Aghdash

Although it is one of the most ancient and beautiful corners of Shirvan, it is called the “centre of Aran”.

Aran

In Azerbaijan, areas with hot summers, moderate winters and plains are called aran. It is located between the Kura-Aras plains. This zone has major cotton-growing districts and winter pastures. The geographical term Aran, which means a negative terrain, implies an “even place” or a “winter pasture” in our language. The word Aran, which is of purely Turkic origin and has been known since the second century, means a “hot place”. Many sources mention an ancient Turkic tribe called Aran. It is known from history that in the early Middle Ages, there was a tribe called Aran among the Kipchaks who lived in Russian steppes. Since then, they started to migrate to Azerbaijan. The dictionary of the 11th century researcher, Mahmud Kashgari, says that the word aran means “a stall, a cattle-shed or a place where animals are kept”. There also people who associate this word with another name of Caucasian Albania – Arran.

Note

The distance between Baku and Agdas is 249 km. It is located in the northwestern part of the Shirvan plain, in the south of the Acihonur Mountains, in the Aran economic-geographic district and in the centre of the country. The northern part of the mainly lowland territory hosts the Bozdag Mountain Ridge which reaches 700 meters in height. There are grey meadows here. It has a semi-desert and arid steppe landscape. The Baku-Tbilisi railway, the Yuxari Shirvan and Bas Shirvan canals, as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa oil pipelines pass through this territory. Agdash has a moderate, hot semi-desert and arid steppe climate. In 1958, a water junction was built on the Turyanchay River which divides the district into two. 10 per cent of its territory is covered with forests. The district hosts most of the Turyanchay State Nature Reserve.

Turyanchay

Turyanchay, which is the left tributary of the Kura River, begins on the southern slopes of the Main Caucasus Mountain Ridge at a height of 3,680 meters and flows into the Kura by means of an artificial canal. The 180-km river was first mentioned in a 15th century source. The word Turyan is believed to be a derivative of the word turgin which means “fast, swift or strong” in ancient Turkic languages. The place-name means a fast flowing river. It passes through Agdash, Ujar and Zardab districts.

History

Oguz Khan, the mythological ancestor of Azerbaijani Turks, settled in Shirvan in ancient times. The names of his family and clan are common everywhere in this area. The whole richness of the national character and folklore manifests itself to a greater extent in Shirvan. The ancient Greek author Strabo (1st century BC) recorded that people who lived in the medium and lower reaches of the Turyanchay actively used this river for agricultural and navigation purposes. This area, which was called Arash in the Middle Ages, was subordinate to the Shirvan principality. Agdash District was established in 1930 in place of the Arash district which was abolished in 1929. The district centre was granted status as a city in 1900. One of the first centres of education in Azerbaijan was the “Russian-Tatar” school which opened in Agdash in 1882.

Tourism

There is no point in talking about attractions for visitors to Agdash. Almost all cars stop near a famous roadside shrine, and travellers get off to pray and make donations. There is no tourism infrastructure in the district. Along with that, some facilities should definitely be mentioned.

Historical monuments

One of the most important and surviving monuments is an 18th century caravanserai and the ruins of the 18th century Surxay fortress on the border with Goychay between the villages of Arab and Kukal.

There are plenty of shrines in Agdash: Uveys al-Qarani, Arabocagi and Haci Bulud are the most famous ones.

Place-name

It consists of the words ag and dash. The word dash is interpreted as dish here. Dish means outside. It means a whitish grey steppe. The word dash was used as meaning “outside” in Kitabi Dada Qorqud epics. The word ag means color in all place-names. Once the cultivation and export of technical plants to the world market began in the late 19th and early 20th century, the area turned into centre producing, processing and selling cotton. This is proved by the fact that the first congress of Caucasus cotton-growers was convened in Agdash in 1904. Cotton-growing takes a special place in the district economy.

White gold

It is a name given to cotton. Absheron is famous for its “black gold” and Aran for its “white gold”. There is a cotton-processing factory in Agdash. Processing factories were established here after the Baku-Tbilisi railway was built in 1883 and thus, the cultivation and export of technical plants began here. When in 1883 cotton-processing machine tools and compression tools were brought here for processing and packaging cotton, Agdash turned into a centre producing, processing and selling cotton in the whole of the Caucasus in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, Kavkaz newspaper wrote:

“Agdash is a centre that produces all raw silk and silkworm sent abroad – Marseille and Italy.” The liquorice root processing factory, which was built in Laki in 1886, exported liquorice dye to America and France. Unfortunately, Agdash people can no longer boast about over-fulfilling five-year plans of the socialist period. This district was also affected by the industrial stagnation that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the “white gold” lost its former value.

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