What to do in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, sights, local landmarks and attractions
Central Mount in Osh
A large city in Fergana valley, Osh is often called the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan. It was founded in 9th century BC. State official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian. Ethnic composition includes Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, Tatars, Tajiks, Uygurs. The city's population is around 300,000.
Osh is located on the south-eastern edge of the Fergana Basin in the northern foothills of Kichialay Ridge (south-western outskirts of the Tien Shan, and north-eastern edge of the Pamir-Alai Ridges) at an altitude of 700 to 1000 meters above the sea level. On the inclined surface of the plain there is the famous Sulaiman Hill, a Paleozoic formation, composed of limestone and sandstone. The plain where the city sits is cut through by the river Ak-Buur.
Osh is one of the most ancient Central Asian cities. The exact date of its foundation is unknown. Legends go that its name was derived from the time of Alexander the Great or even the Prophet Solomon (Suleiman). Scientists still cannot find consensus about that. The religious point of view describes the origins of the city as related to the biblical King Solomon or Sulaiman in local pronunciation. One of the legends tells that Solomon was on the march with his army, with a pair of oxen in front of it and when the oxen reached the famous mountain, Solomon said: "Hosh", which means "Enough".
Osh is undoubtedly one of the most ancient cities in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. Settlements of ancient farmers of the Bronze Age were discovered on the southern slope of the Suleiman Mountain. It was considered as a sacred site long before the Islamic period began in the region.
Osh features a favourable geographical location, in a fertile valley at the foot of the Pamir and Pamir-Alai Mountains. Because of its geographical position, Osh was a busy center at the intersection of trade caravan routes leading from ancient and medieval India and China to Europe. Through the city ran a branch of the Great Silk Road, the most important commercial artery of antiquity, connecting the East with the West.
The city of merchants, Osh was always famous for its bazaars and caravanserais. The main bazaar, located on the left bank of the Ak-Bura river was a classic example of an oriental roof-covered market place called Tim. For over two thousand years the main bazaar in Osh has lived its noisy and colorful life, changing its appearance and borders, yet remaining at the same place once chosen at ancient times.
Another important page in the history of Osh was connected with one of the representatives of the Tamerlane's dynasty, Zahireddin Muhammad Bobur (1483-1530).
Bobur's father, Omar Sheikh was a great-grandson of the Iron Lame Timur (Tamerlane) was the ruler of Ferghana. After his death, the twelve-year-old Bobur inherited the kingdom. Babur, born in neighbouring Andijan, visited Osh and even made an attempt to build a small mosque when he was 15. In his senior years he wrote the famous memoirs, 'Babur Nameh', which became a remarkable literary & artistic monument and a valuable source of information about the history of Central Asia in 15th century. In his young age he fled from his kingdom after unfortunate attemps to retain power. He was then luckier in Afghanistan and India, where he founded the Empire of Great Moguls.
Osh was one of the Islamic religious centers of Central Asia. This is largely because the mountain Sulaiman-Too, which, according to legends, is able to heal any illnesses, an ability that brought thousands of pilgrims to this area. On the slopes and even on the top, there were numerous Islamic objects of worship: mazars, and mosques.
What to see in Osh
Bazaar in Osh
Definitely, while in Osh one should see its bazaar, often referred to as the most picturesque in Central Asia, running along the river and gathering thousands of merchants selling virtually everything.
Also, you can walk around the Suleiman Mount and see a small cave with water running from the ceiling, symbolizing, according to what local worshippers say, the tears of the Saint.
In the cave, you find a small historical museum which exhibits finds of archaeological excavations around the city, objects pertaining to history and culture. The ethnographic museum has an abundant collection of items to pour light on the origin of Kyrgyzes, from ancient Silk road times and up to the Soviet period.