A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Kokand

Kokand

You’ll see little today in Kokand that recalls the city’s former glory as a religious center of Central Asia and capital of the Kokand Khanate during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Though it was at one point second only to Bukhara in regional importance, Kokand has had the severe misfortune of having been ravaged several times during it’s history: once in the 13th century by the Mongols and then later in the early 20th century by the Soviets — after a short 1 year stint of declaring independence in 1917 as the “Provisional Government of Autonomous Turkestan” (Kokand learned the hard lesson that you don’t mess with Russia).

I’d recommend giving a day or so to tour the city.  While there are some monuments that hearken back to the city’s glory days, there’s not enough to justify staying here for any real length of time.

Khudayar Khan Palace - Kokand

The palace of Khudayar Khan – credit: Wikimedia Commons, user upyernoz

What to See

The Palace of Khudayar Khan: Khudayar Khan had this palace built in 1873, and upon it’s completion it had seven courtyards and 119 rooms.  It was the largest palace in Central Asia, and it is decorated with some incredible tilework and beautiful calligraphy.  Nicknamed the “Pearl of Kokand”, it is a palace befitting a glorious ruler… Which Khudayar Khan was most certainly not.  Further attesting to Khudayar’s narcissism, nearly half of the palace was dedicated to housing his harem.  You know the man had to be compensating for something.

Less than 2 years after building his mighty palace, he was kicked out of the country by his own people – Khudayar was a very cruel and unpopular man – and wound up under the “protection” of the Russians… who promptly moved in to seize control of the country.   Six courtyards and 27 rooms of the palace remain open and available for viewing, most of the rest was destroyed when the Russians took control.

Dokhmai-i Shokhon: This is the tomb of the Khans of Kokand.  IT was built in the early 19th century to house the city’s rulers.  There is an elegantly carved wooden portal at the entrance, and the tomb is decorated with religious artwork and poetry by Umar Khan and his wife, Nodira.

Jami Mosque Museum: This was the largest mosque in the city, constructed in 1812 by Umar Khan.  There’s a 22 meter tall minaret, and this huge mosque was able to hold 10,000 worshipers at one time.  Now, it functions as a museum, displaying exhibits on the region’s rich Islamic history and regional suzani and ceramic artwork.

Getting In/Out

Your best bet for connecting with the rest of Uzbekistan, aside from the Ferghana Valley, is through buses or shared taxis, all of which depart from the main bus station.  If you’re connecting to other cities in the Ferghana Valley, or to parts of Kyrgyzstan, train is also an option.

Next up:

If you’re heading west on the Silk Road, it’s the city of Tashkent.

If you’re heading east, it is Kyrgyzstan and the city of Osh.

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Kokand Travel Guide

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Palace of Khudáyár Khán: 40.539112, 70.938206
Jami Mosque Museum: 40.533127, 70.949085
Sahib Mian Hazrat Medressa, : 40.527966, 70.945550
Narbutabey Medressa: 40.538835, 70.952067
Dakhma-i Shokhon: 40.538224, 70.954385
Kokand Rail Station: 40.519193, 70.928859
Kokand Central Bus Station: 40.527607, 70.953008
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Palace of Khudáyár Khán
Palace of Khudáyár Khán

The palace, known as the 'Pearl of Kokand', was built by Khudayar Khan in 1871.  He was the last ruler of the Kokand Khanate, before it was conquered by Russia.  Currently, only two courtyards and 19 rooms (of the original 7 courtyards and 119 rooms) remain.  What survives functions as a museum of Kokand's history.
Kokand, Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan
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Jami Mosque Museum
Jami Mosque

Completed in 1812, built by the order of Umar Khan, the Jami Mosque is a very large mosque that can hold up to 10,000 worshipers.  The complex is dominated by a 22 meters high minaret, which is an impressive sight.    Much of the mosque currently functions as a museum.

It is open daily from 9am - 5pm.
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Sahib Mian Hazrat Medressa,
Sahib Mian Hazrat Medressa

The Sahib Mian Hazrat Medressa is where the famed Uzbek poet Mohammed Amin Muqimi lived and studied for the last 33 years of his life.  There is a small museum containing some of his belongings and some calligraphy written by Muqimi.
Kokand, Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan
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Narbutabey Medressa
Narbutabey Medressa

Built in 1799 under orders from Khan Narbuta, the Madrassah is unique among the religious institutions of Kokand in that it was open during the Soviet era.  Additionally, the adjacent mosque was also opened and allowed to operate by Stalin in order to boost his support among the Muslim populace.
Kokand, Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan
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Dakhma-i Shokhon
Dakhma-i Shokhon

The Dakhma-i Shokhon is a necropolis, built to entomb the khans of Kokand.  It was constructed in the early 19th century, by Umar Khan.  There is a section of the necropolis complex, Ziarathona, where Umar is buried. The entrance doors are carved with an Arabic inscription from the Quran and some of Umar-Khan's poetry.
Kokand, Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan
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Kokand Rail Station
Kokand Railway Station

Trains connect Kokand to other parts of the Ferghana valley, like Andijan and to OSh.  There are, at the moment, no connections to Tashkent.
Kokand Railway Station, A-376, Kokand, Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan
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Kokand Central Bus Station
Kokand Central Bus Station

Buses and shared taxis depart form this bus station and connect Kokand to all parts of the Ferghana Valley, as well as to Tashkent.
Kokand Central Bus Station, Kokand, Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan
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