Andijan of Uzbekistan: The birthplace of Emperor Babur

Asia Contributor

While people across the world have heard of the great Mughal empire that ruled over the Indian subcontinent for three centuries, very few people have heard of the two cities, located close to each other, named Andijan and Osh. While the former is in Uzbekistan, the latter is in Kyrgyzstan, just across the border.

Andijan treasures a copy of Baburnama

Today Andijan is a modern city in Uzbekistan. It is located near the country’s border with Kyrgyzstan, on the south-eastern edge of the Ferghana Valley. Historically one of the oldest cities in the Ferghana Valley, Andijan is best known as the birthplace of Zahir ud-Din Muhammad Babur, who was the founder of the Mughal empire. He was born here on February 14, 1483. One of the key tourist attractions of this city is the Babur Literary Museum. Which has interesting collections on the emperor’s literary exploits. Of particular interest is a copy of the Baburnama, a huge memoir that he penned describing much of the fascinating escapades of his colorful life.

Trading center and Tsarist Russia

While Andijan certainly gained its importance during Islamic rule, its foundation predates the Islamic era. According to historians, there is enough evidence to prove that the city was founded sometime in the 7th century. The city also became important over time with the growth of the Silk Road. A lifeline trade route connecting the east and the west, which has existed for more than a millennium. The city came under the control of Tsarist Russia in 1876. Sadly, on 16 December 1902, a severe earthquake struck the city, killing over four thousand people.

Andijan entered into modern times with the establishment of the USSR. During the Soviet rule, it became one of the major industrial hubs of Uzbekistan. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Andijan continued to be a major city in the newly formed republic of Uzbekistan. It is still the country’s biggest city and a major center for the engineering industry.

Osh, a neighbor of Andijan

Since Andijan is very close to the Kyrgyzstan border tourists coming to this city can easily travel to a nearby ancient city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. The city is only about 5 Km. from the border. Osh has a fabulous outdoor bazaar. That is said to be in the same place for the past 2000 years. The city itself is said to be over 3000 years old and has been mentioned by Claudius Ptolemy, a second-century Greek polymath. Once a major site of Muslim pilgrimage the Sulayman Mountain. Located near Osh offers a splendid view of the ancient city. Legend has it that the grave of Prophet Sulayman, mentioned in the Holy Quran, is located in this mountain.

It has been protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site as ‘the most complete example of a sacred mountain anywhere in Central Asia.’ It is still a very popular destination for local Muslims. At the top of the mountain stands a small mosque originally built by Babur in 1510. Pilgrims and tourists can reach the mosque through a staircase. The National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex of Kyrgyzstan is also located in the mountain. Babur himself was very fond of Osh. “There are many sayings about the excellence of Osh. On the southeastern side of the Osh fortress is a well-proportioned mountain called Bara-Koh, where, on its summit, Sultan Mahmud Khan built a pavilion. Farther down, on a spur of the same mountain, I had a porticoed pavilion built-in 902 AH (1496-7),” the emperor wrote in his memoir.


(Written by Author and Translator Nilanjan Hajra)