Osh is the second largest city of Kyrgyzstan with 235 000 inhabitants. It is located in the Fergana Valley in the South of the country, and is classified as one of the oldest cities of Central Asia.
Osh has been a silk production center since the 8th century. Babur, the founder of the Mogul empire, made this city important and wrote many sayings about the greatness of Osh. He even had a mosque built at the top of the Sulayman Mountain, where he liked to meditate.
In 1876, the city was conquered and annexed by the Russian empire, during the colonial confrontation with Great Britain known as the “Big game”. In 1939, it became the administrative center of Osh's oblast. Osh started to be industrialized in the 1960s, which contributed to its important development.
However, the city, which is inhabited by a majority of ethnic Uzbeks, has been home to some ethnic clashes since the 1990s, and in the summer of 2010. There were approximately 1,200 casualties and more than 300 deaths.
Osh is a very lively place with its large market in the open air. Its famous bazar offers various local products such as fruits, vegetables or fabrics. It’s an ideal place to discover the local life and exchange with people.
Several monuments are worth the visit, mainly the statue of Queen Kurmanjan Datka in the south, and the remaining statues of Lenin. Not far from the bazaar, you can find the Great Mosque and the Rabat Abdul Khan, an old mosque dating from the 16th century.
Make sure to stop by the Sulayman mountain, a Unesco world heritage site. This historical and sacred place is a major gathering and praying are for Muslims, as well as a place of pilgrimage pre-Islam. You’ll also find there a museum carved into the mountain, that exhibits archeological and historical findings as well as information on the vegetation and animals of the region. Enjoy the panoramic view on Osh and the valley and a hike on the mountain before finishing your visit.
Chinese overnight buses leave from the bus station to Osh on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 8 p.m. However, it is necessary to book tickets a day before departure. The cash register opens from 8:30 a.m. to 5 pm with a break for lunch.
You can also take a collective taxi from Bishkek to Osh. If you want to go to Osh winter, check that this road is open and not too icy. The road takes more or less 12 hours, depending on the weather conditions.
Finally, you can take a plane to get to Osh. The ride, above the high peaks of Kyrgyzstan, will take a bit less than one hour.