The tract of Arslanbob is one of the most unique creations of nature, gorgeously blooming oasis, which is situated between mountains of the western and southern slopes of the Fergana and Chatkal ranges of the central Tien Shan. Here, at the height of more than1600 meters above sea level, in the rarest climatic conditions of neighboring air masses excellent nut forests expanded, the total area of which is 700.000 hectares.
Forest age, according to scientists’ researches can exceed 50 million years and their origin is likely to refer back to the Paleolithic period. One of the largest arrays of the forest is located along the rocky cliffs of the Babash-Ata ridge, which skirts as a natural barrier the village of Arslanbob — one of the most famous «holy» places in the Central Asia.
Local forests of nuts are considered to be the largest on the whole planet. Hillsides are chosen by about 130 species of plants, including pistachio, almond, plum, pear, apple, cherry, currant, raspberry and others. But the king of the green realm, without any doubt has always been and still remains a walnut.
Only here you can find copies of up to 30 meters, which age may exceed 1,000 years. But, in spite of so advanced age, the trees bear fruit well and can produce up to 200-400 kilograms of nuts per year.
In general, the walnut is a unique tree, because everything is useful in it: nuts – are a storehouse of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids; leaves and branches that contain iodine and tanning substances, as well as wood, having a wonderful pattern of fibers — an indispensable material for the manufacture of products from high quality tree.
Among the local population there are a great deal of fairy tales and legends associated with this wonderful tree.
Let’s start with the name of the village — Arslanbob. According to legend, it was the name of righteous, whom God left to keep and cultivate the local walnut forests, rewarded for the performance of such works with the eternal life.
Incidentally, there is the shrine of the legendary gardener in the village, classified by the Muslims as a saint. Moreover, there is the mosque nearby, which in former times used to collect a crowd of pilgrims from all over Central Asia. The high ranks of the clergy frequented these places and organized prayer services with the inevitable sacrifice, but later researchers found that there is not any dumping under the mazar.
Since long ago the local inhabitants attributed the Nut-Tree to the relationships with the evil spirit. And everything is because any grass never grows under this tree. In addition, a person, who asleep under it, gets up the next morning with a bad mood, and the headache.
But we are modern and well educated people, who know that the devil has nothing to do with it. All this is a matter of essential oils, which are produced by the leaves of the tree.
In the Caucasus, there is still a way of catching fish with the spring of walnut tree, when a fisherman just stuns trout in the river with intoxicating juice of freshly cut branches.
Scientists argue that the birthplace of walnut may be the extensive range of suitable climate from Thailand, Tibet and the Himalayas, including the Tien Shan, Caucasus, Afghanistan and Iran, down to the Mediterranean coast. However, local residents are quite sure that wonderful walnut’s home is here, citing the fact that the nut forests are distributed throughout the territory of the Ferghana Valley during thousands of years.
Furthermore, there is a perception that this fetus came into Greece from here. How can it be?
Actually, it is very easy to explain.
According to another beautiful local legend, Alexander of Macedon during his campaign to Sogdiana, went through these sites. Literally «close» in the area of modern Khujand he constructed a fortress — Alexandria (one of the latest). The scouts, who were sent to find the way to India brought from the mountains large supplies of walnut and the news that thanks to this wonderful fruit they have recovered from an unknown illness that cruelly tormented almost the entire army during month.
Scientists tend to assume this disease to be the deficit of iodine. Although, I think, everything was much simpler.
Surely, everyone knows «chronic disease» of tourists due to the change of water and diet — banal diarrhea. Thus, skin and kernel of walnut are sufficiently contain iodine and tannins, which are considered to be great help from this «unaesthetic” disease. And of course, prudent Alexander, for sure, stocked up on this wonderful medicine, and brought it, such a way, home.
But the forests of walnut are not the only attraction of this place. Air, nature and mountain landscapes are real treasures of this land.
The tract extends over 10 kilometers along the bustling mining river, on the banks of which there are numerous recreational areas and resorts.
The picturesque alpine meadows spread out around, amazing with a riot of colors, the waterfalls of rare beauty welcome with their coolness on a hot summer day, the mountain caves promise to share the centuries-old secrets, blue lakes, having crystal clear water invite guests to the shelter of coastal trees and talkative mountain streams rush to share the latest news. And over all this splendor, as a mute giant stands peak of Babash-Ata (4490 meters), covered with a cap of no melting snow.