This one of the historical site is neither a gorgeous monument, nor a breathtaking rock art. All you can see in San Tash is the huge number of small stones gathered all together. So what makes it so special? Here is the answer:
The place got its importance for the fact that one of the most famous legends about the great warrior and a leader Tamerlan is linked to this place, situated in Issyk Kul region. The legend says that before leaving to the next big battle, Tamerlan gathered his troops. He told them to pick a stone each and put in one place. When the war finished, they came back to the same place and each took the stone back. Unfortunately, this time the number of soldiers was less than the stones, which meant that many troops died during war.
Tamerlan let the stones remain there as a memory to his brave soldiers. Nowadays they call it San Tash, which literally means “counting stone” from Kyrgyz language.
Today’s our trip will be to the “relatives” of those wonderful petroglyphs – rock sculptures! It may be even more interesting to see them for they are bigger in size and the technics that they used definitely seem harder.
Kyrgyz people call them “bal-bal”s. They can be found almost all over the country, but the biggest collection of them is located in ancient city of Tokmok, just about an hour from Bishkek, adjacent to the tower of Burana.
Most of them are in the shape of a human being – cute smiling uncles! There are some scripts on the rocks as well, whether with Arabic or Persian letters. This shows that bal-bals date back to the period of Turkish rulings. However, most muslims avoid painting or building the sculpture of a human, since the religion prohibits to do it, so there are versions that those masterpieces may already be 6-12 years old.
The open-air gallery of rock sculptures is now one of the most visited places by tourists. This is where they feel how it is like to be the part of a history…
The petroglyph collection by the Issyk Kul, we visited last time, was just an introduction to even greater one. There is another open air museum in Kyrgyzstan, which is located in Jalal-Abad province. It is the world’s largest heritage, consisted of more than ten thousand petroglyphs!
The largest collection of amazing patterned stones is known by the name of Saimaluu Tash (“embroided/patterned stone” in Kyrgyz). Huge amount of stones, displaying variety of pictures lay all around. You can definitely call the visit to Saimaluu Tash as a trip to the long past. The reason is, those “masterpieces” of ancient civilization date back to the 2nd century B.C. – 8th century A.D.
You can call it the cultural, traditional or even religious tour, since all those branches of a nation can be found in this valley of black and white paintings. They have been studied by a lot of people, however, they were not explored completely yet…
Just near the same warm lake – Issyk Kul, in Cholpon Ata town, there is an open air museum. It is not the simple presentation of modern people’s arts, but an unusual treasure from long history. The area includes more than thousands of petroglyphs – paintings of different types engraved on the rocks.
The first petroglyphs were done before 8th century BC, by the representatives of Saka tribes. They usually painted the animals, such as goats, reindeers, birds and so on. Later ancient people started painting people, the pictures from their daily lives, such as hunting scenes, fruit gathering, etc.
As their culture and knowledge developed, they even wrote on the rocks. We can see those verses, some of which are prayers, at that museum of petroglyphs. Those treasures went through so many centuries and still were able to remain till today. So it is one of the must see places in the list of those, who appreciate history.
Besides the hot springs and mineral sources, there is a whole LAKE of warm water in Kyrgyzstan! Actually, the topic is about the most famous lake of the country – Issyk Kul, translated as “Warm Lake”. With the depth of 702 meters, it stands after the Caspian and at an altitude of 1,609 meters above sea level, it is the second largest alpine lake after Lake Titicaca in Bolivia .
Two mountain chains of the Central Tien Shan Range border the lake – in the north the Kungei-Alatau (in Turkic: “facing the sun”), and in the south the Terskei-Alatau (in Turkic: “turned away from the sun”). About one hundred large and small rivers flow down into the lake from these peaks. The glaciers surrounding the lake give it such a stunning view that it is now called as the Pearl of Kyrgyzstan.
The lake is mentioned even in ancient Chinese scriptures. The Chinese called the lake Zhehai “the warm lake”, as the lake never freezes. “The color of the water is greenish-black,” wrote Hsuan-zhang (Chinese pilgrim), “its taste is salty and bitter at the same time. Wide waves either run in huge billows, or rise up and rush forward with uncontrollable force. In the lake dragons and fish dwell together, and unusual monsters sometimes appear from its depths. This is why travelers pray for their safe passage…”
It took a while for people to develop sciences, make variety of inventions and create comfort that we now have in modern houses. They are all worthy of praises but there are some phenomenas in nature, that can amaze us even more. One of them are mineral springs.
These springs provide us with such waters that already have the mixture of healing recipes inside. Some provide not only useful, but also warm or hot water. Kyrgyzstan is very rich with such sources. One of them is situated in the south, among Alai mountain ranges. Jyluu Suu is the name of that hot spring, which means “Warm Water”.
The place is unknown to many people, but it is really worth visiting. Location among majestic hills and beautiful green forest is perfect for family picnics and vacation trips. There are special swimming pools as well, filled with the spring water. One of the pools is for men and another is for women, so it is a perfect places even for ones with strict cultural or religious rules.
Today we will go more into the topic that was started last time. There I mentioned about the old caravanserai, which is called Tash Rabat. Its literal meaning is “Stone Door”, for the fact that it was built with stone and was the door to the tradespeople of the Great Silk Road.
The ancient caravanserai is situated in Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan. Its location is far inside the mountains, away from civilization, just like a pearl deep inside the ocean.
However, when it is reached, there will be no regrets for witnessing such an amazing site. This is how the visitors usually feel and keep going to the place, despite hardships of the road. They even stay there for couple days in the yurts near the ancient heritage and experience real nomad life. Here are the reviews of those excited visitors about this mysterious and charming place:
The Great Silk road appeared in the third century B.C. as a trading route and existed until the 16th century. The ancient trading cities located along the Silk Road were the evidents of so many important historical events and some of them still keep the heritage left after the great route.
The Great Silk Road was one of the most significant achievements in the history of World civilization. An established networks of caravan roads crossed Europe and Asia from the Mediterranean to China and exchanged culture and traditions at the same time.
The most extensive site of the Silk Road passed through the territories of Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan. Caravans laden with silk from China, spices and semi-precious stones from India, silver products from Iran, Byzantian cloth, Afrosyab ceramics and many other goods passed through the boundless steppes of the Sary Archa, had to overcome the passes of the Pamir, Tien-Shan, and Altai Mountains, and cross the Murghab, Amu Darya and Syr-Darya rivers.
One of the most important heritages of Silkway is the Tash Rabat caravanserai. It still exists and bears solitary witness to these extraordinary feats of blood, sweat and bravery. This extraordinary valley now welcomes a new wave of visitors – travelers but still echoes to the ghostly footsteps of Silk Road traders.
Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city was also a crossroads trading center. Known as a charmed and cultured place, rich in fruit and nut forests, it flourished during the heyday of the Silk Road.
In our modern world of technologies and urbanization, it can be a bit hard to find a place to stay in peace with nature. It is a good news to realize that there are some countries that offer special eco-tours. Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia is one of them.
The country is famous for its huge amount of untouched lands, including majestic mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers. The visits to those places will leave the one in awes and make them fall in love with such beauty.
I often hear parents complaining about lack of ways to entertain their kids. Well, there are so many options actually. However, not all parents can afford them. For instance, not everyone is rich enough to take their kids to Disney land every month.
I would advice parents to let their children be closer to nature, to become friends with it. It would, first of all, soften their hearts and on the other hand, exploring the wonders of nature is something that a human being has not completed yet. So, this fact itself guarantees that the child will not ever get bored doing it!