Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
96, Boulevard Erkindik, Bishkek,
720040, Kyrgyz Republic
Tel.: +996 (312) 30-46-17, 90-12-95
Fax: +996 (312) 90-12-95

History of Bishkek city

History of Bishkek city

The history of the city of Bishkek, the capital of present day Kyrgyzstan, is one of the shortest in Central Asia. Although a small settlement there had long been of marginal importance to Silk Road travelers as a last resting point before crossing the Tien Shan Mountains into China, its history as a city only really began in 1864.

In 1825, the Kahn of Kokhand had built a small mud fortress where the city now stands. However, by the time Russia invaded in 1862, the Kahn’s army had been so weakened from wars with other Kahns that the Russians easily demolished it. Although the reasons for the invasion are debatable, it seems that panslavicisim, a philosophy akin to and contemporary with Manifest Destiny in America, was at least an idealogical factor.

After The Emancipation in 1864, the new lands held in the fertile black-earth valleys of Kygystan proved a valuable resource for accommodating and effectively utilizing the armies of freed serfs. The government parceled out the land under a grant program and soon secured and developed the area for Russia.

Within two decades of the invasion, a small town had grown up named Pishpek, a Kazakh word which refers to the pole in the churn used to make Kymys, a Kyrgyz national drink of fermented mare's milk. While there is plenty of local mythology surrounding how the name came to be applied to the town, the most likely explanation is simply linguistic corruption. The ancient name for the area around Bishkek was Peshagakh, a Sogdian word meaning "a place below the mountains." The name was likely simply easier to say and appealed to the humor of the Russian military commanders who built and ruled the city.

While Russian rule proved to be advantageous for Russians, it was predictably not for the local population and after the 1917 Revolution there was a strong desire to form an independent state. The resistance to Soviet rule that ensued is still know as "Basmachi," a derogatory word applied by the Russians. The movement was crushed and many towns, including Pishpek, were retaken by the Bolshevik general, M. Frunze, who happened to have been born in Pishpek. As the area's largest city, it became the capital of a newly formed Kyrgyz SSR and was renamed in honor of its Bolshevik conqueror.

The Soviets expanded the industrial base and brought public education, universities, and city services. Yet, of course, this came at enormous cost to the local population and the name "Frunze" was never very popular. In 1991, when Kyrgyzstan declared independence, the name was quickly changed to Bishkek, the Kyrgyz equivalent to the Kazakh "Pishpek."

Today, Bishkek is still Kyrgyzstan's only large city. The economy is based mostly on agriculture and tourism, which is doing well thanks to government supported programs around nearby Lake Issyk Kul, the world's largest glacier-fed lake with slightly salty waters that never freeze. Grassroots tourism is also taking root and villagers lead horse-back tours followed by a night spent in a yurt, a Kyrgyz teepee of sorts.

Inspiro Group - Travel & Logistics

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