It is located on the crossroads. Roads from here lead to all destinations of the country. Therefore, wherever you go, you will passes Yevlakh. These areas used to be empty fields and swamps. The volatile Kura river used to inundate these lands. Black flies and mosquitoes are everywhere on hot summer days.
The distance to Baku is 287 km. It is located on the right side of the Kura. Roads leading to Khankandi, Mingachevir, Shaki, Balakan and Ganja cross Yevlakh. As a district it was founded in 1936. In 1963, the district was liquidated and joined to Agdas, Barda and Goranboy districts. In 1965, it became a separate district again. It is located in a plain on the right side of the Kura. It has a moderate semi-desert climate. Lower streams of the Alican, Korchay, Incachay rivers belong to the Kura river basin which flows through the center of the town. The south-eastern part of the Mingachevir water reservoir is in the Yevlakh area.
The Tugay forests stretching along the Kura river cover 3,752 hectares. Most of the plants there are bushes. There are trees such as ligature, oak, birch, oleaster, mulberry and poplar growing in Qoyunbinasi-Arabbasra on an area of 658 hectares. The Alaalti forest covers 48 hectares. The trees of this forest include oak and ligature. Besides, a forest has been established on 287 hectares the Yuxari Shirvan canal. Tree planting has dramatically increased in Yevlakh over the recent period and completely changed the town’s appearance.
The biggest and the oldest village in Yevlakh earned popularity due to its secondary school in Soviet years. In the early 1980s, all classrooms here had computers, and the school was second best in the republic for the quality of education and technologies. Vehicles going in all directions pass through Xaldan, so the roadside is always full of people. According to sources, Sassanid rulers built a large and beautiful fortress the 2-3 km from Xaldan in the early 10th century. The fortress was known as Arash.
Remains of the fortress walls in Arash existed in the 11th century. There is an old bridge near the Xaldan village of Yevlakh. It was a medieval feudal state. Seized by the Ottomans in Safavid-Ottoman wars, the sultanate exported raw silk to many countries. Arash sultans were involved in conflict with neighboring khanates. The last ruler was Shahabaddin Sultan. In 1795, the sultanate was annulled and included into the Shaki khanate as a district. Later it became part of Yelizavetpol province and following administrative reform of the czar, Arash became a district in 1873. In 1929 it was annulled.
First archeological excavations in the area were carried out in 1947. Exploration shows that in the early Middle Ages Arash was located on the crossroads of important trade routes (Shirvan, Qarabag, Ganja) and was an important economic and cultural center.
What does Arash mean?
It originates from the word “arsa” in Arabic, which means a fortress, stopping-place. It is a measurement unit equals to the distance from the elbow to fingertips. The measure was used in silk trade since the town was located on the Great Silk Way.
As a trade centre and strategically important settlement, Arash was mentioned among other large Azerbaijani cities such as Tabriz, Ardabil and Shemakha. Findings from a burial mound in Malbinasi village cover a period from the 6th century B.C. and 8th century A.D. The town of Arash broke-up over time, just like the settlements that existed here in ancient periods. Yevlakh’s favorable strategic location attracted the attention of Czarist Russia and in 1803 it was decided to build a railway between Tbilisi and Yevlakh.
Flow of workforce from Russia’s various regions began that year. In the late 19th century there was nothing near the Yevlakh station but reed and ponds. Yevlakh was only a stop for trains between Baku and Tbilisi. French writer Jul Vern’s “Trip of Claudio Bombarnak” dwells on this place. The novel mentions the names of Goran, Yevlakh, Laki and Ujar stations while travelling from Tbilisi to Beijing. The stopover location gradually expanded and turned into a railway station. The flow of people increased following the launch of the station, a processing facility and a hospital. People from Zangezur, Qarabag and Shaki-Zagatala travelled a long distance to reach Yevlakh and onwards to carry various goods. The Mashadi Mammadali Caravansary built near the station for this purpose existed until 1930. Yevlakh turned into a lively settlement in the early 20th century, resulting in the appearance of whitesmiths, cappers, tailors and bakers around the caravansary.
Historical documents of the Middle Ages describe Yevlakh as the gate to Qarabag. Roads to famous pastures Kalbajar, Lachin and Batabat passed through here. It was an old residential settlement located on the crossroads of important communication routes in the centre of the country. The 7th century Alban church in the Marzili village and the Hajilar bridge built of red bricks over the Alijan river in Xanabad village are still there.
Many years before the creation of the railway station Yevlakh had a passage that joined both sides of the Kura river. It is said that the passage was near the bridge that stands there today. The place was known as yolaq. Later yolaq became Yevlakh. Some believe that Yevlakh originates from as ovlaq (hunting place) and duzangah (flat land). Some historians say Yevlakh means a hot place. Another theory is that during the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi railway a Russian engineer Yevlakhov came here and the place was named after him.
People of Yevlakh
First residents of Yevlakh were engineers, workers and builders of the railway and their family members. In 1890, first wooden houses were built for these families between today’s wheat and cotton processing factories. Statistics says that in the early 20th century there were only 500 residents in Yevlakh. Railway construction stopped in 1902. A lot of the money allocated for the construction was left unused. Local engineer Ismayil Bay traveled to St Petersburg, met the czar and received his approval for building hospitals with the money leftover. This is how first hospitals appeared in Xaldan and Agdash.
This word combination was widely known in Soviet years. According to local people, gypsies were settled in Yevlakh in the 1950-60s from Kazakhstan. They gradually moved to other districts and assimilated with the local environment.
The neighborhood is located in a large depression behind willow trees as you pass the old bridge over the Kura river. None of the one-storey wooden houses built have fences. There is no need for this. Gypsies are not interested in talking to strangers. There are about 2,500 gypsies in Yevlakh. They have neither registration nor ID cards, therefore, they can’t travel abroad. One of the traditions in the community is that when a woman marries she promises to earn money and look after the family. Gypsy women mostly make money by begging or fortune-telling, while men spend their time sleeping covered by warm blankets even on hot summer days. They marry at an early age. Most gypsy families have many children.
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