Mirzachol - Hunger Steppe

Mirzachol - Hunger Steppe

"If you happen to see the caravan away, you will notice that it is in a hurry to hide from you for fear that you don’t ask for water, which is much cherished here. Lord, help not to stay on the road during the crossings or shedding water available in the reserve. You can be sure that will not get any aid. Add to this the heat of 40 ° Reaumur in the month of May in the shade, a strong reflection of the sun, which unbearably worries eyes, fatigue during the day, and finally, "pleasant" night on the ground in a society with a phalanxes - and you will form an at least approximately notion about the conditions of stay in the Hunger Steppe"- one of the first researchers of the Hunger Steppe, N.F.Ulyanov, wrote in the seventies of the nineteenth century.

Mirzachol - Hunger Steppe

The scientist-geographer, Semyonov-Tien Shan, in his book "Turkestan" gives the following description of the Hunger steppe: "In the summer, the Hunger Steppe is a yellow-gray plain burnt by the sun that when the scorching heat and the complete absence of life justifies its name ... In May grass turns yellow, paints fade, birds fly, turtles hide in burrows, and the steppe again becomes lifeless, parched space on the horizon of which barely visible in the hot air the distant snowy peaks looms."

But the desert only seemingly was dead; it harbored rich opportunities for the benefit of people. A green grass in early spring, bright red fields of poppies talked about soil fertility. For that summer did not bring to the steppe lifelessness of the desert, it was necessary to counter the searing heat life-giving water. People did it thanks to irrigation of the Hunger Steppe. 

Hunger steppe in Uzbekistan

Dozens of new engineering solutions received a start in life in the Hungry Steppe. Here, the first in Uzbekistan engineering irrigation system was built.

It is difficult to say when and who first called it the Hunger Steppe. Now this name sounds stark contrast that covers the eyes of people traveling and living here. But a hundred or a hundred and thirty years ago, when the first explorers set foot here, the name was justified by the reality. Apparently, to someone from these pioneers belongs the idea to give such an apt and intimidating name.

The places were called the Hunger Steppe (another variant - Hungry Steppe) or Golodnaya Steppe, and the local people called it "Mirzachol".

Golodnaya Steppe, Uzbekistan

The Golodnaya Steppe geographically defines the vast plain with the length of over 150 km, inclined from the foothills of the Turkestan range in the floodplain of the Syr Darya river within the middle of its course, from the Farkhad corridor to the hole Chardara. In the west, the Mirzachol Steppe is limited by the Arnasay depression and the lake Tuzkan - a huge water area, waste tank of Syr Darya. This natural body of water lying at the lowest elevations in the Golodnaya Steppe - about 240 m. separates it from the boundless steppe sands of the Kyzyl kum desert. The width of the Mirzachol Steppe along the Turkestan range is 70-120 km.

Climate in the Golodnaya Steppe

The climate of the Golodnaya Steppe is sharply continental. The average temperature in July +27,9 ° C, in January - 2,1 ° C.

Golodnaya steppe in Uzbekistan

One of the distinguishing features of the climate is that rainfall in the Golodnaya Steppe is in the range of 250 to 350 mm, which is much higher than in the Fergana Valley, Khorezm, Kashkadarya, etc. The distribution of rainfall over time is also favourable: they fall mainly in winter and spring, and contribute to the accumulation of natural moisture during and after planting, in which seedlings of the most crops are obtained on the natural moisture.

Development of the Golodnaya Steppe in Uzbekistan

The development of the Golodnaya Steppe dates from the end of the XIX century, when the steppe finally became a part of the Russian Empire. Before the First World War in the Mirzachol the construction of irrigation canals was started.

Nevertheless, the wide involvement of the Golodnaya Steppe lands into economic circulation is associated with Soviet times of the year 1918, when by the decree of the Council of People's Commissars it was envisaged to irrigate 500 thousand acres of land in the Mirzachol desert. In 1956, for the purpose of development of cotton monoculture, extensive spaces of the Golodnaya Steppe were flooded. This made it possible to transform the barren deserts into a large area (an area of about 800,000 hectares) of cotton in the Uzbek SSR.

Mirzachol desert

The irrigation of the Golodnaya Steppe ended with the victory of engineering thought, engineering, and scientific developments of advanced Russian intelligentsia - scientists, engineers, agronomists, specialists; and victory of simple Uzbek farmers who had proven the ability to cope with the desert. New farms, towns and villages grew in the Golodnaya Steppe.

Legends and stories about the Mirzachol desert

The past of the Mirzachol Steppe is associated with the legends and tales, in which people expressed their desire to irrigate the desert.

In one legend, for example, it is told that the space from the village Chinaz to the city of Jizzakh all was settled; and there was so much greenery and trees that a nightingale could fly from one village to another, flitting from branch to branch. In this legend dream of the peoples of mastering the empty steppe was clearly reflected.

The poetic legend about Farhad and Shirin, sung by Alisher Navoi is connected with the Mirzachol Steppe.

The geographical location of the Golodnaya Steppe constantly attracted its attention at all stages of modern history. For many centuries ancient caravan routes from the Sogd-State referred in the IV century BC and covering the irrigated area in the valley of Zarafshan and middle reaches of the Amu Darya - in Shash (Tashkent), in Fergana and further along the Great Silk Road to China, passed here. The troops of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan marched here. Along the Turkestan Range there was a caravan route mail, the surviving villages - Yam are evidence of which.

Legends and stories about the Mirzachol desert

Also in the records of the chronicler Abdul Gazi (the beginning of the XII century) information about the presence along the Syr Darya river settlements with developed agriculture preserved. In 1219 the hordes of Genghis Khan annihilated these towns and destroyed the irrigation canals. For many years life came to a standstill here. From the reports of Arab Ibn Batut, who traveled to Turkestan, it is clear that at this time near the Syr Darya River there were rare, very poor villages, the inhabitants, of which were predominantly the pastoralists.

Today in the Mirzachol there are collective farms, inter-farm enterprises, cooperatives, hundreds of peasant farms.

The abundance of warm and sunny days, long summers and mild winters beneficially effect on the whole agricultural sector. In the summer slovenly hot dry winds blow.  They do not very favorable effect on farm crops. But this period does not last long. 247 days a year there are warm days.

Mirzachol melons

Famous Mirzachol melons which are notable for extremely sweet and delicate flavor are grown in the Golodnaya Steppe.

Mirzachol melon belongs to the late-ripening variety, the season of which is in August-September. Probably the most favorite melons by the Uzbek are big, sweet but not sugary, refreshing and saturating Mirzachol melons.

Mirzachol melons

The flesh of melons contains a lot of useful substances: vitamins, minerals, carotene, folic acid, fiber and a lot of enzymes that improve the functioning of the bowels.

The melon pulp is juicy, bright white, has excellent taste, dropping-down and becoming stronger during storage.

Mirzachul melon is really a great product, about which one can talk a lot.

It is known, for certain, that the melons of the present Uzbekistan sort "Mirzachol" in the 17th and 18th century conquered many countries up to England.

Today travelers from over the world can visit Uzbekistan and taste famous delicious Mirzachul melons, and that is more important and interesting to book a tour to the Golodnaya Steppe in Uzbekistan. 

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