Shakhimardan (Shohimardon) town of Uzbekistan is almost lost in the Alay mountain range and surrounded by the Batken oblast of Kyrgyzstan. It is definitely the most spectacular enclave in the region. The village is located 55 kilometers south of Ferghana Valley, situated at an altitude of 1500 meters above the sea level. The town is bordered on both sides by the Oak-Suu and Kok-Suu rivers, which eventually merge into one river forming the winding Shakhimardan-Sai.
Shakhimardan became a part of Uzbekistan in the 20th century when Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan exchanged territories. Therefore it became an enclave of Uzbekistan territory that remains surrounded by Kyrgyzstan and is separated from the rest of Uzbekistan by a distance of 17 km.
Shakhimardan’s history is largely connected with the name of Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph and the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in law. There is a theory that during the stay of Hazrat Ali in Central Asia, he visited the village of Shakhimardan and one of his possible seven graves is located in the village. When translated from the Persian, “Shakhimardan” means “Lord of the people” that corresponds with the name of Hazrat Ali.
In the 1920s there was a mosque at the center of Shakhimardan and a mausoleum for Hazrat Ali, where the faithful came to pray. However, in an era of oppression of religion, the Soviet authorities demolished the mausoleum of Ali. Only after Uzbekistan gained independence in 1993, the mausoleum of Hazrat Ali was re-built in the same place and kept its outer form. Shakhimardan was called Hamzaabad for some time, in honor of the poet and author of the Uzbek drama “Hamza Hakim-Zade Niyazi”. In the 1960s, a museum and mausoleum were built in Shakhimardan in Hamzaabad’s honor.
How to get to Shakhimardan
Shakhimardan lies 80 km south of Fergana city, along a well-maintained road. If you don’t have your own vehicle, there are plenty of shared taxis running the route, particularly at weekends and other holidays.
For its history and its beauty, Shohimardon shall rightly be a key tourist destination in the Fergana Valley. However, thanks to Soviet union’s heritage with the central Asia’s borders, it is unfortunately situated in an Uzbek enclave within Kyrgyzstan. Foreigners wishing to visit require a multiple-entry Uzbek visa and a multiple-entry Kyrgyz visa (unless you are visa free for both countries) and it is still not guaranteed that foreigners would be let inside the enclave or even worse, to re-enter Kyrgyzstan.
Sights and destinations near Shakhimardan
Page updated 29.7.2021