Among the ancient majestic towns of Sogdiana on the west, the lands of enigmatic and mysterious China on the east, boundless Kazakh steppes - the motherland of nomads on the north and the alpine "World roof" Pamir on the south, there is a small but beautiful mountainous country located among the "Celestial Mountains" ridges of the hoary Tian-Shan covered by eternal snow and ice. This country is nowadays known as Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan is the country of amazing contrasts. This is the country of the powerful mountains covered by eternal snows and alpine meadows with the flower carpets, the country of impetuous mountain rivers with the foaming waterfalls and the steppes smelling sagebrush, this is the country of the blue lakes and green valleys.
88 powerful ridges of the great Tian-Shan mountain system translated as “Celestial Mountains” by long chains go from the West to the East. They fully justify their name as most of the mountains lead their summits over the snow line, there are the most known peaks such as Pobeda (7439 m), the pyramid of the legendary Khan-Tengri (6995 m) and many others. Not less grand system on the territory of Kyrgyzstan is Pamyr with its summit – Lenin peak (7134 m)
There are more than two thousands mountain lakes of different origins. Here you may find the gigantic lakes which by their water amount and depth can bet with some seas. One of that kind of phenomenon is an alpine lake called Issyk-Kul which never freezes and has its own comfortable microclimate and golden beaches. Other not less unique lakes in Kyrgyzstan are such as the lake of Son-Kul located on the height of 3060 m above the sea level and being a cradle for modern nomads which take their cattle to its summer pastures; the lake of Sary-Chelek which is considered to be the most beautiful lake on the territory of Kyrgyzstan being encircled by the mountains with forests and walnut groves; but one of the most phenomenal lakes in Kyrgyzstan and in the whole world is the Mertzbaher’s lake located on Inilchek glacier. It’s phenomenon is that it accumulates in the period of some months and then in two-three days it completely disappears. The reason for that is still unknown, that’s why many scientists from all over the world rush to its shores to get the mystery unrevealed.
Kyrgyzstan is rich not only with its nature beauties but also with its cultural inheritance. Travelling along the country you may submerge into a thousand years history, live in yurts with nomads, have a horse-back riding along Jailoo to the ancient nomads’ settlements, unravel the mystery of stone inscriptions and get acquainted with the Manas legend – the biggest inheritance of all times and nations. Feel yourself a merchant of the Great Silk Road, buy souvenirs going through the rows of the biggest colorful flee market of Osh town and go up the “Sacred Suleiman-Too Mountain”.
Each person likes the adventures and travels at least a little and you will definitely find yourself an interesting thing to do in this amazing country where International Tourists Center “Asia Mountains” is eager to help you with the choice. We are waiting for you!!!
General information about Kyrgyz visa
Who needs Kyrgyz visa?
According to Kyrgyz Republic legislation, citizens who need Kyrgyz visa in order to come to Kyrgyzstan have to have valid Passport and visa with them. Visa can be obtained at Kyrgyz embassies abroad (if there’s no Kyrgyz embassy and Kyrgyz Republic representative office, you may get visa in Kazakh embassy or at the consular section of Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the airport in Bishkek upon arrival).
One may not get Kyrgyz visa at the customs crossing the border by foot or by auto-transport.
- Tourist visa is given to the citizens coming to the country with the aim of travel. Tourist visas can be of single or double type up to 3 months.
- There is also a group kind of visa made for the organized tours in Kyrgyzstan for tourist groups. Mandatory condition for this visa is the simultaneous border cross by all visa members at the entry and the exit of Kyrgyz Republic and also their joint movement along Kyrgyz territory in a group membership.
- If a foreigner doesn’t have a right for visa-free country cross then transient visa is given to him/her if he/she has all the documents such as valid visa, travel documents and other papers proving his right of third country visit.
- For the people that have lost their passport or other document on the territory of Kyrgyzstan the exit visa is given to him/her giving the right to cross Kyrgyz border. The exit visa is also given to the people that have to be excluded from the territory of Kyrgyz Republic – according to Kyrgyz courts’ act of foreigner exclusion. Visa of this kind is given only for country exit.
- Visa support is provided if there is no Kyrgyz embassy in the country of living. The citizens of such countries may get visa at the embassy of Kazakhstan. (For example Spain, France, Israel and other).
Visa support is also provided for the citizens the countries of which are not included in the lists:
- List of the countries for the citizens of which there is a simplified visa process (visa is obtained by the oral statement).
- List of countries for the citizens of which there is a unilateral vise-free regime for the period of 60 days.
The lists are given below.
The information needed for visa obtainment:
- Your passport data
- Strict dates of your being in our country
- Flight number (if you want to get visa at the Bishkek “Manas”airport upon arrival)
The information should be sent not less than 15days prior to your arrival.
List of countries for citizens of which having all kinds of passports there is a visa-free regime in Kyrgyzstan:
1. Under the agreement of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Community (year 2000).
3. The Russian Federation
2. Under the bilateral agreement between the former USSR and these countries
3. Under the bilateral agreement between Kyrgyzstan and these countries
1. Malaysia (up to 90 days)
2. Turkey (up to 90 days)
3. Ukraine (up to 90 days)
4. Uzbekistan (up to 60 days)
5. Mongolia (up to 90 days)
4. Under the agreement of the CIS (year1992) “About visa-free movement of citizens of the CIS countries in CIS”
5. In accordance with the government acts # 735 from 31.12.1999 and # 262 from 04.06.2001 for the citizens of Japan there is a visa-free entrance into Kyrgyzstan unilaterally in perpetuity.
List of countries for citizens of which there is unilateral visa-free regime in Kyrgyzstan up to 60 days from 14.07.2012:
Visa-free regime for these countries acts until 31.12.2020
1. Australian union
2. The Republic of Austria
3. Kingdom of Belgium
4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
8. The Federal Republic of Germany
9. Kingdom of the Netherlands
10. Hellenic Republic
11. The Kingdom of Denmark
14. Kingdom of Spain
15. The Italian Republic
17. Republic of Korea
18. State of Kuwait
19. The Republic of Latvia
20. The Republic of Lithuania
21. Knyazhestvo Liechtenstein
22. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
23. The Republic of Malta
24. The Principality of Monaco
25. New Zealand
26. The Kingdom of Norway
27. United Arab Emirates
28. The Republic of Poland
29. Portuguese Republic
30. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
31. The Republic of Singapore
32. The Slovak Republic
33. The Republic of Slovenia
34. United States of America
35. The Republic of Finland
36. The French Republic
37. The Republic of Croatia
38. The Czech Republic
39. The Swiss Confederation
40. Kingdom of Sweden
41. Republic of Estonia
42. The State of Qatar
43. State of Brunei Darussalam
44. Kingdom of Bahrain
List of countries for the citizens of which in accordance with the government acts # 87 from 07.02.2009, # 125 from 12.07.2010 and 405 from 25.07.2011 there is a simplified visa process. They may get visa at Kyrgyz embassy or at the Consulate department at the Bishkek “Manas” airport by the oral statement.
8. The Sultanate of Oman
15. San Marino
22. South Africa
In the terms of the agreement between the Government of Kyrgyzstan and the Government of Kazakhstan signed on 26th April 2009 in Bishkek about the KR and RK tourist visa given to the third countries’ citizens mutual recognition on the territories bordering with Kazakh Republic regions of Issyk-Kul, Talas and Chu valleys of Kyrgyzstan and bordering with Kyrgyz Republic Alamata, Djambyl regions of Kazakhstan:
The citizens of the countries written below in accordance with the national legislation of KR and RK have right in the valid visa term have the right to enter and exit the multilateral checkpoints on the earlier mentioned regions’ territories unhindered. In this case tourist visas given by the countries of this agreement should be at least of a double type which will give the right to the person to enter and exit Kyrgyzstan territory as well as the territory of Kazakhstan.
The list of countries citizens of which may enter Kazakhstan Republic with Kyrgyz tourist visa:
2. Republic of Austria
3. Kingdom of Belgium
4. U.K. and Northern Ireland
6. The Kingdom of Denmark
7. Republic of Ireland
8. Republic of Iceland
9. Kingdom of Spain
10. The Italian Republic
12. The Principality of Liechtenstein
13. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
14. Federation of Malaysia
15. The Principality of Monaco
16. Kingdom of the Netherlands
17. The Kingdom of Norway
18. New Zealand
19. Portuguese Republic
20. The Republic of Singapore
21. United States of America
22. The Republic of Finland
23. The French Republic
24. The Federal Republic of Germany
25. The Swiss Confederation
26. Kingdom of Sweden
28. Republic of Korea
29. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
30. The Slovak Republic
31. The Republic of Hungary
32. The Republic of Poland
33. United Arab Emirates
34. The State of Israel
35. The Republic of Croatia
The list of countries citizens of which may enter Kyrgyzstan with Kazakh tourist visa:
2. Republic of Austria
3. Kingdom of Belgium
5. U.K. and Northern Ireland
6. Hellenic Republic
7. The Kingdom of Denmark
8. Republic of Ireland
9. Republic of Iceland
10. Kingdom of Spain
11. The Italian Republic
13. The Principality of Liechtenstein
14. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
15. Federation of Malaysia
16. The Principality of Monaco
17. Kingdom of the Netherlands
18. The Kingdom of Norway
19. new Zealand
20. Portuguese Republic
21. The Republic of Singapore
23. United States of America
24. The Republic of Finland
25. The French Republic
26. The Federal Republic of Germany
27. The Swiss Confederation
28. Kingdom of Sweden
30. Republic of Korea
31. The Slovak Republic
32. The Republic of Hungary
33. The Republic of Poland
34. The State of Israel
35. The Republic of Croatia
36. The Czech Republic
Ambassies and consulates of Kyrgyz Republic abroad
Kyrgyz Embassy in Russia
119017, Moscow, Bolshaya Ordynka st.,64, code:00-7-499, tel.: 237-48-82, fax: 951-60-62
Kyrgyz Embassy in Ukraine
252901, Kiev, Malo-kitaevskaya st., 48а,
code: 00-380-44, tel/fax.: 524-09-24;
Kyrgyz Embassy in Belarus Republic
220002, Minsk, Starovilenskaya st., 57,
code: 00-375-17; tel.: 334-91-17; fax: 334-16-02
Kyrgyz Embassy in Turkmenistan
744000 Ashgabat, Garashsyzlyk st., 17,
code: 00-993-12; tel.: 48-22-95; fax: 48-22-94
Kyrgyz Embassy in Tadjikistan Republic
Dushanbe, Soid-Nosir st., 56 а, tel/fax: (00-992-37) 224-26-11, (00-992-41) 100-00-56
Kyrgyz Embassy in Uzbekistan
700 000, Tashkent, H. Samatovoi st., 30,
code: 00-998-71; tel: 237-47-94, fax: 120-72-94
Kyrgyz Embassy in Kazakhstan
Astana, Diplomatic town, В-5,
code:00-7-7172, tel.:24-20-24, fax: 24-24-14
General Consulate of KR in Kazakhstan
Almaty, 480012, Luganskaya st., 30"А"
code: 00-7-7272 tel.: 64-22-12, 91-66-10 fax: 64-22-11
Kyrgyz Embassy in Islamic Republic of Iran
PO code: 195 793 5611, bldg. 12, 5th Naranjestan Alley, Pasdaran street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran,
код:00- 98-21, тел.: 228-303-54, факс: 222-817-20
Consulate in Mesghed town: код: ++98-511, тел.: 604-03-64
General Consulate of KR in Russia
620094, Ekaterinburg, Bolshakova st., 105
code: 007-343, tel.: 257-76-14, fax: 257-76-14
Vice-Consulate of KR in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk, Krasnyi prospekt st., №220, building 10, room 503 code: 383, tel.: 210-66-24
Kyrgyz Embassy in Chinese Nation Republic
H 10/11 King's Villas №18, Xiauyun Road, Beijin 100016, China
code: 00-86-10, tel: 6532-6459, fax: 6468-1291
Kyrgyz Embassy in Kingdon of Saudi Arabia
Er-Riad t., region of King-Fahad ,
Muhammed Hamid Al Fikki st., 32.
post code 75871 - Er-Riad.
tel: 00-966-1-229-3273/ 00-966-1-229-3272
Kyrgyz Embassy in India
India, New-Deli-110021, C-93, Anand Niketan
code: 00-91-11 tel: 2411-80-08, 2411-19-03, fax: 2411-80-09
Kyrgyz Embassy in Great Britain and North Ireland
Great Britain, London W1U 6BJ, Ascot house 119, Krauford st.
fax: 00-44-20 7935-7449, tel: 00-44-20 7935-1462
Kyrgyz Embassy in Malaysia
Malaysia, Kula Lumpur 50400, 10th floor, Wisma Sin Heap Lee, 346 Jalan Tun Razak, code: 00-60-3, tel.: 2163-2012, fax: 2163-2024
Kyrgyz Embassy in Japan
153-0064 Japan, Tokio, Meguro-Ku, Shimomeguro 5-chome, 6-16
Kyrgyz Embassy in USA and Canada
Massachusetts ave. 2360, District of Coulmbia, USA, Post code 20008, tel.: 001-202 449-92-22,
Kyrgyz Embassy in Switzerland, Permanent Mission at UN and other international organizations in Geneva
Rue du Lac 4-6, 1207 Geneve, Confederation Suisse,
code:00- 41-22, тел: 707-92-20;
fax: 00-41-22 707-92-21
Permanent Mission at UN and other international organizations in New-York
866 The United Nations Plaza, Suite 477, New-York,
N.Y. 10017, code: 00-1-212, tel.: 486-42-14 fax: 486-52-59
Kyrgyz Embassy in Kingdom of Belgium
47, rue de l`Abbaye/Abdijstraat 1050, Bruxelles/Brussel,
Royaume de Belgique,
code: 00-32-2, tel.: 640-18-68, fax: 640-01-31
Kyrgyz Embassy in Austria
Invalidenstr. 3/8, 1030 Vienna
code: 00-431, tel: 535-03-79, fax: 535-03-79-13
Kyrgyz Embassy in Germany
Otto-Suhr-Allee 146, 10585 Berlin
code: 00-49-30, tel.: 347-81-338, fax: 347-81-362 (337),
Kyrgyz Embassy in Turkey
Turan Gunes Bulvari 571, Caddesi No. 21,Yildiz/Oran-Ankara 06450
code: 00-90-312, tel.: 491-35-06, 491-35-07 fax: 491-35-13
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.kgembassy.org.tr
General Consulate in Turkey
Lamartin caddesi, #7, Taksim, Istanbul - Turkey,
code:00- 90- 212, tel.: 235-67-67, fax: 235-92-93
General Consulate in UAE
Dubai, Deira, Port Saeed, Mohd. Saeed Harib Bldg, Suit № 204
Tel.: 00-971-4 236-44-53,
fax: 00-971-4 236-44-05
Kyrgyz Embassy in Islamic Republic of Pakistan
House №163, Str.36, Sector F-10/1, 44000 Islamabad
Tel.: 00-92-51 221-21-96,
fax: 00-92-51 221-21-69
Consulate department of Kyrgyz Embassy in Islamic Republic of Pakistan
15/1, Main Khayaban-e-Ghazi, Phase-V,
Dafence Officers, Housing Authority Karachi-Pakistan
code: 00-9221, tel: 537-44-47, fax: 537-44-48
Visa department MFA in China
830063, КНР, г. Urumqi, North Hetan Road № 58
tel.: 00-86-991 518-99-80,
fax: 00-86-991 518-99-85
Kyrgyz Embassy in Korea
Namsong B/D 403 Itaewon dong, 260-199, Yougsan-gu Seoul, Republic of Korea 140-22
code:00-82-2, тел.: 379-09-51,
The history of Nomads
The history of Nomads
We are all used to the life in towns, maybe not in very big but towns. Not many of us can boast with the fact that they had a chance to live in the mountains for weeks and the life there is not only better for your health(fresh air, clean mountain water, curative herbs and different types of berries) but can sometimes also be more interesting. Yes, the life in the town is much busier but what do we say to our relatives and friends when they ask us “How is everything?” “It’s ok, nothing new – home, work, kids”. The only exception here may be a vocation or a business trip. But you probably have been to the mountains and were surprised by the measured pace of the life there. What do our modern nomads do? “Graze their cattle” – you would answer… And that's it? So let’s go a little bit back and see the real nomads, their life and what they had to do to survive in difficult and cruel time.
On the territory of Central Asia some time very long ago and if to be exact on 6-7 centuries BC there appeared the culture of ancient nomad-shepherds which have made the seasonal migrations with a great amount of sheep and horses. They got the territory from Northern Black Sea, Kazakhstan, Middle Asia and Southern Siberia. By the Persian sources these were Saka tribes and in the ancient Greek sources they were mentioned as Scythians. It’s believed that the term “Sak” meant the “mighty man” (warrior). They spoke one of the Eastern-Iranian languages which was known for the Eastern Turkestan as Khotan-Saka language. In 5-6 centuries BC the Saka tribes were united in two big confederacies of tribes. On the territory of Kyrgyzstan in its northern regions lived Tigrahauda Saka (sharp-hat Saka), which had high hubcaps and in the southern regions there were Haumavarga Saka which worshipped “Hauma” (sacred plant). Their army had a very high international authority and was considered to be invincible. In the 6th century BC Tigrahauda Saka tribes had to fight with Persians for the independence. In the first battle Persians decided to make a trap for Sakas: they left the camp leaving there a lot of wine and as Sakas were not used to it presumably having their own intoxicants such as hashish and fermented goat milk after drinking wine they fell into a severe intoxication. Persians attacked the camp when Sakas were powerless and having broken Saka forces they captured Spargapis – the commander of Saka army and the son of Tomiris (Saka queen). About one third of all Saka forces were captured and then killed. According to Herodotus, Spargapis persuaded Kir II (king of Persia) to take his shackles off which let him to commit suicide in the Persian captivity. Tomiris grieved over the loss of her son and has sent Kir a letter denouncing his treachery and asking him for the second battle. According to Herodotus in the second fight Saka won the battle and Kir was killed. Tomiris beheaded and crucified his body. The head of the kind she put in a bowl with blood with the words “I have promised to quench your thirst for blood and I’ll do it”.
Saka tribes were also fighting with Alexander Macedonian and for couple of times gave him a powerful rebuff but still couldn’t win. In the battle in 329 fighting with the army of Macedonian thousands of Saka warriors died though Greek-Macedonians lost only 160 people in that battle. Alexander Macedonian died in 323 BC and in the middle of the second century left Saka tribes were conquered by the nomadic tribes of Usuns.
At first Usun tribes were nomadizing next to Huns and Yuezhi tribes at the western side of the Great Wall of China. At about 160 BC having conquered Sakas and Yuezhi they migrated to Tian-Shan and Seven Rivers. Here they have founded their own state which was mentioned in Chinese chronicles as “Usun Btszu” (Usun tribes). The General Headquarters was the town Chigu-Chiguchen (the town of the red valley) on the bottom of the Tyup Bay (Issyk-Kul lake). The state of Usuns was an early class formation with the remnants of the tribal organization. The power of Kunbag (the king of Usuns – “prince of the tribes”) was hereditary and all his deeds were done on the base of the Council of Elders. In the state apparatus there were not less than 16 officials. Usun army by the measures of those times was a very powerful force. China and Huns dominating the Central Asia had to consider them. At the period of their state foundation the Great Silk Road started to operate between China and the countries of Mediterranean (II c BC). The main riches of Usuns in this trade were their horses which were much better and more beautiful than the Chinese short horses. Besides the exchange of goods on the Great Silk Road there was the exchange of Cultural valuables between East and West.
From the second part of II century BC Usuns were drawn into the big politics of Han Empire (China). Following the desire to make the most powerful forces in Central Asia their allies Usuns started to arrange repeated dynastic marriages of Kunbags with the princesses of Han and Hun powers. Though it made them no good as it has led to the formation of two vying branches in Kunbag’s dynasty: “Han” and “Hun”. Hun tribes were very concerned of Usun forces that were growing from day to day and decided to fight the eastern Usuns’ possessions. But Usuns had signed an agreement with Han Empire about joint military actions and in 71 BC have completely destroyed the Huns.
A powerful tribal Union of Turkic Huns was formed in the III century BC and in a very short period of time it widened its borders: on the West they destroyed the nomadic Yuezhi, on the South – China which was obliged to pay a humiliating tribute to Huns, though Huns couldn’t conquer the whole China. In 201 according to Chinese sources Hun’s khan sent his big army to the west and conquered Gyanguni (these were the tribes of ancient Kyrgyz people) and Dinlins (Caucasoid population of Yenisei river). Kyrgyz power was already formed in III century BC and in 99 BC its ruler was a captivated by Huns Chinese general Li Lin which has defeated Chinese being in charge of Kyrgyz cavalry as a part of Hun’s troops. Kyrgyz power on the Eastern Tian-Shan was destroyed by Huns in 49 BC. The remains ran away to Yenisei river. Very soon Huns migrated onto the territory of modern Kyrgyzstan where they were defeated by Chinese army. The khan of Huns was captured and beheaded. Some part of Huns obeyed the winners and some of them ran to the West.
The first information about Kyrgyz tribes can be found in Chinese historical sources and is of 201 BC. The first mention of Kyrgyz people has a big value for the history of Kyrgyz folk because due to that source we know that the Kyrgyz power has existed already in III century BC (one-tribe union with the rudiments of statehood). Besides the ethnonym “Kyrgyz” is the oldest name among all now existing Turkic nations. As we have already mentioned in 99 BC the rules of their state was a captivated by Huns Chinese general Li Lin but unfortunately all the information about them is lost with their defeat in 49 BC.
After that the history of Kyrgyz people is continued on the territories of Yenisei river. It’s known that ancient Kyrgyz tribes living on Yenisei had a complex industry where the semi-nomadic pastoralism and agriculture were combined. In the mountain Taiga they were hunting and herding the reindeer. Their houses were of three types: yurts, frame buildings with a gable roof and hexagonal frame constructions. Ancient Kyrgyz people were living in summer stays, small villages and permanent settlements the largest of which consisted of 75 houses.
Dead people were burnt and the ash was buried in groundwater wells under the masonry and extensive ancestral tombs-crypts. The Society of ancient Kyrgyz people was at the stage of primitive society decomposition. It was based on freemen over whom there was a privileged stratum of the nobility.
After the Great Silk Road foundation the towns started to grow which led to the formation of states on the territory of Central Asia. There were less and less nomadic tribes though there have still existed separate tribes which didn’t change their roots and made seasonal migrations from steppes to mountains and vice versa. They also payed their tribute to the economy of different states and trade on the Great Silk Road as such goods as horses, sheep, camels, leather, skins and wool merchants were buying only from them. In the 6th century a very powerful force on the territory of Central Asia was Turkic Khanate which controlled all the main parts of Great Silk Road which provided Turkic nobility with a huge profit from the caravan trade. Though the Turkic tribes themselves didn’t live in the towns but as their ancestors were nomadizing providing only the protection in their domains.
Today you may hardly find the real nomads, but you may see how they lived before, get acquainted with their way of life and their traditions. Come with us on an enthralling tour and together with us feel the history and ancient life of nomadic tribes which was preserved by modern Kyrgyz people.
Kyrgyzstan on the Great Silk Road
Kyrgyzstan on the Great Silk Road.
Once, very long ago huge caravans were going through the territory of Kyrgyzstan this and that way. Sometimes for hundreds of days camels loaded with the big amount of different precious goods went through the whole Central Asia over high snowy Tian-Shan mountains, along wide steppes, fording wild rivers, getting around lakes and seas, in the terrible heat and extreme cold. From the very heart of China they brought the precious fabric –silk. A great amount of it was ordered by many rulers and nobles from all parts of the old world starting from Byzantium, Northern Africa and Middle East to the territories of the small and big tribes and nations adjacent to China. Nothing could stop these long rows loaded with different kinds of riches. Together with the silk camels carried Indian gems, Iranian silver jewelry, rich cloths from Byzantium, Baltic amber, Mediterranean corals, ceramics, grapes, alfalfa and herbs, all this was left by the caravans in big towns on the way of the Great Silk Road. One can’t say that traders went all the way from China to Rome, most of the time because of instability and tribal feuds they went only some part of the way, sometimes only from one town to another, people bought the goods and took them further; at the very end the price of these goods raised so much that in Europe Chinese things were bought only by noble and powerful people and vice versa the goods from Europe were difficultly brought to China and were very expensive. To make the trip profitable, the caravan should have contained many camels and donkeys and the cost of it was very high, so many traders were united in trade unions which let to operate with big amount of riches on big territories. It’s hard to believe but in those times there already were some kinds of banks. Person didn’t have to bring all the money with him, he could give them to the person of a decent commercial confidence and take a check from him (“check” is a Persian word, in this case meaning the “document”), upon his arrival to the other city he could show this check and get his amount of money at the other money jobber.
So, let’s get it clear why it is definitely a Silk Road. At the times when the tribes didn’t know about each others’ existence a great traveler from China Zhang Qian in 138 BC got an order from the emperor Vu Di to find on the territories adjacent to China the allies to destroy the nomadic tribes of Huns bothering their at northern borders. The traveler didn’t find allies but brought back a very important information about the tribes and nations living over the celestial Tian-Shan Mountains. He told the emperor about the fact that nobody knows about the silk produced in China and that in the lands he has seen people raise amazing horses impressing by their beauty and build. The emperor got the value of the information and in 121 BC the first caravan loaded with silk started into the foreign lands giving the name to a great trade chain which existed for many centuries. People in Europe thought that the silk was growing on the trees and Chinese people didn’t want to refute this theory as it provided them their monopoly. The silk was so popular that even the ruler of Rome – Caesar did come out in silk clothes and very soon in the highest classes of Rome it became a tradition to wear silk which was called by the Romans the “Chinese veil”. The first acquaintance of Romans with this fabric was not very friendly. In 53 BC Mark Mitsiny Crassus which dreamed to go by the steppes of a legendary Alexander Macedonian took his legions over Euphrates. In the battle with Parthians his army failed: the Parthians pretended to be running away when they suddenly turned around and showered the Romanian troops with the arrow rain, but this is not what made the Romans give up – after this “Parthian shot” they stretched their flags shimmering in the sun embroidered with gold and Romanian soldiers were so frightened and surrendered at once.
For many centuries the production of silk was kept in secret and the rulers of many empires tried to get the answer to it. This precious fabric had an amazing feature – it could withstand universal scourge – annoying insect pests. There are several legends how the production of silk was known outside the Chinese borders: one of them tells the story when one of the Chinese princesses was married to a king of the other power who told her they didn’t have silk in their lands and if she wanted to continue dressing in rich clothes she had to tell artisans how to make it: the princess brought the seeds of mulberry and silkworm cocoons through the border in her high hairstyle. Another says that in 550 AC by the order of the emperor Justinian two monks brought the silkworm cocoons in their sticks and very soon silk production began to develop in Constantinople. Whatever happened but the secret was opened and already in 3rd century silk-weaving workshops appeared in Persia, then in Alexandria (Egypt) and the biggest silk center originated in the East (sogdian). In 7th century it appeared in Transcaucasia and in 1596 the silkworm was grown even in Russia.
The Great Silk Road wasn’t only one road, it had many branches and only on the territory of modern Kyrgyzstan there were three of them: Northern, Southern and Fergana. From the names one may already understand how the roads went but let’s give it some details: Southern branch touched the territory of Kyrgyzstan for just a little going through Irkishtam pass, Osh town and went straight to Uzbekistan. Northern branch divided into two: going around the Issyk-Kul shores it could go to Kazakhstan but also could go through Chu valley into Uzbekistan, Tashkent. Fergana road went from China over Torugart pass through Naryn and further could go to Uzbekistan through Chu valley but also could go through Central Tian-Shan to Osh and then to Samarkand and Bukhara. One has to keep in mind that all these roads could intersect and often caravans could follow other way guided by the information received in one or another town.
At the times of Great Silk Road big trade towns were built on the territories of Kyrgyzstan such as Suyab, Navekat (Nookat, Navaket), Balasagun, Uzgen and others. These towns known in centuries flourished due to the trade. Many travelers went through them along with the caravans describing the landscape, towns, people, their way of life, religions and traditions in their poems and stories giving their own contribution in the history of Central Asia. Other people came with new religions, beliefs, culture, manners and crafts, for example on the west people started to produce metal wares and on the east people got to know how to produce glass. Buddha monks and priests of Buddha had their own aim to travel along the Great Silk Road bringing their religion from the very heart of India to the territories of Central Asia. In such towns as Suyab and Navekat (Nookat, Navaket) one may see Buddha temples where the statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas were found. Though till 10th century all Buddha temples were turned into Muslim and from that time on Muslim religion continued to strengthen on these territories.
Before Buddhism appeared on the territory of Central Asia there have existed such religions as: Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism. Nestorians came to Asia after their interpretation of religious subjects were told to be heresy in Persia (they claimed Jesus to be a simple human being and then become a messiah (Christ)). Zoroastrianism (worship of the fire) which wasn’t that popular in China was a characteristic of nomadic tribes, though in its contradiction Manichaeism was spread in China “the doctrine of two principles” containing both beliefs’ elements (Christian called by the Chinese the “doctrine of light” and Zoroastrian - called the “doctrine of fire”). It also had a strict dualism as its characteristic consisting of two irreconcilable principles of Good and Evil.
The time of the Great Silk Road was the time of economic, spiritual and cultural exchange between East and West. But there were times when the trade on one or some roads stopped to exist. The causes of these were different: in the Middle Ages by the roads of Silk Way ran so called “Black Death”, pandemic which had taken hundreds of thousands human lives and led to disappearance of many settlements. Natural disasters also had their power over caravans’ movement, in the mountains it could be different kinds of landslides and flooding, on the steppes it could be drought which would make it difficult for animals to find the food, especially if caravans consisted of donkeys. But the main reason for that were of course wars and internecine strives; so for example at the times of Byzantium – Iranian wars, the rulers of Persia blocked the caravan roads imposing the Greek merchants with big taxes to inflict maximum damage to the economics of Byzantium. Because of that the caravans from China and Central Asia went around Persia, they started to skirt Caspian sea not from the south but from the north and going through North Caspian to North Caucasus which led to disappearance of southern road. On the flat land the roads changed more that in the mountains; going through gorges these roads were stable and it was less likely to meet with something unexpected or get into the battle over this or that territory. In Kyrgyzstan there is a great monument of those times - Tash-Rabat (X-XI c), Nestorian fortress which was a shelter for pilgrims and at the same time caravanserai for the merchants going by. It is located not far from Torugart pass a little aside of the main road.
Many architectural monument persisted on the territory of Central Asia which try to tell us about the great events that happened in those times and open the many century history of our ancestors, their traditions and way of life, their spiritual and cultural life, help us understand their economic and political situation, the location and the power of states starting from the early middle ages till our days. Great Silk Road brought us an amazing heritage which has to be saved as a great gift. Today everyone may touch this history visiting ancient settlements and going by the caravan roads. Once very slowly they went through the majestic Tian-Shan mountains carrying precious goods without even knowing what king of treasure they leave behind. The road led them to the west and further…
Bishkek - the capital of Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan and the biggest town in the country. It’s a distinctive administrative unit and is a town of the Republican Submission. The very first name of it was Pishpek, then it was called Frunze and only in 1991 it finally got the name it has now - Bishkek .
The population of it is more than 1,3 million (not officially). Unlike the south country regions, a high percentage of population are Russian and Russian speaking citizens.
The town is located on the north of Kyrgyzstan in Chu valley at the foot of Tien-Shan mountains about 40km from Kyrgyz ridge and about 25km from Kazakh border.
In the year of 1825 the Kokand fortress was founded on this territory which had the largest garrison in Chu valley. It was conquered by Russian armies two times (4 Sept 1860 and 24 Oct 1862). In November of 1862 the fortress was destroyed and two years later the Cossacks founded their picket on its territory. After some time on its place the market started to gather. The Pishpek settlement was founded here in 1868 and as the center of the county was finally brought to over here on 29th of April in 1878 it got the status of the town. (look. Seven Rivers’ region).
From October of 1924 it becomes the administrative center of Kara-Kyrgyz autonomous region. From May of 1925 it’s already an administrative center of Kyrgyz autonomous region. It was renamed from Pishpek to Frunze in honor of the native citizen – Soviet Commander Mikhail Frunze. From 1936 Frunze becomes the capital of Kyrgyz SSR and from 1st of February of 1991 by the Supreme Council of Kyrgyzstan the town got the name of Bishkek. There are two versions of the word origins: the first is that the town got it from the name of the famous legendary hero Bishkek-Baatyr and the other version is that it’s just a consonance of words Pishpek (the first name) and Bishkek (a special stick with the help of which Kyrgyz people churn milk into butter).
Bishkek is located in the middle of Chu valley at the foot of Kyrgyz Ala-Too ridge on the height of 750-900 m above the sea level. By the climate environment Bishkek got the extreme southern location in continental climate of temperature latitudes. Monthly sun duration is the biggest in July – about 322 hours and the smallest in December – about 126 hours. The climate in Bishkek is continental with the average temperature of the year +10,2 C. January is the coldest month in Bishkek (-4C) and July is the warmest (+24,7C). Relative monthly humidity increases in June and July up to 44%, in March up to 74% and the average is about 60%. There are three rivers flowing through the town, they are: Alamedin, Ala-Archa and the Big Chu Cannal (BCC).
- Average year temperature - +10,6C
- Average year wind speed – 1,7 m/s
- Average year humidity – 60%
Ancient life encyclopedia – Stone inscriptions
The territory of Kyrgyzstan is some kind of an open air museum with many archeological monuments. Sometimes you may find them in most unexpected places: in valleys and intermountain basins, in gorges and tracts, on hidden meadows and alpine pastures with the height difference from 500 m up to 4000 m above the sea level. These may be the caves and Stone Age settlements; it may be the burials, settlements and channels of the Bronze Age; barrows, stone inscriptions, towns’ ruins and the settlements of antiquity as well as shrines, stone sculptures, irrigational installations, mining places, different writings, gumbezs and minarets of other times. Each of them is like a book page in a huge tome of Kyrgyz nation’s culture and history. At the ancient history researches these archeological monuments are the most important and sometimes the only resources which help to find the truth.
The ancient history and the history of Middle Ages, many huge works where the different sides of ancient Tian-Shan people’s lives are described are written on their basis. A lot of monuments that were discovered on Kyrgyz territory are known not only in our country but in the other worlds countries. These are such monuments as: Syrian (Nestorian) written records of Pishpek (Karadjigach) and Burana settlements, Saimaluu-Tash stone inscriptions, Orkhon-Yenisei script of Talas, Issyk-Kul altars, Kenkol and Kara-Bulak burial grounds and etc. A great interest was raised by Kyrgyz structures of medieval architecture: Buddha temples in Ak-Beshim settlement, architectural complexes of Burana and Uzgen, Shah-Fazil mausoleum, Manas gumbez and caravanserais of Manakeldi and Tash-Rabat.
Petrogliphs are stone inscriptions; this is a peculiar type of Kyrgyz archeological monuments. They are different from all other monuments not only by their specificity but also by their number and preservation. Located in such regions as foothills and gorges they keep being safe and untouched. Stone inscriptions is a great historical source which may give an answer to such questions as the ancient people’s way of living, their business, economy and religion, to the questions that have no answers in any other archeological source. They are also the most ancient monuments of people’s art.
Stone inscriptions of Kyrgyzstan as it was discovered are close by their style and subject to other monuments of Central Asia such as the monuments in Kazakhstan, Altai, South Siberia and Mongolia. We may suppose that the reason for all this is that at the Bronze Epoch and especially at the beginning of the Iron Age on the huge territory of Asia the life style, material and spirit culture were almost the same.
We may find Petrogliphs on caves’ and grottos’ walls but most of them were carved on the opened rock surfaces and separate stones which all in all were finally combined into great large “art galleries”. The pictures were carved by a sharp metal tool and most of the time it was put on the side turned to the sun which was covered by “desert sunburn” – by black patina.
Petrogliphs in Kyrgyzstan as in other regions of our country are dated in the limits of Bronze Epoch to the late Middle Ages, though most of them are of the early Iron Age (VII – III c. BC). It was the period of nomadic herding origin and development not only on the territory of Tien-Shan but also on the territory of the whole Eurasia. In applied and stone art of this time all the nomads carved pictures of animals are drawn in one particular pose knows as “Scythian-Siberian animal style”.
Ancient art in the country is so far opened only in one place – in Ak-Chunkur cave in central Tian-Shan which is located in the basin of Sary-Djas river on the height of 3500 m above the sea level. On its walls and the ceiling one may still see different pictures of bulls, goats, man figures, snakes and various signs. All pictures are made by ocher which was also found on the cave floor, at those times ocher was stored in sheep horns. The art of the cave was dated by academician A.P. Okladnikov as the time of Neolithic Age, he also thinks that here people performed different magical rituals in honor of animals and hunters. The excavation revealed many stone tools of VI-V BC in the cave.
All other stone inscriptions of Kyrgyzstan are on the open air surfaces of rocks and separate boulders. Most of them are located on the convenient places such as mountain gorges and passes, other you may find in hard-to-reach regions, they are some kind of covered from the view of each and everyone. These places played the role of shrines where people made their rituals in different times of the year related to their way of life. The biggest number of stone inscriptions that you will never find in any other region of Kazakhstan and Central Asia is located in Fergana ridge in Saimaluu-Tash tract. This is an intermountain basin on the height of 3500 m above the sea level in the eastern part of which there is a goaf going from south-east to north-west and consisting of thousands of stones. The rocks of different types and forms are covered by a thick sunburn layer that shines on the sunlight and on the stones that make the upper line of the goaf you may find the first group of stone inscriptions. This was the reason of naming the gorge “Saimaluu-Tash” which means “figured stone”. The estimated number of stones in here is about 10 thousands. This kind of amount contained in one place gives the location a world historical-cultural value.
The place was first found in the beginning of last century and from that time on it was repeatedly explored by archeologists especially in Soviet times. A lot of publications were devoted to this place but it still remains an inexhaustible source of information about ancient history and culture not only of Kyrgyzstan but also Kazakhstan, Middle and Central Asia.
On the base of specialists’ researches and on the first place made by A.N. Bernsht it was now possible to chronologically classify the pictures from II mil. BC to the beginning of Middle Age. This information was proved by the researches made many times after and were only specifying some details of it. By Bernshtams opinion a “gigantic gallery” of Saimaluu-Tash is a “mountain temple” to where people kept coming many centuries in a row to fulfill their religious rites during their communal celebrations.
The oldest group of Saimaluu-Tash pictures goes back to the Bronze Age (II – the beginning of I mil. BC). It includes peoples’ way of life (plowing with the help of bulls, chariot kind of wagons) and the development of hunting (roundup, baying, pursuit with the help of dogs). In many cases hunting is accompanied by ritual dances. A lot of solar signs are drawn on the stones such as sun-head gods, sun-head men, sun deer, sun bulls and other.
The pictures of animals made in the period of early Iron Age are drawn in the character of Scythian-Siberian style. The cult dances scenes have features that remind us of those were described by ancient authors. In this period pictures one may trace the religious nomads’ views - deification of animals and nature.
Last group of Saimaluu-Tash Petrogliphs from the frontier to VII c. BC is pictured by hunters with big bows and so called “Town plans”.
Saimaluu-Tash stone inscriptions give us the idea not only of the life, business and economy of the people living from II mil. BC to I mil. AC but also give us a chance to know their spiritual world, their ideas, myths and legends. Saimaluu-Tash is an ancient arts encyclopedia of Kyrgyzstan and its closest territories.
Another big region of stone art is the Issyk-Kul basin. Here on the ridges of Kungei and Terskei Ala-Too and also at the foothills of the basin itself there are hundreds and thousands of stone inscriptions. Between Rybachie and Cholpon-Ata towns on the northern shore of Issyk-Kul lake there is a great amount of particularly interesting Petrogliphs. They are located in such gorges as Ak-Tash, Toru-Aigyr, Tamchy, Choktal, Chon-Sary and Chon-Koi-Suu where the boulders were falling from the very top and rolled down to their very bottom. On dozens and hundreds of these boulders one may find numerous pictures of different types of animals and early nomads’ lives’ scenes carved by ancient artists. Many of them are pictured in motion. There are many pictures of antlered deer and hunting scenes: some hunters on foot and some on horses are chasing wild animals. There are scenes of hunting with the help of dogs as well as the pictures of predators attacking animals; the riders on horses and camels, pictures of horses and camels alone, some places have pictures of solar signs: circle meaning the Sun, Sun man and sun goat. Biggest part of these and other pictures of Issyk-Kul is drawn in the character of "Scythian-Siberian animal style” which is dated by VII-III c. BC.
A unique collection of stone inscriptions is located in Cholpon-Ata region. On the base of the preserved pictures with the help of Kyrgyz voluntary society for the protection on Historical and Cultural monuments an open air archeological-ethnographical museum is founded here. On hundreds of stones here you may see the pictures of animals: goats, argali, deer, bulls, horses, camels, dogs, snow leopards, wolves and the pictures of peoples’ life as well. On some stones there are pictures that reveal the work of one and the same artist.
One may see the stones with the multi-figure compositions of animals and hunting. A huge boulder with the surface of 2x4 m takes ones attention as it’s all covered by drawings. The central place of this stone is taken by five goats that are drawn at the bottom side of the stone; their bodies are ornamented with spirals, corners and straight lines. The upper part of the stone has another scene: the predators, one big animal and the two hunters with bows. The scene is drawn on the top of former drawings and their outlines are barely visible. All pictures and definitely the picture of five goats are made in best traditions of “Scythian-Siberian animal style”.
Other picture stones congestion is located close to Cholpon-Ata to the north of Dolinka village. Here are more than thousand drawings of different wild and house animals along with ancient nomads’ way of life scenes. All of them are analogical to the ones in Cholpon-Ata and dated by I mil. BC.
Among this field of stones one large boulder is needed to be mentioned two sides of which are covered by the animal pictures. On the southern side as the stone was damaged the pictures are barely seen but on the northern side there is a picture of two big deer which go one after another chased by a dog. Pictures length is about 64x65 cm and their height is about 174x176 cm. The deer are full of grace, expression and realism and this kind of pictures are so far the only found on the territory of Kyrgyz republic. Performed in a professional manner they are considered to be the masterpieces of Kyrgyz ancient art.
There are many stone inscriptions found in Central Tien-Shan, in the basin of Sary-Djas river, on Issyk-Kul syrts (alpine meadows located over the height of 3500 m and are at the zones of permafrost) and along its southern shore, in the basins of Karakol, Djuuka, Chichkan, Djargylach, Borskoon, Ton, Ak-Terek rivers, on Alabash mountain and other places. The pictures of Alabash mountain are the only pictures made only in “Scythian-Siberian animal style”, these are the pictures of goats, argali, deer, horses, camels, people, bow hunting scenes and hunting with dogs help which stun with their realism.
You may often see stone inscriptions in Tien-Shan: in Suusamyr, Djumgal, Kochkor, Atbashi, Arpy and Toguz-Toroz valleys, in the basin of Haryn river and its inflows. From all this variety the stone inscriptions that were not long ago found by K.I.Tashbeeva in Japyryk tract not far to the south of Son-Kul lake are the only ones that differ from other stone inscriptions by the pictures of moose and waterfowls never found anywhere else on Kyrgyz territory. All the pictures are very good drawn and definitely made by the hand of a real artist. The thing to be mentioned here is that the moose is not typical for Tien-Shan fauna and its picture in this region is being an evidence of Kyrgyz peoples connections with South Siberia.
There are many stone inscriptions in the valleys of Chatkal and Ketmen-Tyube. In the mountains of Ketmen-Tyube valley the Chaar-Tash location translated as “pockmarked stone” found by I. Kojomberdiev in 1970 really stands out. There are about 1000 pictures of Ketmen-Tyube and its close territories’ nomadic way of life. Chaar-Tash is so far the biggest “art gallery” in North-Western Tian-Shan apparently being a shrine of ancient people dwelled on this territory in I mil. BC.
Alay valley is also rich with petrogliphs, they are found in Turkestan ridge, Suleiman-Too mountain in Osh town, nearby the Aravan village and in Arymaia-Too tract. The last two locations are known for the pictures of horses that are of a really good performance. This is being an evidence of the fact described in written sources that the territory of Osh oasis was the center for thoroughbred horse breeding in I mil. BC. and was very famous on the East.
Amazing petrogliphs are found in Talas valley. Among the pictures of bulls, argali, deer, boars, steers and bears there are pictures that were never found in any other places of Kyrgyzstan but are only typical for Sayano-Altai. Talas is the second place after Saimaluu-Tash where there are pictures of the Bronze Age.
An interesting pattern is observed: in many places where the stone inscriptions are found there are shrines dated by I mil. BC. and of further times. In Talas valley not far from Urmaral location of stone inscriptions the shrines of the same Bronze Age are found. The materials found in the shrines, especially the artworks help in stone inscriptions’ dating.
A mass petrogliphs’ spread on the territory of Kyrgyzstan is an evidence of its exceptional wealth of ancient art. Stone inscriptions are not only the main source of Kyrgyz ancient history and culture but also the source of other type; as the monuments, petrogliphs show us the life scenes of Kyrgyz peoples’ ancestors in visible and concrete images, this is being their main and inexhaustible value.
Going through Tian-Shan mountains in the very unexpected place there is the second biggest lake on the territory of Kyrgyztsan called Son-Kul. In some versions this name is translated from Kyrgyzas the “Last Lake”. It is a great place for summer pastures; this amazing alpine lake is surrounded by green fields and little hills. Not even one tree or bush would disturb the shepherd’s gaze as if the lake agreed with the land on some kind of color game, light green of the hills turns into a beautiful turquoise color of the lake not letting your eye know where the verge of the colors is. The shores here are swamped, there’s no such a strict transition of colors we are used to – the shore and then the lake, no, here it’s more complicated than that, at the beginning there is the green shore, then it slightly turns into the shore covered by the water (some kind of a small swamp) and only then it all goes under the lake waters. Son-Kul has its temper and character, it can be very gloomy with grey waters on a rainy day and then it may greet you with a smile of its blue waters shining on the sun.
On the shores of the lake one may see burial grounds of nomadic tribes’ noble rulers and Turkic stone sculptures of Kyr-Jol (VI-VII c). On the northern shore there are flat stones with the ancient patterns of Arabic letters and typical inscriptions. At the western lake edge on one of the flat stones one may see a little deepening. By the legend this is the hoof track of Tulpar – the heroic, never tired horse of the legendary Manas. The other track you may find 7 km further. The legend about the lake tells that once on its territory there was a land of great Khan which sent his warriors all over Tian-Shan for the most beautiful women. The girls with their eyes full of tears ran to the mountains. Their suffering finally softened the mountains and the place where once was the castle of the cruel Khan was covered by water which started to run from all mountain slopes. That is how this amazing lake has appeared.
This nature present is located on the height of 3013 m above the sea level, as the lake is so high situated it is covered with ice almost the whole year, only in summer one may enjoy its beauty, get acquainted with the life of modern nomads, live in Kyrgyz yurts and try the national cuisine of these hospitable people. Only in summer they come to Son-Kul jailoo (Kyrgyz pastures), paying tribute to their ancestors, Kyrgyz nomads which were used to moving from one place to another going up to the mountains with all their cattle in summer and going down to the valley in winter.
But let’s get acquainted with the lake itself: its area is 270 sq.km, its length is 29 km and width is 17 km, the depth is about 13 m. 18 streams are flowing into the lake and only 4 of them have instant flow. Only one river leaves the lake – Son-Kul river which finally merges with the river Naryn. The animal world here is very diverse. In the summer there are different types of ducks, seagulls and other types of waterfowls, all in all about 66 species. It’s a real heaven for ornithologists as if to take only ducks there are 4 species of them. There was no fish here until 1959, it was brought here and was good acclimatized. On the shores and on surrounding hills there is a great amount of different kinds of grass, some of them are considered to be curative. But what is really amazing is that there are fields of edelweiss, with their form and structure it seems as if the stars are not there over you but here under your feet and you finally can not only reach them but also pick one up for the person you love.
Then comes the night and real stars start to shine and you finally understand the difference between the town night and mountain night. This endless space is all covered by the star carpet, never and nowhere in town you will see so many sparkling dots, and it feels like the sky is a huge canvas with many many holes and the light from some other world is shining through all these holes and gives us this unforgettable sensation of being one with the nature.
Son-Kul is an unusual place where you may drown into yourself and finally understand your inner world. Do you know what’s in you?
In 10th century on the spaces of majestic Asia at the times of constant wars and land takeover on the territory of Central Asia and Kazakhstan the Karahanid Khanate was founded. Balasagun town was the capital of this Khanate, placed on the way of one of the Great Silk Road branches. Huge caravans were going through this famous town, leaving its goods in the houses of wealthy citizens and influential officials. The town was so grand that even Genghis-Khan didn’t destroy it at the time of his territory conquer and even renamed it into “Gobalyk” which means “Good town”. But there was not many years given for it to stay, in 15th century there were already not that many people left in the town and it gradually started to fade. Eventually the town was left in ruins on the huge territory surrounded by majestic Tian-Shan mountains.
Balasagun town stayed on one of the main ways of Great Silk Road and was quite a big town; as the findings prove, on its territory there were not only usual citizens’ houses but also such buildings as mosque, palace complex, some mausoleums, bath building and the minaret of a real beauty located on the eastern side of town citadel. The minarets aim was to call Muslims for prayer and played a great role in town’s safety. At the beginning the height of the minaret was about 45 meters and from its top not only the town surroundings but the whole valley are seen. This minaret has preserved and now it’s located 12km from Tokmok town and has the name of Burana tower. Built in 11th century the tower was once destroyed by a big earthquake and from 45 meters only 24 left, but even these meters stun by their might and the beauty of burnt bricks relief ornaments lay out. The basement of this outstanding installation is a rectangle podium about 1m high with its eastern and northern sides marbled. The southern and western sides have no facing as they probably had some facilities nearby and didn’t need to have one (maybe there was a mosque to where people having heard the call from the top of the tower came for prayer). In the center of this podium there is an octal socle: at the center of its faces which are a little bit tilted there are arch niches with relief ornament laid out of burnt bricks. The minaret’s round body is placed on the top of this socle with its stairs hidden deep in the tower as a narrow curling in the dark ribbon taking the person to the very top of the tower. The entrance of the tower is located on the height; presumably people entered into it from the top of that very mosque built nearby.
Such a great historical place as Burana Tower couldn’t live without its own legend and every guide will certainly tell it to you:
Once upon a time in a great town far away lived an old Khan who didn’t have any children. Finally one of his wives gave birth to a cutest girl in the world. Khan was very happy but the only thing making him sad was that he would probably die before seeing his girl happy. One day he ordered to bring him all the wise men in the city and asked them to tell his daughters future. Every one of them prophesied his daughter a happy and long life but at the very end the oldest prophet came out of the group. – You may execute me for what I say, but let me tell you the truth first. – said the old man. Khan was scared but decided to get his point of view too. The old prophet told Khan that his daughter will not live till her full age when will be bit by a poisonous spider - karakurt. Khan got furious, but didn’t want to try the luck, he ordered to build a tower that would reach the sky and put his daughter on the very top of it so that nothing could menace her. He had always checked all the slaves’ dresses who took the food to his girl and was happy to see his daughter growing into the most beautiful woman in the world. The old prophet was put in a deep ditch dug around the tower where he finally died. It was the day of khan’s daughters sixteenth birthday when Khan thought that everything is over and the prediction didn’t turn to be true. He took a big plate with the fresh cut grapes and ran to the very top to congratulate his girl with her full age. But once she touched the grapes she screamed and fell on the ground dead. Khan looked at the plate and saw the reason – the poisonous spider was hiding in the grapes. Nowadays people can still see this lonely standing tower on the empty vastness of Central Asia.
Besides the legend there are balbals (grave stones) and petrogliphs spread on the territory of Burana tower which are very interesting to see. They make some kind of an open air museum and clearly transfer the realities of nomads’ life living on these lands long time ago. You may also visit the historical-architectural museum which will open for you a great amount of findings and old pictures from the period of excavation and reconstruction of Burana Tower. One may view the middle age installations (Mausoleums, palace complex and temple remains), feel yourself a great historian and of course inhale the spirit of antiquity going through the narrow staircase of Burana tower to the light barely coming from the meager windows of this grandiose construction.
Going to the south of our beautiful mountain country by the very same ways of the Great Silk Road we will be warmly greeted by the famous ancient Uzgen town. Located nowadays between two big towns Osh and Djalal-Abad it was founded in 2nd century BC and now counts more than two thousand years. At the time of Karakhanid’s dynasty (XIIc) it was as well as Balasagun town with its famous Burana Tower the second capital of Karakhanid’s Khanate. It was one of the main towns on the territory of Central Asia as the center of trade on the way from Samarkand to Kashgar. There is a middle age installations and narrow streets preserved till our times. The Grandiose construction of XII century the Uzgen minaret with the height of 27,4 meters survived till our days with all its beauty and majesty. It really reminds of Burana Tower in Chu valley, same as this tower Uzgen minaret was used for gathering Muslims for prayer; every day mullah would go up the stairs to the very top of the tower and with his strong voice would remind people about their duty to Allah. At first minaret had the height of 45 m but lost half of it during a big earthquake, it was reconstructed in our days. In 1923 to the part survived a 5 m dome was added in the style of Andijan school. Nearby minaret there is a madrasah and a mausoleum where the great rulers of Karakhanid’s dynasty were buried. In Uzgen there are two more mausoleums – Northern and Southern. All three of them are topped with domes and decorated with portals, their facades are rich ornamented with writings and tracery, neatly combining floral and geometric patterns. We have to mention that this architectural complex was depicted on the national currency (50 som).
In the town there are fortress remains, mazars (Muslim graveyards) and shrines of saint and famous people of XI-XII centuries and other archeological objects. The mosques of XIX century are well preserved. All these installations were reconstructed with the help of international organizations and today they are considered to be very important historical-cultural heritage of the country.
Not far from the town there is a great resort called “Kara-Shoro” which is known for its sacred spring waters that are really good for health. Many pilgrims come to this place to drink the holy waters and cure from diseases.
Among the vast mountain spaces of Tian-Shan, among the snow summits the velvet waters of Issyk-Kul are spread. Its colors from soft blue to sapphirine, stuns by its ineffable beauty and depth of colors. Its tons of waters hide the ancient civilizations, majestic towns of the time long gone inevitably covered by the smooth blue surface of this amazing nature creation,
Issyk-Kul Lake is the second biggest mountain lake after Titicaca in South America; it is one of 25 biggest and 7 deepest lakes in the world. The length of this lake from west to east is 178 km, from south to north is 64km, depth is 668m. Issyk-Kul Lake ranks second in the transparency of water after Lake Baikal. The climate here is very soft, the average temperature of the summer is +17 C, it seems that at such a low temperature of summer the winters should be severe but vice versa the winters here are quite warm, average temperature in January is -3 C. The number of hours of sunshine is 2700 that is even more than at the Black Sea. The local people call this lake the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. As a small bead put on the chain of mountain ridges it definitely justifies this name. The “Pearl” is located on the height of 1609 m above the sea level and enclosed from two sides by the ranges with the poetic names Terskey-Ala-Too (turned from the sun) and Kungey-Ala-Too (turned to the sun).
The first mention of the Issyk-Kul lake one may find in Chinese annals of the end of II century BC where it’s called Je-Hai which means “warm sea”. To this day it almost didn’t change its name, the only thing changed is that the sea finally became a lake – Issyk-Kul is translated from Kyrgyz as the “Warm (hot) lake”. Why is it warm? Because besides some coastal areas the lake Issyk-Kul doesn’t freeze in winter. There are various answers to this phenomenon, some people refer to the fact that on the bottom of the lake there are thermal springs, which keep the temperature of water above the freeze level, some people think that it’s just the ecological factors’ influence, such as: soft winters, warmth reserve in a huge water column, lake saltiness and other.
One more feature of this lake is that it has about 80 inflows. Coming from the snowy peaks they all take their waters to a great lake but none of them take the water out. In spite of that the lake continues to shallow. Scientists still cannot define the exact cause of it; some refer to the fact that local people take water from inflowing rivers for irrigation, some of them blame the global warming, but they still didn’t come to a consensus. Though it’s known that from the II century BC till our times the lake continues to “breath”. Some period of time it would dry to the level that there are big islands coming out of water, people would build their settlements and even towns on them and in the next couple of centuries the lake would cover them all, nowadays their ruins are hidden in the waters of this great nature creation.
Yes, this is the Pearl of Kyrgyzstan; you may try to enjoy its ineffable beauty and the majesty of its big blue waters, reflecting the high mountains and the endless blue sky. And looking into the depth of Issyk-Kul lake may try to see the lineaments of ancient civilizations.
Issyk-Kul has a very convenient geographical location and this defined its destiny even in the very ancient times. In the middle ages on the territories nearby the lake one of the main ways of Great Silk Road was leading its way, therefore a great amount of settlements were formed there. And some of them are now hidden by Issyk-Kul waters.
Issyk-Kul lake attracts the attention not only of the people that like to rest on the beach, people who want to see the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan” but also the historians, archeologists and treasure hunters. It’s not without reason as the lake has its stories and legends. Just going by the history in the Issyk-Kul region there may be up to 200 large and small treasuries.
Here are the most popular ones:
1. Among Russian settlers living on Issyk-Kul shores from 1930s there goes a legend about “golden trail” in Semyonovskoe gorge, found by Russian officer in 1916th: Probably somebody scared by the Kyrgyz revolution happening this year tried to hide the treasure, one of the packages was torn and the jewelry falling down so to say defined the trail. Treasury still wasn’t found.
2. In 1934 one of the people resting in Koi-Sary resort on the wild beach mentioned that some of sand grains sparkle and literally burn the skin if you step on them. This is the golden sand! But nothing like that was created by the nature here. It appeared that the golden sand was brought to over here from one of Siberian rivers’ banks and hidden in the rocks at the period of Stalin’s repressions.
3. Among the locals there are rumors about the treasuries of Baron Ungern von Sternberg – the head of White Guard units of “black baron” buried on the shores of the lake or hidden in the waters.
4. The legend about the “Golden Boat” (16th century). The ruler of some town on the Issyk-Kul Lake’s shore has mentioned that the lake’s waters keep rising and decided to relocate the town onto different place. But it was the time when one could never trust another and the treasury host decided to bury the boat with treasuries in the water at the place only he knew. At the time of town movement the host was killed and the treasuries are still somewhere at the bottom of the lake.
5. The treasury of Christians – Nestorians
In 1218 Genghis-Khan sent his troops of 25 thousand horsemen with their leader Dzhebe-Noyon with who went his second son Chagatai. The monks of Christian monastery in Suyab nearby Balasagun (the capital of Karakhanids state) and the wealthy settlers decided to run away from Mongols having taken all saved treasuries with them. The caravan of 200 camels carrying golden and silver wares went fast along the northern shore of Issyk-Kul on the way to Kashgar, when they got the news from the scouts that the Mongolian troops are going towards them. Encircled by Mongols they started to seek the place for treasury hiding. On their way there was the monastery of Armenian Christians. In one night with the help of their monk brothers they managed to hide the part of the treasuries on the shore and in the lake waters. On the next day the caravan continued its way into the mountains to the cave into where the river was flowing. They changed the river water direction, put the other part of the treasuries on the bottom of the cave and then turned the waters back. The treasuries were flooded.
6. Genghis-Khan treasury on the bottom of the lake.
Many generations tried to find the Genghis-Khan treasuries and his grave. There is an opinion that the sons of a legendary commander Genghis-Khan after his death in 1227 imitated his burials in Ordos and actually secretly sent his body with the uncountable treasuries to Issyk-Kul. By the Kyrgyz elders’ stories the ruler of this territory was Genghis-Khan’s second son Chagatai who ordered to make an over strength juniper casket in which the body of Genghis-Khan with all his treasuries was placed and then drowned it in Issyk-Kul waters. Other treasuries were hidden in the cave high in the mountains and the waters of one of the mountain rivers were turned to the cave which was flooded. All the people involved in the process were executed and the secret of Majestic commander and his treasuries was neatly kept.
7. The relics of St. Matthew
On the northern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake on the territory of Tyup creek, there is a place called “Bright Cape”. On this “Bright Cape” there was Holy Trinity Orthodox Monastery. Central Asian Metropolitan Vladimir has written about it in his book “Land of the Patriarch Turk descendants. The spiritual Heritage of Kyrgyzstan and Christian aspects of this heritage”. Here is just one citation form his writing which proves that the relics of St. Matthew were lost on Issyk-Kul shores.
“… On Kyrgyz land the imperishable body of the Apostle Matthew the Evangelist found its posthumous repose. As known he took the martyrdom for Christ in Syria. From there apparently in 2-3 century the relics of Apostle were brought to the region famous for its general toleration by the Christians running from ancient Roman persecution…”
This shrine was saved in Monastery located on the shore of Issyk-Kul Lake and the whole Christian world knew about it.
Besides, there is so called Catalan map dated by 1375 which has Issyk-Kul lake and on its northern shore in the region of Tyup creek there is a monastery pointed with the writing near it: “This place has the monastery of Armenian brothers, where the body of Apostle Matthew the Evangelist is located”. This map was first translated into Russian by the traveler Semyonov Tian-Shanskiy who also mentioned this monastery.
8. Temirlan’s palace
By the evidence of ancient chroniclers ibn Arab-Shah and Muhamed Khaidar coming from his campaign Timur- the conqueror had a habit to have rest in his palace build on one of Issyk-Kul islands. It was a long way to Samarkand and all the treasuries Timur called the Steel Lame had were stored in there. Though after his death the island with all its treasures went under the waters. Locals say that on the sunny day one may see the lineaments of the towers but unfortunately the archeologists cannot find the exact place of the island. Maybe because of that every year many archeological expeditions are going on the shores of Issyk-Kul with the hope to find an answer to this historical secret.
The territory of Issyk-Kul Lake and its surrounding lands is a great interest for travelers wishing to have their vocation on the shores of an alpine lake and also a great chance to try yourself in diving. The dive expedition in Issyk-Kul lake may become a great adventure.
The Naryn river is the main water artery of Kyrgyzstan. Formed from the merger of Kichi-Naryn (small Naryn) and Chon-Naryn (big Naryn) taking their waters from the Central Tian-Shan glaciers the river caries its waters through the whole Kyrgyzstan and at the end it merges with Karadarya on the territory of Uzbekistan forming Syrdarya. The full length of the river is about 800 km with the width of flood from 20 to 45 km. Subterranean waters and rains don’t take place in the river feeding, basically the water in the river comes from the glaciers of Mountain summits. On its banks there are such towns as Naryn, Tash-Kumyr and Uchkurgan and at its headwaters there is a national Naryn reserve. Naryn has a great energy resources, there are Toktogul HPP, Tash-Kumyr HPP, Uchkurgan HPP, Kurpsai HPP and Kambar-Ata2 HPP is being built with the relevant reservoirs. Naryn river waters are actively used for irrigation; Big Fergana canal and Northern Fergana canal originate from Naryn. Starting its cross-country trip at the summits of Tian-Shan unruly mountains, making its way through narrow rocky gorges it runs with all its strength to give people and nature its help giving them food and the life.
Djeti-Oguz or the rocks of Seven Bulls is a picturesque Kyrgyz gorge located in 28 km from Karakol town. The gorge got its name from the beautiful view of weathered red rocks that look like seven large bulls going one after another in only they know eternal journey. Huge fir trees are standing there as the silent guardians of this beautiful place, protecting its territories from being grey and dull and giving them the view of majesty and unruliness. At the entrance of the valley there is a resort with thermal springs known for their healing properties. A great amount of people is coming here for recovery but find not only it but also the stunning beauty of this place which gives peace and the wish to stop the moments of our busy life.
From generation to generation, from one century to another, from mouth to mouth there is a legend told about this beautiful place. And we want to lead to you this centuries-old heritage of Kyrgyz nation - the legend of seven bulls: “ Long long ago on the shores of a great blue lake there lived two mighty khans and one of them had the most beautiful wife in the world. Once the other khan saw the wife of his neighbor and fell in love from the first sight. He didn’t want to live without her anymore and finally decided to steal her from his neighbor. He got a chance to do what he wanted and locked the woman in the dungeon. He came every day to look at her beauty and was happy but he understood that her beauty won’t last long in this dark place and will fade very soon but he couldn’t let anybody know that he has it as his neighbor was searching for her. One day the guard of khan’s prison blabbed that khan has his neighbor’s wife in his dungeon and these news came to woman’s husband. He asked khan to give him his wife back. Khan was very disappointed but didn’t want to give the woman away. Some evil people told khan the way out: “you have to kill this woman – they said – and send her back to her husband, by doing that you will fulfill his wish but won’t be sad as your neighbor won’t have her either”. Khan liked the idea and made a great memorial dinner in her honor. He ordered seven bulls to be killed so that all his people would have a piece and when the last bull fell under the knife of butcher, khan himself stabbed the dagger into woman’s heart and the blood sprinkled all the bulls laying nearby. That moment the mountains broke and the hot water as the hot blood of the woman started to come out of them. The water covered the palace and all the people drowned in its flows. Seven bulls were taken far from that place and they remained there reminding people of mighty khan’s soullessness and avidity”.
Among the loving couples and just married the rock ensemble called “the Broken Heart” that is in the very same gorge is very popular, which has its own story: “Once upon a time there lived an evil and cruel khan, he was known for his greed to have something that nobody ever had and once he was told about a diamond – the girl, daughter of a poor fisherman, which was so beautiful that people forgot about the sun and moon seeing her. Khan got a desire to have her in his harem and to have the most beautiful girl in the world. When khan’s warriors came into the village to get the girl they found out that the girl ran away with the man she loved and she was engaged with from her very childhood. The warriors didn’t care; they found the couple in the forest far from her home and killed the guy. They tied her to the saddle and started their way to khan’s palace. Her heart couldn’t manage all the despair and inevitability and had broken into pieces. The girl died but on that place where she was buried huge rock appeared which looked like a broken heard, it soon became a symbol of endless and indivisible love”.
In Kok-Djayik gorge there is a cozy yurt township where you may have a horseback riding to the horizons from where you may see the new mountain valleys covered by the blue haze. At the Djeti-Oguz riverhead there are lakes, waterfalls and zoological reserve. The very top of the valley is locked by the vertical rocky wall in the middle part of which there is an amazing Oguz-Bashi (bull’s head) double summit with the height of 5170 m. This summit is compared with the beauty of Alps – Jungfrau Mountain.
Enjoying the nature beauty and inhaling the fresh air of majestic mountains you have a great chance to stop and finally feel yourself being a part of our huge world with its unlimited opportunities of creation, feel yourself a particle of universe.
The road takes us to the very south, we have already been in Naryn and Son-Kul and what about Tash-Rabat? We have to see this monumental construction, built long ago by somebody for something…
This historical monument is located in Kara-Koyun gorge not fat from the border with China. On the territory of many kilometers there is not even one settlement and the question coming to the mind is why would somebody build such a fortress in such a remote place. There are several variants of thought, stories and legends among local people.
Some of them say that Tash-Rabat was built as a caravanserai for tired travelers going over the mountain passes by the ways of Great Silk Road so that they could have some rest, warm up and overnight starting their journey in the early morning on the next day going from Kashgar to the shores of Issyk-Kul lake and Fergana valley. This is possible as in those days of tribal fragmentation and everyday wars it was much safer to go over mountains than go along the valleys and suddenly become the part of internecine clashes.
By the other version Tash-Rabat was a monastery of Nestorian monks.
Others claim (and there are written evidences) that this fortress was built by Muhammad-Khan – one of the Mogulistan rulers (Turkic-Mongol state) originated on the ruins of Genghis-Khan empire at the place of Ulus Djuchi (chapter 27 of the first book “Tarikh-I Rashidi”). He ordered to build this temple to draw the faithless living on these territories and following Zoroastrianism to the Muslim religion. Khan Muhammad was known for his fierce focus on Islam and he wanted to make everybody follow it, he ordered to drive the horseshoe nail into the head of the person who didn’t put on a turban in his presence. “Tarikh-I Rashidi” tells about the fortress building: “Muhammad-Khan built a rabat on the northern side of Chadir-Kul pass…”, apparently “Chadir-Kul” is the pass nowadays called Tash-Rabat as not far from it there is a lake with the name Chatyr-Kul.
Referring to the legends the fortress was built by the father and his son who escaped from a huge flood sent on earth by Allah for people were very sinful. It took them very long to build the fortress and they have almost finished it when the son saw a caravan on the horizon and asked the father if he could go and look what kind of good does the caravan have, but he never came back as he saw a beautiful girl among the cameleers and fell in love with her from the first sight. So the father had to finish building the fortress all along and only the travelers who came by helped him to put the huge boulders on the top of this massive construction’s roof.
Whoever built this beauty, Tash-Rabat is the only creation of its kind on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. It has an almost rectangular form with the lengths of the sides 33,7 and 35,7 m. From the inside it is a long corridor having the room doors on every side of it and going into the main central hall. In this hall there are small holes cut on the ceiling letting the day light in. All other rooms are plunged into darkness. In one of them very deep in the corner and that’s why almost invisible there are two dungeons (special deepening in the ground for prisoners), one of them is deeper than another which means that in one of them the prisoner could only sit and in the other could only stand. In the fortress there are 33 rooms but there is a legend about 34th room which has no door and into where the prisoners were immured alive. There is also a legend about an underground tunnel which leads to the other side of the hill so that the people could run away from the enemy attacks.
After many centuries (apparently because of the landslides) the mountain going nearby literally had swallowed the fortress from the back side. Façade of the construction is traditionally turned to the East, it has a portal with classic arch and corner towers apparently used for patrol guards. The roof of Tash-Rabat is crowned by twenty small and one big dome. This historical monument is located on the height of 3600 m above the sea level among the inaccessible Tian-Shan Mountains. It is a very beautiful place where every person may see the facility with his-her own eyes and choose the more satisfactory variant of its mission.
Want to go see?
One of the most beautiful lakes is hidden in the depth of western Tian-Shan on the height of 1900 m above the sea level. Surrounded by high ridges it has an indescribable beauty, reflecting the blue sky and green mountain slopes. Somewhere almost vertical cliffs are going down into the waters, the depth of this nature creation is 234 m, it is the third deepest lake in Central Asia and the second deepest on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. There is a Sary-Chelek biosphere reserve with the area of 23900hectares. It has unique flora and fauna; one may find here about 40 species of mammals, 157 species of birds and 1000 species of herbaceous plants. Many of these species are listed as endangered and are on the verge of extinction, that’s why the reserve is patrolled day and night to exclude the poachers’ hunting. The reserve is also founded to save the walnut-fruit forests almost never found in such a big amount.
The lake originated from a big earthquake which led to a mountain landslide which blocked the flow of the river that has finally turned into a lake. Sary-Chelek is translated as “Yellow bucket” and it explains such a name as to some extend it looks like some kind of container but as to the yellow color it can happen only in autumn when the trees are painted in different colors from bright red to amber color.
This place also has many legends and secrets, but the most popular legend says: “It all happened in soviet times when many different expeditions were sent on the territory of Kyrgyzstan for different kinds of researches. One of the groups came to Sary-Chelek lake and after a long day was sitting around the fire discussing the day events. Suddenly an old man came to them from the forest, the group parted to give him some place at the fire. The expedition members gave the old man a cup of hot tea and asked him what he was doing here. Old man told them an unbelievable story that for many years he has been staying here to pay the tribute to a mighty god called “Kho”. Very long ago on the territory of the lake there was a peaceful tribe of golden-hair people worshipping the god “Kho” who lived in the mountain river having the body of a man and the head of a fish, he also had a golden squama. Every century one of the flamens died and the prettiest girl in the tribe came to the river and bounded to the water. The god came to her, kissed her on a cheek and in some time she gave birth to a golden hair boy. But one day the barbarians came into the gorge and killed all the people except for one flamen who ran to the god’s temple and asked “Kho” to save the tribe. This moment the mountains collapsed and the water came from under the ground and flooded the whole gorge and all the barbarians. After that the lake originated on the place of tribe’s settlement and the god “Kho” is now living in this lake.
In the morning the girl from the expeditionary group went to the lake to wash the face, she soaped the face and got close to the water when she felt the touch a big lips on her face, she was shocked, but when she gazed in the water she could see the big sad eyes of a huge fish, the fish turned around and started swimming away when the girl notices human legs taking the fish away. The expedition was long gone but the girl was very sick and was left in the closest hospital in Namangan town. Though many witnesses afterwards said that on the shore of Sary-Chelek lake they have seen a boy with golden hair with an old man walking next to him”
Sary-Chelek is a wonderful lake which is worth seeing it and enjoying its beauty with the amazing reflection of an endless sky and the clouds like fish swimming on its surface.
Gumbez of Manas
Gumbez of Manas.
One of the popular ancient monuments - the tomb of the Kyrgyz legendary hero Manas is located not far from Talas town at the foot of the rocky hill Manastyn Chokusu. People believe that by the order of the legendary hero’s wife Kanykei the mausoleum was built over her husband’s tomb and so that people wouldn’t plunder the tomb she ordered the artists to write a name of the girl on it. But by the same legend Kanykei built Manas’ tomb far from people’s view and the writing on the tomb is apparently telling the truth that the tomb was devoted to a girl and was made by her inconsolable father amir Abuki in 1334. Such a rare construction is made of burnt bricks and seems to be built by the experts from Samarkand or Bukhara but when the historians started to study the ornaments on Gumbez it got clear that they were made by Kyrgyz people as all of the patterns were of a Kyrgyz origin.
The mausoleum is not big but as all the dimensions were well-counted it makes an impression of something huge. Its height is 11 m and the length of each side is 7m. It is a centric mausoleum with a cubic base, portal and domed ceiling. This is a perfect work of art; the construction is lined with terracotta tiles which have ornamental floral patterns and different kinds of writings. It is also decorated with columns and is an example of an applied art and architecture combination.
In 1970 with the efforts of Soviet scientists the restoration of the monument was finished and now you may see it in all its beauty and majesty.
Osh is the second biggest town of Kyrgyzstan after Bishkek with the population about 250 thousand people. It was one of the religious Muslim centers in Central Asia. It is known by its ancient mosques in the center of the town and also by Suleiman-Too (Sulaiman-Takhty, The throne of Solomon), which is one of the places of pilgrimage of central Asian Muslims.
The town is located in the foothill oasis which was settled by people even before the Kyrgyz nation people came there from Yenisei (about 800 years ago). In 1950s archeologist Yurii Aleksandrovich Zadneprovski on the southern slope of Suleiman-Too found the ruins of Bronze epoch ancient farmers which has proven that the history of Osh counts over 3000 years. Though by the history science the age of the town should be counted from the first mention in the chronicles and this is only in IX c. AC, but even after that it is the oldest town in Kyrgyzstan. In 2000 by the Askar Akaev’s presidential decree the 3000 years of Osh town were celebrated and from that point there appeared a tradition to celebrate town’s birthday every year.
In X century Osh was the third biggest town in Fergana being the point of Caravan ways’ intersection going from India to Europe.
In 1876 after the Kokhand Khanate was conquered, Osh became a part of Russian empire.
At the Soviet times Osh became a big industrial center where there were cotton and silk plants, silk spinning and cotton refinery, sewing and shoe factories; food processing, machine building and metalworking industries.
In 1990 on the territory of Osh town there were ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. The reason of the clashes was that the local town council decided that the Uzbeks should give Kyrgyz people their lands for the houses in the suburb collective farm, but the Uzbeks didn’t want to discuss it with the administration. Due to Russian army sent to the town the clashes soon ended.
At the time of the government crisis in 2005 Osh was the first to take the side of the opposition. In the summer of 2010 after the April revolution and the weakening of central power the ethnic clashes happened again between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz people with many victims. During the clashes 2000 of private houses were burnt most of which were the houses of Uzbek nation. But by the official data a lot of different illegal weapons were confiscated from Uzbek people which led to an ambivalent reaction of the people and the opposition.
Suleiman mountain is one of the most significant historical monuments in Kyrgyzstan. It is located in the center of Osh on the south of the country. Till the 16th century it was called Bara-Kukh. The triple ascent onto the mountain is considered to be equal to one Hajj to Mecca.
The mountain itself has the form of a five-prong with the length of 1140 m and width – 560 m. Each summit has its own name. For example the highest is Rushan-Tag and the one that gave the name to the whole mountain is called Suleiman-Too or Buura-Tag, there is a mosque Takht-i-Suleiman and the “House of Babur” on its site. Other three are: Shor-Tag “White summit”, Eer-Tag “Saddle mountain” and Kattama-Tag “Layered mountain”.
Takht-i-Suleiman or the “Throne of Suleiman (Solomon)” has its own legend: “Suleiman prophet was much betrayed to the God, but he also had a weakness for racehorses. He had a huge stable of 500 stallions and one day he was so carried away with them that he forgot to tell the prayer. Suleiman was very sorry and ordered to kill all the horses he had in honor of god. God liked such kind of sacrifice and presented Suleiman a big throne. The throne was so big that only 500 jinns could carry it. The god told Suleiman that he could put the throne wherever he wanted and Suleiman ordered jinns to put it on the most beautiful valley in the world and jinns brought Suleiman and his throne to a green fresh meadow. The only thing that was wrong with the place, the place didn’t have a beautiful river, so Suleiman ordered jinns to break one of the mountains behind which there was a lake and the lake with the big stream flowed into the valley and got the name “Ak-Buura. So the present of god remained in the valley of Osh town.”
According to other legend Muhammad Zahiriddin Babur (1483-1530), Timurs grandson and the founder of Great Mongols dynasty saw the stone with the dents from the knees and the head of Suleiman on Suleiman mountain where he bowed to God and decided to build a small hudjra (cell) on the place of which nowadays there is the “House of Babur” reconstructed by the archive resources.
Suleiman mountain has 7 caves with their own names: Chakatamar from the word “Chakka” meaning “to drop”, the water always drops from ceiling of this cave considered to be healing; Tepeunkur “the cave on the top” – its entrance is almost vertical; Chilten-Khana or Teshik-Tash “holey stone” having three entrances; Ishen-Unkur which plays the role of some kind of a house for thinking (Hudjra); the cave called Rusha-Unkur or the eagle cave is the biggest one, it has two floors and today there is the complex of United Historical and Cultural Museum-Preserve of Osh town, here in 1956 the remains of the ancient settlement in many ways similar to the Chist culture of Bronze epoch were found; Hurkyz cave or the “abode of houri” in which according to the legends lives the celestial houri, the cave is decorated by the beautiful like the stone lace ceiling. The last cave is located on the northern side of the mountain in a remote place and hasn’t been studied so doesn’t have the name yet.
Other monuments: At the south-eastern side of the mountain there is Asaf-ibn-Bukhriya mausoleum (XVIII) which is according to the Muslim legend was built over the Suleiman’s vizier’s grave; at the eastern foothill of the mountain the middle age bath was found (XI-XIV) and from the remains of Ravat-Abdullakhan (XVI) only the southern part with the pray hall left, which was later restored.
At the times of Great Silk Road one of the main branches was going from China over the Alai ridge into Fergana valley. The priests of different eastern religions lived here in a good neighborhood following Tengriism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Manichaeism, that’s why thousands of pilgrims of different nations and cults were coming to the foothills of the mountain.
Today Suleiman mountain is known for its healing properties and sacred springs, so maybe we also need to kneel in front of this majestic god creation and ask him for physical and spiritual healing for the whole mankind.
Karakol is the administrative center of Issyk-Kul valley with the population of about 63 thousand people (2009). It is located 12 km from the Issyk-Kul lake shore in the eastern part of the valley at the foothill of Terskei-Alatoo on the height from 1690 m up to 1850 m above the sea level.
In 1869 captain baron Kaulbars which was given a task to find a good place for the new town came to here and ordered to found the military administrative center on the way of Great Silk Road going from Chu valley to Kashgar. This date became the date of town founding named by the river it stayed on – Karakol.
The town has a strict rectangular layout and is surrounded by garden. It was decided to build a garden city so everyone was ordered to plant trees in front of their houses. The houses looked different in here as well, not like in any other towns of Central Asia. Until 1887 almost every house was built of clay but after the big earthquake this year people started to build wooden houses with porches decorated with rich intricate carvings.
The town has changed its name several times: until 1889 the town had the name Karakol, afterwards by the order of Tsar the town got the name of Prjevalsk in honor of known Russian traveler N.M.Prjevalsky which died in this town and by his wish was buried on the shore of Issyk-kul lake. In 1922 the town was given his name Karakol back, but in 1939 was called Prjevalsk again as it was the century from the great traveler’s death. In 1992 the town was officially recalled Karakol.
Among all cities of prerevolutionary Kyrgyzstan Karakol was the town of a relatively high culture.
The most significant historical monuments are “The Holy Trinity Cathedral”, “Dungan Mosque” and the monument of a great traveler N.M. Prjevalsky.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is the true example of 19th century church. Crowned by five golden domes the cathedral is build of wood. Retaining the traditional Russian style it is also decorated with carvings. It stays very quiet in the trees worshiping Almighty creator with its doors opened to every believer calling them to give praise to the Lord. It doesn’t have grandiosity, doesn’t have luxury, very modestly in old Russian way the windows are curtained with white cloth and the icons on the walls are silently watching people praying for different things with candles in their hands with their minds somewhere very far from here, and suddenly they are with the Lord and they know that he will not deny them neither repentance nor their desires.
Dungan Mosque as well as The Holy Trinity Cathedral is made of wood without a nail. Its construction is made in Chinese architectural style of Qing epoch. It was built by the Chinese architect Chzhou-Sy specially brought from Beijing. Along with him came 20 other hands, the basement and all stone works were made by locals and all wooden work were done by Chinese. Thirty golden pillars with amazing carvings make the mosque look rich and majestic and the dragons looking from the folded gable corners remind one of the Chinese fairy tales with huge fire monsters. Tiered wooden cornice is decorated with the pictures of different fruits – peaches, pears, grapes and other. Bright paints in some way transfer the rich Chinese coloring.
One of the legends is connected with the monument of N.M.Prjevalsky located 9km to the north of the town: Many years ago a huge eagle in the gorge started to hunt the cattle of local shepherds. Nobody could kill the eagle though many of them tried to shoot the bird but it was so fast and flew so high that they never could catch it by surprise. Prjevalsky lived in his tent in the gorge and was very sick. One day he heard a strong call of the mountain bird and looked out of his haven, the eagle flew so low from the ground as if he knew that the person was sick and there was no reason to be afraid, but as much as Prjevalsky was sick he reached for his gun and shoot into the air. The huge bird fell to his feet and nobody ever disturbed the shepherds’ cattle again. From that time on the gravestone of a great traveler there is an eagle with the olive branch which now symbolizes the peace and happiness of the people.
Not far from Karakol there is a ski base with the same name Karakol, which is very popular among not only locals but also tourists. From here many expeditions start their treks not only to the summits of Karakol (5280 m), Jigit (5130 m), Prjevalsky (4283 m) which are clearly seen from the town but also to such peaks as Pobeda (7439 m) and Khan-Tengri (6995 m). In the gorge called Altyn-Arashan “Golden spring” which is located 10km to the east of the town there are hot springs rich with radon being very good for the nervous system cure. So coming to Karakol you may not only see the historical monuments and mountain nature but also improve your health.
Lake Merzbaher was uncovered in 1903 by German geographer and alpinist Gottfried Merzbaher at the time of his expedition to the foothills of Khan-Tengri peak. Later the lake got the name of its discoverer. The lake is located at an altitude of 3,304m above sea level and covers 4.5 sq. km with depths of up to 60-70 m. This miracle is situated between north and south part of Inylchek glacier, one of the largest in the world. Merzbaher’s shore affords fantastic views of the highest Tian-Shan peaks. The icy silence of snow-covered giants never fails to leave a strong and lasting impression upon the visitors of this eternally sparkling place.
The lake consists of two (upper and lower) parts, separated by a bridge. Each summer melted waters from Southern and Northern Inylchek fill the basin which is dammed by ice packs. In June-July the lake looks like a piece of Arctic Ocean with many icebergs impressively moving along its surface. The mysterious natural anomaly of this “systaltic” miracle is that once a year between July and August, the dam holding the water by some reasons breaks and the lake containing 129 million cubic meters of water disappears completely within 3-4 days. Seems to be understandable, the water fills the basin and then flows down into the river at the bottom of the glacier, but the periodicity of this event makes it very interesting. Why does it happen every year? Why the dam breaks? Why if the dam breaks the water still has no place to go and the basin is filled again? What plays the role of a flap not letting the water to flow down? There are several theories attempting an explanation: one of them says that one of the glaciers has some kind of a cave which breaks under the water pressure and the lake water goes down, then the next year the cave freezes again, but how big the cave should be for the water to disappear in 2-3 days; the other says that on the bottom of the lake there are huge blocks of ice blocking the water exit and which finally rise with the difference in ice and water densities, but why the water disappears to the last drop? The densities are not that different for the icy blocks to be on the surface of the water till the very end. So, not even one of all theories was completely proven. The geologic mystery of the "Hearth of Tian-Shan" is still unsolved!
"Fairy Tale" gorge
This natural wonder is located 80km from the beautiful Jeti-Oguz gorge, which is famous for its natural monuments, such as the red rocks "7 bulls" and "Broken Heart", on the southern coast of the beautiful alpine lake Issyk-Kul - the second largest in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America.
The whole originality of the place is the frozen in bizarre forms colorful rocks, like after the eruption. Solid clusters made of limestone and sandstone are bulging from the colorful soil and the place looks like the ruins of ancient castles. The most surprising is that the architect and sculptor of the place is the nature that used only water, sun and wind as instruments. Besides the fancy castles and fairy figures there can also be considered and many-domed churches, and crenellated walls with loopholes; so for example - Sandy fence, which is very much like a "Chinese wall", stretching for several kilometers along the southern shore of Lake Issyk- Kul.
All you need in order to understand the true beauty of this unique place - is a little imagination and a wonderful fairy tale world will open its doors to you. Going into this world, all the forms suddenly acquire the shape of characters from the stories which were told to you once in your childhood. Over there a huge behemoth is looking at you, and here a little man turned his backs to you, there's a rock that looks like a fox, and next runs a hare, who still does not know that he is under the strict eyes of a red predator. They all come to life in your imagination, and maybe in these bizarre forms you will be able to see much more than just the remains of limestone rocks.
The famous gorge Barskaun is located 90 km from the town of Karakol above the village with the same name - Barskaun. The gorge goes deep for about 30 km. In the middle of the gorge there is a monument built in honor of the first Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who was very fond of this place and often rested in the nearby military sanatorium called Tamga. Lush greenery and dense coniferous forests richly adorn this wonderful place and attract a lot of tourists and local people. Gorge is famous for its beautiful waterfalls which go by several cascades located in the picturesque forest area not far from the road. Waterfalls have such poetic names as "Beard of elder", "Champagne drops", "Bowl of Manas."
Thanks to the beauty of these waterfalls this place is visited by a large number of people. Some of the waterfalls even have acquired legends, for example one of them tells a story about a great Manas with his army who went past this place. The life-giving flow of cool and crystal clear water was flowing from the slopes of the mountains. Manas army was very tired from the road and it was the most convenient place to drink and take a break. Manas first dipped his powerful arm into the water and by this move he accidentally made another waterfall. Since then, this waterfall got its name "Bowl of Manas."
But the biggest waterfall, reaching a height of about one hundred meters is, of course, a waterfall called "Barskaun", which is popularly called the "Tears of snow leopard." It is also surrounded by legends, the most famous of which is that once the mother leopard lived in these places, which left her cubs in the den and went hunting. But she had returned to an empty place, as in her absence dopey little leopards got out of the den and fell from the rocks. She found them dead. Leopard mother was heartbroken, and hot tears flowed from her eyes. She was crying so much that her tears formed a mighty waterfall and the nature still mourns on the loss of a snowy mountain’s queen.
Many small streams that flow into the river Barskaun are auriferous, and on sunny days, small grains of golden sand sparkle on their shores. Through the Barskaun gorge there goes the highway that leads to the mine "Kumtor" where the Kyrgyz gold is mined.
Close to Tamga village, located on the shores of beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul, with its blue waters, there is a relic huge in importance. This relic attracts a large number of tourists, Buddhist pilgrims and just ordinary people. The name of this historical monument is "Tamga Tash" - literally «Tagged Stone". While for many people this stone is nothing, but a historical object, for Buddhists this stone is of great importance, as one of the most famous Buddhist mantra is carved on the stone - "Om Mani Padme Hum", which has many interpretations, but the most famous of them suggests that God or the universal mind is burning in our hearts like a lotus flower.
In fact, at this place there are four stones, each with ornate carved inscriptions. What is also interesting that the inscriptions are different in the style of writing, and even in time. For example the first and third stones date back to XV-XVII centuries, when Buddhism took not the least important role in Central Asia. The second stone though dates to the time of Saks (II century BC), long before Buddhists, came to this place. This rock has a cavity, which suggests that the stone was used to perform certain rituals.
People come to this place for the purpose of positive energy, to enjoy the peace of this amazing place, to touch the history and perhaps to understand the real purpose of this great work of people who believed in something more than just the world, the people who led entire nations in the hope to change their vision, to take the mind of a common man away from his pressing problems, and show him how amazing can the world around him be, to help him plunge into the mystery of nature and finally take the path of beauty.
Geographical location and nature
Kyrgyz republic is located in the north-east Central Asia. On the West it borders with Uzbekistan (border length 1099 km), on the north – with Kazakhstan (1051 km), on the south - with Tadjikistan (870 km) and China on south-east (858 km). The whole border length is 3878 km. The whole area is 198500 sq.km (5,3% - forests, 4,4% - water, 54,1% - agricultural fields, 36,2% - other lands). The biggest length from east to west is 925 km and from north to south is 454 km. The biggest part of the territory is taken by the Tian-Shan mountain system and only on the south-west of the country there is the other mountain system - Pamir-Alay. On the south-east, on the border with China there is the highest point of Tian-Shan - Peak Pobeda (7439 m). On the south-west of Kyrgyzstan on the border with Tadjikistan there is the second seventhousander - Peak Lenin (7134 m). Mountain systems are separated by alpine valleys and basins. On the north there are Chu and Talas valleys, on the south-west – Fergana valley, on the south – Alay valley. The main river is Naryn and the biggest lake of the country is Issyk-Kul. There is gold, antimony, mercury, coal, oil and gas mining. Among other natural resources there is a hydropower potential. Agricultural lands cover about 7% of the territory. Meadows and pastures – 42%.
Kyrgyzstan has continental climate the character feature of which is the dry air. Due to this fact there are 247 sunny days in a year on the whole country's territory.
Due to the strong inhomogeneity of the relief there are several climate zones: subpolar in alpine areas, moderate in the foothills and subtropical in valley areas.
Summer here is dry and hot. Average valley temperature in July is + 20-27C, in midlands + 15-17 C, in highlands +5 C, sometimes the temperature in highlands may be a lot lower.
Average year temperature in January varies from -2 C to -8 C in valleys and from -8 C to -20 C in the areas of mid heights. In highlands the average January temperature often go lower -28 C.
Kyrgyzstan has its own pole of Cold. It's located in Ak-Sai valley. The minimum temperature registered here was -54 C.
Biggest part of the fallouts falls in May-June and also at the end of autumn and almost all winter. The maximal amount varies from 230 mm in valleys and 950 mm in mountains. In winter the snow at the foothills may reach 1 m height and at the highlands the snow is very deep and never melts. The biggest amount of fallouts is on the western slope of Fergana ridge - 1090 mm and the smallest is at the western shore of Issyk-Kul lake in Rybachie town - 144 mm.
According to experts the population of Kyrgyzstan is about 5482000 people (2009), the most part of which is Kyrgyz nation – 69,9%. Kyrgyz people live in all regions of the country mostly in rural areas.
Uzbeks, the population of which is about 14,5% is the second ethnic component of the country, from old times they were settled in Osh region, in Chu and Fergana valleys, Naryn and Talas regions and also in Issyk-Kul basin.
There are 8,6% of Russians in the country, they mostly live in all big towns of the country. The Ukrainians that came to the country along with Russians are about 5,5% of the population and live densely in many towns of Chu region and around the whole Kyrgyzstan.
Also from biggest ethnic diasporas there are Germans, that came to the country in XIX century from Ukraine and settled mostly in Talas region and on the territory of Kant town and Chu valley. Tatars that live only in towns. Dungans that came to Kyrgyzstan in XIX century from north-western China and Uigurs the most part of which came in the country escaping “Cultural Revolution” in China in 50th of twentieth century. The amount of each of these diasporas doesn’t exceed one percent of all population and doesn’t have strict localization.
State flag of Kyrgyz Republic is a red width in the center of which there is a sun disk with fourty equally divergent golden rays. Inside the sun disk the tunduk of Kyrgyz Yurt is drawn in red color.
The width of the flag is three fifth of its length. The diameter of the sunray disk is three fifth of its width. The ratio of the sun disk and the sunray disk is three to five. Diameter of Tunduk is the half of the diameter of the sunray disk.
The red monochrome of the flag symbolizes valor and courage. Vivifying effulgent golden sun, diving in its own rays is the symbol of eternal life and represents peace and wealth, aspiring the light and knowledge. 40 rays united in a circle mean 40 ancient tribes coming together into sole Kyrgyzstan.
Tunduk is the symbol of ancestral home in the wide meaning of the world as the universe. It represents not only the stability of the house, way of life, secular nation traditions, but also more deep philosophical union of the Earth and the sky. Tunduk symbolizes the union of the nations living in the country. The red color of the flag was the color of the flag of generous Manas.
Approved by Jogorku Kenesh on 3rd March of 1992.
State coat of arms
In the state coat of arms of Kyrgyzstan there is a golden eagle spreading its wings symbolizing the freedom of the country aspiring the best, generosity, vigilance and highness of thoughts of Kyrgyz nation living in the country of mountains. Water smooth surface of the pearl of Kyrgyzstan Issyk-Kul lake is the symbol of nature beauty and the spring of life and energy.
Mountain summits lightened by the sun look like the white Kyrgyz hats. Cotton and Wheat fringing the coat of arms tell us about Kyrgyz cultures' variety and of their union, merging all their difference in one sole unit - Kyrgyz nation.
Approved by Jogorku Kenesh on 14 of January of 1994.
Som is the national currency of Kyrgyzstan. One som equals to 100 tyiyns. Decree on the introduction of the national currency “som” was adopted by the parliament of Kyrgyzstan on 10 May 1993. The first issue of banknotes of 1, 5 and 20 soms and also their change of 1, 10 and 50 tyiyns was issued by the Kyrgyz bank forces in 1993.
Today som is represented by ten banknotes: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000. Change signs, tyiyns, at first were of a square form and represented by three banknotes: 1, 10 and 50 tyiyns. Though nowadays the banknotes of 1 tyiyn are not used even in banks and national institutes of Kyrgyzstan. Banknotes of 10 tyiyns are rarely used. In January of 2008 the coins were issued denominations of 10 and 50 tyiyns, 1, 3, 5 soms and in december of 2009 the10 som coin was issued. In the same year on 2nd of March the banknote of 5000 som was issued.
Kyrgyzstan was the first country of CIS (excluding Russia) to approve its own national currency. At first one som was equal to 25 US cents, though the inflation gradually lowered the currency value. Today one US dollar is approximately equal to 47 soms.
Som is the only legal tender on the territory of Kyrgyzstan though practically Russian rubles , US dollars and Euro are excepted or even demanded for hotel payments or at the organizations of mountain climbing.
Banks in Kyrgyzstan start working from 9:00 – 9:30 till 17:00 – 17:30 from Monday till Friday with Saturdays and Sundays to be the days off.
The money can be changed in bank offices or at the currency exchange offices that work 24/7 and also at many local stores. For the exchange there are the currencies to be excepted: US dollar, Euro, English Pound, Russian Ruble, Kazakh Tenge, Uzbek Sum, Chinese Yuan and other. Exchange rate is better in the capital. At the US dollars exchange better to have the banknotes of the new issue, for the old issued banknotes the rate is noticeably lower even at the national institutes. According to the same reason its better to exchange the banknotes of the bigger nominal such as 50 and 100 dollars.