Tashkent Region is located in the northeastern part of Uzbekistan between the western part of the Tien Shan mountains and the Syr Darya river, bordering Kazakhstan to the northwest, Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Tajikistan to the south and the Syr Darya region of Uzbekistan to the southwest. The administrative center of region is the city of Nurafshon. Before July 2017, the administrative center of the region was Tashkent city. The capital of region — the city of Nurafshon. Cover 15,300 square kilometers, The Tashkent Region is home to about 2. 7 million. The major cities and towns are Chirchik, Angren, Almalyk, Akhangaran, Chirchik, Yangiabad, Yangiyul and Bekabad.
People inhabited the Tashkent region since prehistoric and ancient times as evidenced by many archaeological sites, Stone Age settlements, Bronze age settlements, petroglyphs, many burial mounds and ruins of ancient fortresses. The most famous monuments in the region are Kanka settlement located at an oasis. The capital of the ancient settlement was located in the Akhangaran valley (70 kilometers from Tashkent). Over time, the center of the Tashkent oasis moved to the north towards modern Tashkent to the Ming Urik settlement.
Recreation and tourism areas in Tashkent Region include 1) the “Chimgan-Charvak — Beldersay” (Chimgan — Charvak recreational zone) ; and 2) Chatkal State National Park. Eighty kilometers from the Tashkent, at the confluence of three wild mountain rivers — the Ugam, Chatkal and Pskem — is high dam and reservoir of the Charvak hydroelectric power station. Charvak reservoir is surrounded by green slopes, crowned with snowy peaks.
Ugam-Chatkal National Park is a picturesque natural areas with spreading trees and beautiful lakes. The lakes of Urungach are regarded as among the most beautiful spots in the park. The Lower and Upper Lakes of Urungach feature clear waters that you can swim in. You can walk to the dam, admire the rocks, which are mirrored in the jade waters of the upper lake. The Chimgan valley is lovely situated at 1600 meters above sea level at the foot of the Great and Small Chimgan mountains ranges. It is a popular area for skiing, hiking and other recreation and sports activities.
Syr Darya is one of the two largest and longest rivers in Central Asia. It originates and is feed by glaciers, snow melt and steams in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan and the mountains of Tajikistan and flows through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan and then into the Aral Sea. Much of the water used for drinking, bathing, industry and agricultures for Central Asia comes form it. The flow of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya into he Aral Sea have been reduced by three-quarters, which is why the Aral Sea shrunk to such a small size.
In Kazakhstan, the Syr Darya basin occupies two regions: South-Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda. The river is 2,212 kilometers long and its basin covers 219,000 square kilometers. The Syr Darya is formed by the confluence of the Naryn and Karadarya River in the eastern part of the Ferghana Valley in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan..
Before 1989, the Syr Darya flowed into the Aral Sea, but as a result of shallowing of the Aral Sea’s separation into two parts, the Syr Darya now only fill up the northern part of once mighty Aral Sea, a body of water called the "Small Sea". Several reservoirs such as Toktogul (Kyrgyzstan), Kairakkum (Tajikistan), Chardara and Koksaray (both in Kazakhstan) were created on the river. The Syr Darya is the muddiest river in Kazakhstan, the turbidity of water in the reservoir is 1200 g/cc.mol. This is due to the fact that its waters carry away loose soil on its way.
The Syr Darya is the longest river of Central Asia but the second largest. The Amu Darya carries more water. Both feed the Aral Sea and have had their waters depleted for cotton irrigation. Since ancient times people living in the Syr-Darya basin have used its waters for irrigation and settlements that grew up around irrigation networks grew into major towns on the Silk Road. The Shardarinsky water basin is located where the Syr-Darya runs along the border of Kazakhstan with Uzbekistan. It was created in the 1960s as a huge cotton agricultural region. Water was also harnessed for a hydroelectric power station. The reservoir is utilized today for recreation and fishing.
Tugay woods in lower reaches of The Syr Darya are a unique ecosystem. An enormous variety of vegetation can be found in the tugay woods of The Syr Darya, including hedges of oleaster, tamarisk and turanga and the famous relic Asian poplar. The landscape — a dense texture of bushes and high grass — is very difficult to pass through and provide a nesting place for numerous water fowl. The Tiray tiger lived here until the 19th century.
Chirchik is huge dead industrial town. Nearby is Gazaallkent, the home of a lot German-style houses occupied by Germans, many of whom emigrated back to Germany, and Charvak Reservoir, with a small park with 40,000-year-old petroglyphs. The Angren River Valley is a dramatic nature area with waterfalls, river canyons, cliffs and 3,000-meter mountains. Near the coal town of Angren is a 12th-century mausoleum. The road between Tashkent and the Fergana Valley twists and turns up and down and 2,267-meter-high Kamchik pass.
Tashkent Sea (30 kilometers from Tashkent) is the name sometimes given to the Tuyabuguz Reservoir. As the reservoir is shallow and its bottom warms up quickly, the water is often warm enough for swimming. The beach is equipped with the necessary infrastructure and stretches for a few kilometers. Activities that one can enjoy here include jet skis, catamarans, bananas and motor boats.
Charvak Reservoir (75 kilometers northeast of Tashkent) has facilities geared for beach tourism. There are camp sites on sandy beaches landscaped and equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas. Jet skis and catamarans can be rented. Thrill-seekers can ride on water banana and paragliding. One can also just chill and admire the surrounding scenery and the peaks of the Big and Small Chimgan. The coastline of the reservoir stretches for almost 100 kilometers. There are recreation areas, children’s camps, a boarding house and a hotel. Near the town of Khodjikent there is a tea house near a 600-year-old plane tree and the prehistoric rock paintings.
Zanghi-Ata Ensemble (southeast of Tashkent, in Zanghi-ata village) was formed around the 14th century tomb of the Sufi Shaikh Yasaviya Zanghi Ata. The oldest part of it consists of the burial chamber of the shaikh and a hall for the pilgrims. In addition, there is the mosque, khujdras (rooms) for pilgrims, a minaret, a pond (khauz) and near-gate construction built in the yard. The tomb and the ensemble is a pilgrimage site for Muslims all over Central Asia.
Presumably tombstone over the grave of shaikh was established in the era of Tamerlane (most likely by his command), and the domed building and a hall for the pilgrims were built during the reign of Mirza Ulugh-beg. Family centuries later, the yard was established. The biggest restoration works were carried out at the beginning of the 19th century and in the late 1990s.
The minaret was built by a local (Tashkent) master in Turkish style. His patron wanted thought to emulate Turkish minarets as it is evidenced by the original decor and epigraphy, carved on a gypsum (ganch) plate in front of the entrance to the minaret. In the lower part there is the pattern of the labyrinth in a square shape. Unlike conventional maze, where the center is only one “input” here in the center there are two of the existing conventional “inputs” (below). In the center it is written: Constantinople (Istanbul).
The riddle of the labyrinth can be understood if we recall the following facts. Firstly, Muslims of colonial Turkestan perceived the ruler of Turkish Empire as “caliph (spiritual head) ” of Muslims all over the world. Secondly, a schematic idea of such a geometric “Rebus” (apparently “designed” in Turkey) was intended to show that all the ways for Muslims precisely the ideological and political center of the Muslims of that time — Constantinople. It is possible that we have in mind the Koranic phrase (30: 1-2), which contains a hint to “Rum” (“second Rome”), i. e. Constantinople.
Shahruhiya (88 kilometers southwest of Tashkent ) is an of ancient settlement located on the right bank coast of Syr Darya river. It was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Shahruhiya (Sharkiya) “is the first large city of Tashkent oases, situated on the Silk Road through Yaksart (Syr Darya). In the oriental sources, it was famous under the name Benaket and the portion of the Silk Road direction called by its name. It consisted of citadel, two cities' territories and wide tradecraft suburb-rabad, in total area - 400 hectares. ” The monument has been partly destroyed by Syr Darya river. The other part of the city and necropolis of Uzbek elite is relatively safe. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]
“Fortress walls with towers have surrounded by citadel, Shahristan and Rabad. The walls were kept better, which erected by Tamerlane, called Ancient Benaket by the name of his youngest son Shahruh in 1392. Archeological research discovered fortification constructions, handicraft workshops of potters and glass blower, bazaars areas, systems of municipal improvements of the city and remains of the front residential constructions of the Epoch of Timurids and Uzbek Khanates. The memorial complex "Shomir-kara ovlia" functioned in the northwestern part of Rabad in 16th century. The traces of the memorial mosque of Abdullakhan I were preserved here, that was built for Shah Emir Asadulla, the ishan of Shahruhiya and marble grave.
“A site of ancient settlement of Shahruhiya existed from 3rd-4th until 18th centuries A.D. Originally, it was a small city at the passage, but it became a huge city at the 10th -11th centuries. It was destroyed by Mongols, later has reconstructed by Tamerlane, and named as Shahruhiya. Since that time, it became an important economical and cultural center in the state of Timurids and Sheybanids. Here was functioned own mint. The city connected with the names of outstanding scientists, poets, penmen and artists lived here. ”
Kanka (80 kilometers in the southeast from Tashkent, in the southeastern outskirts of Eltamgali) is an ancient settlement and one of the largest city centers of Tashkent oasis. Kanka was the first capital of Chach state, small estate of Kanguy. It was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Monumental fortification walls with towers surround the huge territory of more than 160 hectares. There are three cities inside, allocated into each other, and each of them by own fortification, curtains and ditches. Inside-small town typical of antique plan, once it has affixed with other suspension bridge. In its northeast part rise the most powerful construction of the city-citadel-arch, with the height more than 40 meters with palace of governor, man-sided bastions and house temple. The total area is 220 hectares. Kanka divides into three parts - citadel, shakhristan - town territory and rabad - trade and commercial outskirt.
“Citadel is almost square-shaped at the height of 35 meters. There is a huge castle with four towers at the base of citadel. The castle has been separated from building with huge ditch. It stands on the powerful platform, the top part of which has nine lines of pahsa (adobe clay). Inside of the platform are concealed more ancient buildings. There are buildings of 6th - 7th and 11th - 12th centuries in top layer of citadel. In the centre of northern facade was placed the only entrance to citadel. Distinctive peculiarity of Kanka is that it has three Shakhristans, establishing of which reflects stages of dynamics of town development.
“Shakhristan I includes citadel (in the northwestern edge and it has correct square form of quadrangle stretched to the west from the river. The height of fortification walls from its base is 26 meters. Shakhristan I was encompassed with wide ditch (about 35 meters.). The only gate is in the center of the southern side. Evidently, there was built a tower, from where was thrown a drawbridge. The depth of the cultural layers is not the same, and in the western part, it equals to 26 meters. In the territory of Shakhristan I was found urban development of 11th - 12th centuries and ruins of town temples of VI - 7th centuries.
“Shakhristan II surrounds Shakhristan I from three sides and it has square form too, but it stretches along riverbed. Its total area equals to 45 hectares. It has very compact planning and encompassed with its own fortification wall. Separation of this territory is the result of temporary shortening of urban territory in the beginning of 7th century.
“Shakhristan III includes all these parts; its planning nears to trapezium. Total area of urban territory, surrounded by the stronghold walls, is occupied 160 hectares. It has discovered that there was a terrace and little ditch in front of stronghold walls. Southwestern and Central tracts of Shakhristan III have been planned very densely with street net and bazaar squares. Western and northeastern parts do not have any buildings. There are unique production shops and city caravanserai, which were discovered as well in this part of the settlement.
“Rabad encompasses urban territory as horseshoe from the east and southwest. It is unknown whether stronghold walls have been installed because large territory of rabad is ploughed up. City appeared in the 4th century B.C. and it was identified by the Greek sources with Antihiey Zayaksartskoy. In further centuries it was apart of Kanguy State and was known as a first capital of Chach (in Chinese sources - Yuni-Shi). The north route of the Silk Road ran through it. It was described as Kharashet in Arabian sources (etymological meaning is “the city of holly farna”), a second under the economical and cultural center of Shash in Middle Age.
“During the archeological research on the Kanka site of ancient settlement was discovered a palace of the ruler with house temple of fire in citadel. The monumental city temple was discovered in Shahristan I, direct data that is given in Chinese sources. The unique discovered here the remains of monumental lists of temple and type-bull connected with Manichean religion. The residential area, industrial workshops, big monumental caravanserai and bazaar squares were discovered in Shahristan III. ”
Ugam-Chatkal National Park
Ugam-Chatkal National Park (170 kilometers northeast of Tashkent in the northeast corner of Uzbekistan, sandwiched between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) is the largest and most popular park or reserve in the Tashkent region. Covering an area of 5,746 square kilometers, the park was established in 1990 in the gorges of Chatkal ridge and embraces a variety of climate and flora that live between 1000 and 4000 meters range of elevation found in the park.
Ecosystems found in the Ugam-Chatkal National Park include mountain forests, mountain steppe, alpine meadows and highlands with glaciers and snowfields. In the middle zone of the mountains grow walnut, apple and cherry plum. At an elevation above 1200 meters you can frind mixed forests with cade (juniper), rowan, birch, maple, apple tree, wild cherry and hawthor. At 2000 meters and above, juniper woodlands predominate. Above 2500 meters is subalpine vegetation.
The park is home to 48 species of mammals, including wild boar, white-clawed bear, badger, wolf, fox, porcupine, less common roe deer, Siberian mountain goat and snow leopard. In the park there are about 200 species of birds, including 130 that nest there. Among them are different types of eagles, falcons, owls, pigeons, turtledoves, yellowhammer, thrushes, flycatchers, titmouses and warblers. In the park’s waters lives 20 fish species: snowtrout (marinka), naked osman, char, loach, Tashkent bleak, Turkestan catfish, Chatkal bulhead. Issyk-Kul and rainbow trout are also found in the Charvak reservoir.
Chatkal State Natural Reserve (southern part of the Ugam-Chatkal National Park) was set up in 1947, covers 457. 4 square kilometers hectares consists of two sections: Bashkyzylsay and Maydantal. Bashkyzylsay is located on the southwestern slopes of the Chatkal ridge at altitudes of 1100 to 3247 meters. Maydantal is on the northern slopes at altitudes of 1200 to 3800 meters and separated from Bashkyzylsay by more than 30 kilometers. The park is comprised of mountains slopes with juniper forests, highlands and alpine low-grass meadows, xerophytic mountain meadows, steppes, waterfalls and caves. Ptroglyphs with hinting scenes can be found in the southern part of the Maydantal site on the rocks near the Terek-sai river in the Karasau tract .
Chimgan (80 kilometers from Tashkent) is a recreation area and resort with some skiing, whitewater rafting and hiking opportunities. There are some petroglyphs and 4,000 meter mountains in the area and three rivers that fill a reservoir.
The Chimgan valley is lovely situated at 1200-1600 meters above sea level at the foot of the Great and Small Chimgan mountains ranges. It is a popular area for skiing and other recreation and sports activities. The ski season is from November to March. The relatively mild climate, almost complete absence of wind, a large selection of trails for slalom skiing and downhill create excellent conditions for this sport.
The Chimgan Valley is surrounded with mountains. Greater Chimgan Mountain (3309 meters) is the main peak of the valley and towers above the entire valley. Chimgan mountains include the peaks and scenic spots of Gulkam and Beldersay. Many of these places are the part of Ugam-Chatkal National Park. Hiking trails start from the picturesque tract “Twelve Keys” to the wide dome of the Great Chimgan at an altitude of 3377 meters above sea level or to the top of the Small Chimgan at a height of 2100 meters. The most popular routes through the picturesque places in the Western Tien Shan along the mountain rivers Chatkal, Akbulak, Pskem and Koksu are connected with the ascent to the steep slopes and crossings of dangerous streams, which best tried by experienced mountaineers.
Behind Chimgan is Pulathan peak, 3000 meters above sea level. It looks as if it has been sliced off the mountain range, leaving a hole in its place. Over time, many caves have been formed by the water which accumulates there. According to legend, in one of these caves the treasures of Alexander the Great was hidden. The story goes that a beloved concubine of Alexander general fell in love with one of her guardians. Alexander the Great noticed the love. But instead of killing them he banished the lovers to a cave together with their retinue and treasures. To this day, treasure seekers clamber of Pulathan, peeking in its many caves, hoping to find this treasure. One can climb this mountain only from the eastern side; it is inaccessible from the other sides.
Tashkent Area Ski and Mountain Resorts
Chimgan Ski Resort (80 kilometers from Tashkent) is a family-friendly and entertainmnet-oriented ski area with relatively easy trails, cafes, bars, saunas, billiards and even a disco. There are “red” and “blue” tracks. The chairlift is 800 meter long and takes 10 minutes for a slope that has a vertical drop of 385 meters. The rope tow (“MOP”) is 570 meters long and takes 10 minutes for a slope that has vertical drop of 250 meters.
Beldersay Ski Resort (five kilometers from Beldersay ski resort) is a more serious ski resort. While Chimgan is recommended for family holidays and beginners, the Beldersay is designed for more experienced skiers. The resort has a first-class hotel and a variety of ski runs. There are two cable cars (2. 5 kilometers long, lifting time 24 minutes, for slopes with a 565 meters drop) and rope (“MOP” — about 1 kilometers long, lifting time about 5 minutes, for runs with a drop of 200 meters).
Amirsoy (65 kilometers from Tashkent) is billed as an all season mountain resort. Officially launched in 2019, the resort is located on an area that covers 900 on the spurs of the Chatkal range in the Western Tien Shan mountains. The resorts’s winter and summer facilities include comfortable chalets and hotels, restaurants and bars, a sauna complex, spa, swimming pools and much more. There are picnic areas in specially designated areas that have gazebos and barbecues that you can rent for family outings. In the winter season, you can use the slopes and lifts for skiing and snowboarding. Snowshoes and equipment for hiking in the snow can rented. There is a specially prepared area for tubing (riding on cheesecakes), sledges and snowmobiles.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Uzbekistan Tourism website (National Uzbekistan Tourist Information Center, uzbekistan.travel/en), Uzbekistan government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020