutan tract. This is a tract of magnificent beauty, in which you can see the majestic mountains and mesmerizing valleys of the ancient Kesh (Shakhrisabz).

The tract is rich in its flora and fauna. Some plants are listed in the Red Book. To preserve the unique natural landscape, rare trees, pines, and shrubs have been planted here. The territory of the tract is also famous for its unusual caves, bizarre stones, and water resources. In spring, the valley is especially beautiful, the green colors with the flowering mountain slopes are breathtaking.

After the pass, you will find yourself in one of the largest cities of Qashqadaryo — the city of Kitab. Not far from the city is the ancient city of Shakhrisabz, which is also full of wonders, like the whole of Qashqadaryo. Behind Shakhrisabz, climbing into the mountains, there are several unique mountain villages that have managed to preserve their traditional appearance in the modern world. There, not far from the mountain village of Miraki, is the Hissarak reservoir, which was built on the Aksu river. It seems to be hidden in a deep depression between the mountains.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

The high-mountainous village of Sarchashma is 23 km from the reservoir. It is located near the Hissar nature reserve on the border with the Republic of Tajikistan. This is an amazing place that has preserved the traditions and customs of ethnic Tajiks and Iranians. The population lives in adobe houses, is engaged in animal husbandry and folk art.

In the 5th-6th centuries, the Persians lived in this territory. It is believed that it was in this village that the Mukanna revolt, known as the “people in white robes” movement, took place. According to legend, one of the uprisings took place on Mount Sanam, which can be seen to this day in the village.

There are many beautiful places in the vicinity of the village, the people who live there are modest and hospitable, each resident is always happy to receive guests. Also, around the village, there are many springs and beautiful mountain slopes.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

The biggest natural wonder will be waiting behind the reservoir. Near the village of Suvtushar, you can see the waterfall of the same name. It is located in the Hissar reserve and flows into the river at an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level. It is almost impossible to take your eyes off such beauty! A noisy stream of water, turning into lush foam, looks especially impressive in summer. But in winter, the waterfall is no less beautiful, because it almost does not freeze and this is against the background of snow-capped mountains covered with soft snow.

All of the above wonders are far from all that the exciting Qashqadaryo can offer to the traveler enchanted by it. This region is one of the most mysterious and beautiful places in all of Central Asia.

The Kitab National Geological Park is located in the Kitab region on the spurs of the Zaravshan ridge. This is one of the most unique natural monuments. Tourists who come here can touch the history of the ancient world, see the course of the formation of the life of our planet.

The area of the reserve is 3938 hectares. The absolute heights are 1300-2650 m.

The territory of the reserve is cut through by the sais Obi-Safit, Khoja-Kurgan, Zinzilban, Novobak, Kushnova, forming beautiful corners of nature.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Kitab Reserve was established in 1979 with the aim of protecting and systematically studying objects that represent natural scientific monuments of the geological history of the Earth, as well as popularizing the ideas of nature conservation.

The territory of the reserve is composed of Paleozoic marine sedimentary formations. The main value of the reserve is its paleontological and stratigraphic sections. These are outcrops of rocks, where you can observe the sequence of their formation and study the fossils of ancient organic forms preserved in them.

The abundance and variety of fossil organic remains make the reserve’s sections extremely valuable for determining the age of sediments. The rocks of the reserve and the organic remains preserved in them tell us about the geological history of our planet, about the events that took place 470-330 million years ago. Remains of animals were preserved in rocks in the amount of 18 groups.

There are many beautiful places in the Kitab Geological Reserve. One of them is the Khoja-Kurgan gorge, along the sides of which the “Khoja-Kurgan” section is made. Almost all tree, shrub, and grass vegetation grow along with the noisy mountain sai, with numerous waterfalls.

The reserve’s field base is located at the mouth of the say Khoja-Kurgan, 50 km from Shakhrisabz. There is an office with a paleontological and biological museum, an assembly hall for 150 seats. There are 2 dormitories with double rooms, a hotel, a dining room, and residential cottages for the staff of the reserve.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

There are trails and observation platforms for tourists. In the rocks, you can see the oldest corals and other marine remains, formed about 470 million years ago. Surprisingly, a warm sea basin was located here about 140 million years ago.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel.

31 trails of the Jurassic period dinosaurs are still preserved in the Kalai Sheron canyon of Qashqadaryo.

Qashqadaryo is the first established region in Uzbekistan. It’s famous for its rich history, great conquerors, ancient cities, beautiful nature and age-long traditions, and customs. Everybody knows that you can see the four seasons here in a single day. However, Qashqadaryo has unique mysteries, miracles, and hidden secrets.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Tourism Development Department of the Qashqadaryo region.

People of Tashkurgan village of the Yakkabag district moved to the other place in 1999, and nobody lives here at the moment. The world-famous Hissar state geological reserve situated in a village. The area is being secured by the reserve. 12 kilometers distance from Toshkurgan village the ancient Amir Temur cave is located. Moreover, the Kalai Sheron canyon is close to the cave where still 31 trails of the Jurassic period dinosaurs preserved.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Tourism Development Department of the Qashqadaryo region.

The Kalai Sheron canyon reminds you of beautiful places in the mountains of Europe and Asia. The flora and fauna of an area are unique. Some plants grow only in this area. The mountain air is fresh and breathtaking. While walking towards the canyon you would be able to see the 31 trails of the Jurassic period dinosaurs that lived here several hundred million years before and are now extinct. The mystery is amazing for every traveler to the ancient place because there are also 220-240 meters long upright rocks. The lower side of the canyon is covered with a forest that full of firs. Their age is also astonishing. The average length of their life is 7-8 centuries. There are also magnificent waterfalls called “Bull’s nose” and “Filly’s tail”.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Tourism Development Department of the Qashqadaryo region.

It has to be mentioned that the distance of the 31 trails of dinosaurs is 1, and 1.5 meters. The diameter of each trail reaches 50-60 centimeters. The prints of trails can be seen through the protrusion of paws, and ubiety of nails those pressed deeply. It shows that the Kalai Sheron canyon of the Qashqadaryo region is one of the rarest ancient places of the world where still trails of dinosaurs remained.

Have you been at the highest point in Uzbekistan?

The trip to the highest point of Uzbekistan — the peak of Hazrat Sultan is unforgettable. To get there, you have to cross 6 rivers and several dozen mountains.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Tourism Development Department of the Qashqadaryo region.

Hazrat Sultan Peak is located on the Hissar mountain range and its height is 4,643 meters. It is said that he was named Hazrat Sultan in honor of Hodja Ahmad Yassavi. One of Yassavi’s names was Hazrat Sultan.

On the way, after the magnificent Hisorak Reservoir, you cross the pass and enter a number of villages. After passing the village of Miraki, telephone communication is cut off. As you approach the peak, the road becomes heavier.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Tourism Development Department of the Qashqadaryo region.

By the time you reach the lake village, the surroundings are just mountains. The journey from to the valley also takes more than 3 hours.

Qashqadaryo region. The photo is courtesy of the Tourism Development Department of the Qashqadaryo region.

Climbing to the top, which is a simple task for mountain people, is very tiring. But there is also the reward of this fatigue ahead. The road is dark and there is no sign of life. At such a stage, man feels how helpless he is in the face of nature. By dawn, it is possible to reach the top of the Hissar ridge.

As you approach the highest peak of Uzbekistan, you hear only one voice – the voice of silence. True, you can hear the sound of the river in the distance, but this voice is different. In the darkness of the morning the surroundings are so quiet that, if you say a word, it would come back.

You will never forget the pleasure of these moments.

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.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments