Burana Tower and Burana settlement are located in 12 km from Tokmok town. According to research work of archeologists and historians the settlement are the ruins of ancient city of Balasagyn – a capital of Karahanid khaganate. This city was founded by sogdians in VI-VII centuries and later it got the name of Balasagyn. It was developed city with communication lines: roads, water supply systems, social structures. Running water was coming from the foothills in 15-20 km, where reservoirs existed. At this time the pipes were already ceramic, but the most amazing they have been working till X century. The city was located at the crossroads and so there was an active trade with many countries.
A four-sided bastion and a huge square were located in a central part of the city. There were houses of common people, utility structures, workshops, city market and private lands were located on the square. This area was enclosed by two-row wall. The length of external wall was about 20kms, city’s square was 25-30 sq.km. There was a river running through the city. Different parts and objects of the city were supported with water from the river through water supply system, pipes and aryks (irrigation channel in Central Asia). An old fortress has a four-sided shape (570-600 m). Nowadays, height of the walls of this fortress is 3-4 m. According to archeologists, in first years of building the walls were about 8-10meters. Moreover there were found four prayer houses, construction of bath, ruins of houses, mosques, ruins of sewer pipes and a lot of pottery.
When people here started practicing Islamic belief, the Karajanids were first to accept it. The Burana minaret was constructed inside the city in XI century. Thus it became the first construction of minaret on the territory of Central Asia (you may find similar construction in Uzgen city on the south of Kyrgyzstan). The name “Burana” appeared from Arabic “Monara” (minaret), what means beacon. So why connection between minarets and Arabic beacons – poured burial grounds, is evident. Their resemblance is following. Ramp – is imitation of path, screwing to the tower, and “light” of a minaret – is the tower itself where a lantern was lighted.
Minarets were constructed near mosques to call believers for praying. In first minarets constructed in the countries of Middle East, screw stairs were built on the external part of the construction. After IX century screw stairs were placed inside the minaret. First minarets were built of mud bricks and ended with wooden pavilions. Starting from X century mud minarets were covered with burnt bricks. And later minarets were fully constructed of burnt bricks. A fine example is Burana Tower – minaret of the Djami mosque (ending of X – beginning of XI centuries).
The mosque supposed to be constructed on the west side of the Burana Tower. First altitude of the Burana Tower was 46m. Nowadays it is 25meteres. Probably upper cupola of the tower was destroyed during strong earthquake of XV or XVI centuries. Depth of the foundation of the tower is 5meters. You can go up to the minaret by ladder or by the mosque’s roof, it’s located at an altitude of 5 meters from the foundation. There were three mausoleums (shrines) on the east side of the minaret. The mausoleums are dated from XI-XII centuries.
Among other cities of Central Asia, this city s unique as it was not destroyed during invasion of Chingiz-Khan. Moreover, the Mongolians gave it a name of Gobalyk what means “good city”.
The city of Balasagyn existed till XIV-XV centuries. But in the end the city lost its importance. Life in the city was fading away and citizens were leaving. In XV century municipal buildings turned into ruins. Former capital of the Karakhanids disappeared from earth face; even name of the city was lost. Gravestone texts of local Christians-Nestorians, as well as gravestones with Arabic texts suggest that residents of Balasagyn died from plague, raged here in 30s of XIV century. Nowadays, only remains of the fortress and a huge tower testify silently the existence of the capital of Karakhanids.
9:00 Departure from the city. Transfer to Tokmor town and further to Burana Tower.
10:30 Arrival to the place. Excursion to the museum and Burana Tower (XI c.), sightseeing tour of the remains of once magnificent masoleums (XI - XII c.) - table tombs of powerful governers of the city. Visiting of the museum under the open sky, where you'll see testimonies of stormy life of multiple nations and peole of different doctrines, cultues and beliefs, gathered here from all Chue valley.
12:00-13:30. Return to Bishkek.
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