The name Kokand translates as “beautiful place” and it is a fitting description of one of the most important cities in the Fergana Valley, the easternmost part of Uzbekistan. Kokand was the historic capital of the powerful Khanate of Kokand. It offers tourists well-preserved cultural monuments, and is also the location of the biennial International Handicrafters Festival, a great opportunity to see fine handicrafts from across Uzbekistan and abroad. The city of Kokand is surrounded by fertile agricultural land, including cotton fields, vineyards, orchards, and vegetable plantations. This allows for rich harvests of root vegetables, cotton, and juicy grapes. The combination of productive farmland and being on a profitable trade route through the Fergana Valley enabled Kokand’s historic rulers, landowners, and merchants to grow rich, and they invested in the impressive architecture you still see today.
Foremost amongst Kokand’s tourist sites is the Palace of Khudayar Khan, which dates from the late 19th century. The palace originally had 113 rooms set around seven courtyards, and though much of the complex was destroyed by the Bolsheviks, part survives and is open to the public as a museum. Kokand was an important regional centre of religious learning. The large Juma Mosque is in the Old City, and its beautiful iwan is supported on 98 redwood columns imported from India around 1810. Tourists can also visit the Amin Beg Madrassa (which houses a small museum), the Shaib Mian Hazrat Madrassa, and the Narbutabey Madrassa. The latter is particularly important as it includes the grave of Nodira, a famous Uzbek poet and stateswoman, who died in 1842.