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 with China from early times. Kokand was famous for metal embossing, woodcarving, jewellery, pottery, embroidery and block printing.
In the early 18th century, the area was divided between Khiva Khanate (also known as Khorezm) and the Bukhara Emirate. Although the Sheybanids originally founded both Khanates, 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, a relatively 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 autonomous Republic of Xinjiang in China (formerly called East Turkestan). During that time, the Kokand Khanate was the largest of the three empires on Uzbek soil.
The Kokand Khanate existed from 1709 to 1876. There were 28 Khans (rulers) in power during its existence, many of whom ruled for only a few months or even a few days. Many rulers were murdered by their successors. An unstable situation due to the internal power struggle eventually allowed the Tsarist troops of Russia, led by General Skobelev, to quickly 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 leading traffic junction of the Fergana Valley but has lost its administrative importance. The city’s main attraction 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, in Kokand. 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 an airport. The nearest airport is in the city of Fergana, about 100 km from Kokand.
Rail connections: from Kokand train station, one can travel through Fergana Valley, Tashkent, and Uzbekistan’s other cities.