Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Osh is the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan, and one of the country’s oldest towns. Osh has been a major city in the Fergana Valley for a period believed to go back 3,000 years. Osh has been important in history, from home to a big bazaar to the birthplace of Kurmanjan Datka, in several different periods.

It’s difficult to confirm just how old Osh is and, while objects from the 5th century BCE were discovered, many suggest the city is 3000 years old. Legend has it that Solomon, or perhaps Alexander the Great, was created the city. Regardless of what the legends tell, for centuries, Osh has been a key point for traders.

Osh was an important trade town in the medieval period. Nomads came from the mountains selling cattle, and traders came with merchandise caravans from Asia and Europe. In 1862, Osh was part of Kokand’s Khanate and became one of the Khanate’s six major trade centres.

Kokand’s Khanate was attached to the Russian empire in 1868. Alai ruler Kurmanjan Datka, near Osh, remained independent for a long time, but lead a peaceful transition to Russian control in 1876. Her life’s story has been adapting to a film in 2014 and she has earned Kyrgyzstan statues (including one in Osh). Under Russian law, Osh extended.

Osh ended up in southern Kyrgyzstan, near Uzbekistan, when boundaries were drawn to establish the new republics. Approximately 260,000 city citizens are divided approximately equally between ethnic Kyrgyzes and Uzbeks. Often, tensions erupted, especially in 1990 and 2010. Osh has been quiet for many years and is famous for its distinctive character and its tasty plov.

Sulaiman Too, a great holy peak in the middle of the city is the most prominent sight in Osh. Sulaiman Too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated entirely in Kyrgyzstan because of its geographical, cultural and spiritual importance. On the top of Sulaiman Too, a mosque was founded in the 1400s and the mausoleum of Asaf ibn Burhia is located at the lower end of the peak, a republic. The Sulaiman Too National Museum of History and Archeology has been established in one of the caves at the edge of the mountain.

It takes an enjoyable walk around a trail across the mountain. You’ll also see pilgrims praying in a small cave along the way. Water droplets drip from the roof inside the tunnel, and Suleyman’s tears are said to have been there. Pilgrims come to pray for disease relief and assistance with troubleshooting. It’s also admired by many women who have been unable to bring up children for whatever cause (apparently in profile some people believe it looks like a pregnant woman lying down – but you have to be some distance away and in the direction of that). Many sacred buildings were erected by Muslims.

There are also many worth visiting museums in Osh. At the base of the Sulaiman Too the Great Silk Road Museum contains exhibits on the culture, nature and fascinating people of Kyrgyzstan; and the Kurmanjan Datka Museum is a yurt full of textiles and art.

It is one of the oldest and most picturesque in Central Asia, along the banks of the Ak-Bura River. The bazaar is an excellent venue just for exploration and the selling of food and crafts. Stop at the Mosque of Shaid Tepa, Kyrgyzstan’s biggest mosque. Established between 1908 and 1910, the original mosque was used by blacksmiths and soviet stables. The Mosque has recently been reconstructed with Saudi Arabian money, and it now accommodates five thousand adorers.

Go outside the city to see the Uzgen mausoleums or take a deep breath of fresh air in the Kyrgyz-Ata National Park’s juniper woods, which have been protected areas since 1992.