Historical city of Uzgen is located 55 kilometers northeast of Osh. Today Uzgen is a fairly large city by Kyrgyz standards with around 50 thousand inhabitants across the ridge from Jalal-Abad. About 90% of the population of Uzgen is of Uzbek ethnicity.
The city is divided into Upper and Lower Uzgen. In the Upper Uzgen are the enterprises such as bazaars and shops. The lower areas are considered more as sleeping areas. Despite the fact that two rivers flow near the city – Kara Darya and Iasi, locals experience a constant shortage of drinking water. The city water supply channel provides enough water only to 60% of the population and drinking water is therefore taken from domestic columns and open sources where the quality is not always adequate.
History of Uzgen
From the second part of the 11th century till the beginning of the 13th century, Uzgen was the capital of the Ferghana apanage of the Karakhanid State. Uzgen is listed as one of the silk road sites of Kyrgyzstan in the UNESCO tentative list.
In the 13th century, Uzgen was demolished by Genghis Khan, and only the Uzgen Tower (Minaret) and three mausoleums were preserved. The minaret here is the closest relative of the more known Burana tower in Northern Kyrgyzstan.
Afterwards, Uzgen was a part of the Kokand khanate, until the Russian Empire took over this region and finally turned into the Soviet Union.
Visit Uzgen Archaeological Museum Complex
What to do in Uzgen
The monuments of Uzgen are called the “encyclopedia of the Karakhanids culture” because one can observe progress stages of architectural forms as well as of the decorative art of the 11-12th centuries.
The Uzgen minaret was built in the middle of the 11th century, during the dawn of the Karakhanid era. The minarets were designed so that the mullahs at the appropriate time, with their strong and loud voice, would call the faithful to perform religious rites.
Each brick of the Uzgen minaret has a special value. Currently, the height of the Uzgen minaret is 27,5 meters, originally it was 44 m. You can also see the picture of Uzgen minaret on the 50 som Kyrgyz banknote.
The mausoleums of the Karakhanid rulers are located next to the minaret at the same site. Their facades are facing southwest, forming one area. In the south, the square is terminated by the Kara-Darya river slope, and in the south-west it passes into the ancient necropolis of the XIII-XIV centuries.
According to the local legends the rulers of the Karakhanid dynasty are buried in these mausoleums. However, the legends do not match with scientific facts. After studying the inscriptions on the buildings, scientists found that one of the mausoleums was placed in honor of “a member of the Ilekov Tugrul Kara Hakan Hussein dynasty, son of Hassan, son of Ali, who died on Wednesday of the fourth month in 547.”
Taste Uzgen pilaf (plov)
Uzgen is famous for its exceptional type of rice named “Devzira”. This reddish-brown rice is grown throughout the Ferghana Valley, but it is believed that Uzgen has the best climatic condition with the mineral composition of the soil, for this specific rice. The landscape is also well suited for the installation of rice terraces and the ancient traditions of rice cultivation are ideally combined.
Due to this combination, dishes prepared from Uzgen rice are easily digested even though they are often quite fatty. “Devzira” is the most expensive and considered being an elite rice and is the best rice for preparing the famous Osh / Uzgen /Fergana style plov.
The easiest way is to fly to Osh airport and to continue by car to Uzgen. Travel time between Uzgen and Osh is about 1,5 hours. From Osh city center you can take a marshrutka or shared taxi from the entrance to Noviy Avtovokzal (New bus station). Marshrutkas depart every 40 minutes and will cost 50 som. Shared taxis depart as soon as the car is full and the cost will be about 100 som.
From Bishkek you may get a shared taxi to Uzgen from the west bus station or next to Osh bazar for 1300 som per person. Another option is taking a taxi that goes to Osh and to ask the driver to let you out in Uzgen on the way. You may and often should negotiate about the price with the drivers.