Arslanbob (Kyrgyz: Арстанбаб – Arstanbab; Russian: is a village, sub district, valley, mountain range, and a large wild walnut (Juglans regia) forest in the Jalal-Abad Region of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan’s first known export to Europe was the Arslanbob walnut. Two waterfalls are located in the area which attract tourists, pilgrims and other visitors during the spring and summer months
Arslanbob is named after an 11th-century figure, Arslanbob-Ata. He may have been of Arab descent as in that language, Aslan translates to “lion” and bab to “gate”, while in Turkic languages, ata means “father of”. ergo “father of the lion gate”. ‘Bob’, used as a suffix, is a traditional practice used in the Arslanbob which denotes “a traveler and explorer”
The walnut Juglans regia is native to a wide region in Central Asia. By the time of Alexander the Great, the walnut forest was locally known for hunting. He took the walnuts from Sogdiana, and these formed the European plantations. It is also said that he exported the walnut plants to Greece during his campaigns in Central Asia. This is inferred from the usage of the word “Gretski”, meaning “Greek” nuts for walnuts in Russian. Hence, it is nicknamed as the ″Greek nut″
The walnut forest is within the 60,000 hectares (150,000 acres) forest situated between the Fergana and Chatkal Mountains. The walnut forest is located at altitudes varying between 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) and 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) above sea level on the Fergana range’s south-facing slopes. At 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres), the Arslanbob woodland is the largest walnut grove on Earth.
Arslanbob’s grove produces 1500 tonnes of walnuts per year and is the largest single natural source of walnuts on Earth. It is considered a treasure of the southern forests of Kyrgyzstan as the trees have a life span of about 1000 years and yield large amount of fruits known for its medicinal qualities. It is a popular wood for making furniture and other crafts.
World Conservation Union (IUCN) held a workshop in September 1995 at Arslanbob to specifically discuss “an exceptional botanical garden” of walnut fruit trees found in Kyrgyzstan distributed over the two large forest ranges of Arslanbob Kugart and Khoja Ata running east west, which in the past covered an area of 630,900 hectares (1,559,000 acres). However, over the decades of exploitation, the area under walnut trees was reduced.
Various wild forms of other fruit-bearing species including apple (Malus siversiana), pear (Pyrus korshinsky), and plum (Prunus sogdiana).
Behind the town of Arslanbob are the Khrebet Babash-Ata Mountains. There are two waterfalls nearby. One measures 80 metres (260 ft) high and has a slippery scree slope; it is situated in a cliff face north of the village. Another, to the east, is 23 metres (75 ft) in height and has two prayer caves, one of which is known as the Cave of the 40 Angels.Within walking distance is the Dashman Forest Reserve, another walnut forest