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.
Margilan is one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia.
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.
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.
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.
Madrassah Norbutabi, which was built at the end of the 18th century, was the most important religious centre of the city. After Uzbekistan gained its independence this madrassah again started to function as a seminary and at the moment more than eighty students study here.
The cathedral Juma-mosque, which was built at the beginning of the 19th century, can be considered the bright specimen of Islamic architecture. The overhead coves of avian are supported by 98 carved columns made of such a hard wood that it is called “stone wood” The unique ceiling of the mosque is made of beautifully decorated with intricate paintings wooden plaques “vassa”, which are placed across the bars similarly decorated with ornaments. A minaret visible from any spot in the city towers the mosque.
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. 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 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.