Shakhimardan is a small town, or more precisely an exclave, in the Fergana district of Uzbekistan. It is wholly geographically separated from the rest of Uzbekistan and is bordered with Kyrgyzstan from all possible sides. In fact, it is 55 Km away from city of Fergana and 25 Km from southernmost Uzbekistan border nestling in Kyrgyzstan’s Alai range.
Shakhimardanwhich is a Persian world translates to"Lord of the people." This implies that it had a long history of Muslim dominance, as in case with other cities in Uzbekistan. According to legends, Hazrat Ali, the son in law of Prophet Muhammad visited this place, and it is the place of one of his theorized seven graves. Thus it is a religious and sacred pilgrimage place.
For a brief period of time, this place was called Hamzaabad in honor of poet HamzaHakimzadeNiyazi, which got changed shortly after he was stoned to death. The current situation of Shakhimardan can be partially (or even completely) attributed to borderlines created by Stalin during the Tsarist Era. As misunderstood and ill planned as the division was, the consequences were not good at all. Fergana Valley especially had to endure much of it, the regions of which still remain disputed to this day. Many families who inhabited the land for decades suddenly found themselves under the rule of a whole new country. Similar situation was faced by Uzbeks living in Shakhimardan who saw themselves surrounded by Kyrgyzs who were culturally similar but not equal. As part of territorial exchange between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1930, Shakhimardan became a part of Uzbekistan.
Despite being a hard-to-reach destination, Shakhimardan was among the favorite and preferred tourist destinations in Uzbekistan. The experience that it proffers is in stark contrast to the oasis cities and desert land of mainland Uzbekistan. Thanks to the high mountains of Kyrgyzstan that surround this region, this place offers excellent picturesque view to the few intrepid travelers that take the pain and come to this place. With temperatures barely reaching 20 degrees Celsius even during summer, the snowy peaks of the Alai Mountains seemingly tease to be trekked. There are numerous trekking routes and it’s completely up to you to make the decision on which route to traverse.
Lake Kulikubbon or the Blue Lake to the south and Oaksu and Koksu River that run through it makes it an ideal picnic and camping spot. The water of the lake and rivers are pristine, but rather chilly, where you can go for swimming, which you can follow up by a picnic. Fishing and rafting are steadily getting popular in here.
Amidst these picturesque mountains, there exist numerous wild animals residing in the plains. Perched between the trees are varieties of bird species such as stork and woodpecker. Combine the two and you’ll get an excellent game viewing experience, and that too with little to no visitors around.
During seasons, bazaar and fairgrounds are organized where you can buy locally grown food items and handmade crafts as souvenirs.