Kokand – capital of the old Kokand khanate
The history of the city goes back more than 2,200 years. In ancient times, the city was known as “Hokand”, “Havokent”, “Havokin” or “Hukan”. In Uzbek, the name sounds like “Hukand”; the locals call their city “enchanting Hukand”.
Due to its location on the Silk Road, the city benefited from trade to and from China very early on. Kokand was famous for metal embossing, woodcarving, jewellery, pottery, embroidery and block printing.
At the beginning of the 18th century, two rival empires dominated the region of Central Asia: the Khiva Khanate (also known as Khorezm) and the Bukhara Khanate. Although both Khanates were originally founded by the Sheybanids, there was an ongoing struggle between the two empires for power and lands. The Fergana Valley belonged to the Bukhara Emirate at that time; however, the Khan was too busy with the disputes in the West to be able to take care of the area. Shakhrukh-Biy, a member of the Uzbek Ming tribe, used this circumstance and took over the Fergana valley in 1709. He had chosen Kokand, which at that time was a rather insignificant small town, as his capital and expanded it accordingly. The newly founded state thus became the Kokand Khanate. The state reached its peak in the first half of the 19th century when it included parts of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, South Kazakhstan and the current autonomous Republic of Xinjiang in China (formerly called East Turkestan). During this time, the Kokand Khanate was the largest of the three empires: Bukhara, Khiva and Kokand Khanates.
The Kokand Khanate existed from 1709 to 1876. During this time, there were 28 rulers (Khans) in power, many of whom ruled for only a few months or even a few days. Many rulers were murdered by their successors. This unstable situation due to the internal power struggle eventually allowed the Tsarist troops of Russia, led by General Skobelev, to easily conquer the area in 1876. Subsequently, the Khanate was dissolved and the region became part of Russian Turkestan. According to the 1897 census of the Russian Empire, Kokand’s population at that time was 81,354.
The modern Kokand is a main traffic junction of the Fergana Valley but has lost its administrative importance. The main attraction of the city is the palace of Khudayar Khan, the ruler who lost and regained the throne three times. The palace is also known as “Urda” and was one of the largest palaces in Central Asia. It was built from 1863 to 1865 on the ruins of an old fortress.
General information about kokand
- Population: 250.000 (2018)
- Elevation: 409 m
What to taste in Kokand?
Travellers should try “Patyr non”, the local bread from the Tandoor oven. The dough of this bread is based on milk and butter. The bread has a relatively large diameter, is richly decorated with various patterns and can be kept for a long time.
Air connections: Kokand does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is in the city of Fergana, about 100 km from Kokand.
Rail connections: there is a train station with connections to the other cities of the Fergana Valley as well as to Tashkent and from there to the other cities of Uzbekistan.