Chatkal River

Rivers and lakes of Kyrgyzstan

Located in the Western Tian Shan mountain range, the Chatkal River flows 189 kilometers through a remote valley in the extreme West of the country. It is flanked by the 120km long mountain range of the same name and the Chandalash range. Walnut groves, along with Semyonov's maple and less frequently ash and tree-like hawthorns are spread along the lower slopes of the Chatkal River, which flows into Uzbekistan.

Traces of early human habitation have been found in cave sites (such as the Obirakhmat and Khodjakent grottoes) where hunting tools, stone processing sites and petroglyphs from the Neolithic period have been discovered. Minerals were extracted from various sites during the Bronze Age (about 3,000 BC); first non-ferrous, then ferrous metals were extracted. Huge burial mounds with bronze vessels have been found dating to this period. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of nomadic cattle-breeding in the area, dating from the early Iron Age. On the lower reaches of the Chatkal river, over 2,000 burial mounds, 30 "tepe" and 3 ancient settlements have been found.

During the Kushan-turk period (dating from the 4th to the 7th centuries), the region was already densely populated. In addition to the nomadic herdsmen, pastoral agriculture and settlements developed - towns developed. Some of the main trade routes of the Silk Road passed through the region. A number of local products were exported far and wide, including silver from the Talas and Chatkal river basins, Sal ammoniac and mercury, and cattle and walnuts from the Aslanbob region.

Slightly southwest of Djani Bazaar is the site of an ancient settlement, Changar Khan, dating from the 10th and 12th centuries. Nearby is the gumbez (mausoleum) of Idris Baygambar - dating from the 19th century.

To the northeast lies the site of the town of Arlankent, which dates from between the 7th and 12th centuries and was the main town of the region - which at that time was known as Djydguil. The town is mentioned in several chronicles dating from the Middle Ages.

Also to the North, in the gorge of Kuru-Tegerek, archaeologists have discovered ancient mining excavations and the site of the ancient settlement of Kurbes Kan. The Besh-Aral Zapovednik (Bio-diversity Reserve) is situated in the Chatkal Valley of the Jalal-Abad Province, 340km from the Province center of Jalal Abad, and 25km from Kanysh-Kiya, the Chatkal Area center.

The Chaktal river is often used for rafting expeditions (although border problems with Uzbekistan have limited recent expeditions), the mountains are used by athletes from the former Soviet countries for "high altitude" training, and the mountain slopes are frequently enjoyed by skiers.