Today I would like to introduce you to one of the key words in tourism. “CBT” – I wonder if you have heard about this before or know what meaning it carries in itself.
CBT is read as “Community based tourism” and this already is telling what the tourism of this kind is all about. Here, the tour agencies and tour guides rely on the community itself in organizing trips with tourists.
CBT mostly includes horseback riding, folklore shows or national cuisine in itself. the reason is, above said experiences can only be felt for real with the local people, who are really good at those spheres.
They grew up in those surroundings and literally Lived with them. So, there can be no one else who can demonstrate the national cuisine, folklore or horseback riding better.
Uzgen city, that we visited recently is located in the Osh province of the country. There is another city, which is called Osh in the same province. That city is said to be even more ancient than Uzgen, with about three thousand years of history!
The fact may surprise so many people, since such an ancient city is supposed to be really famous all over the world, but it is not… However, the ancient Chinese history and the scirptures that belong to it have the mentions of such city and the nomads, named Kyrgyz people.
Osh is called the second capital of Kyrgyzstan in the south according to its population and the territory. The biggest number of citizens are Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the city. There are some disputes, which say that before Soviet Union, the city actually belonged to Uzbeks and because the territory of Kyrgyzstan was too small to turn it into a republic, the city of Osh was gifted to Kyrgyz people.
The city is getting modernized year by year, but there are still some parts of that ancienty saved in its streets, buildings and bazaars…
Today I would like you to recall the great Karakhanid empire of Central Asia, because our topic now will be another capital of that Kaganate in the south of Kyrgyzstan. It is the city of Uzgen, one of the small but rich with history and historical heritage towns in Osh province.
Uzgen existed for many centuries and the fact that it was mentioned in Chinese scripts in the 1st century BC can prove the information. The city itself is very small with the population of 50000 people. The streets are very ancient and the one storied houses also show the modesty of the population. However, even from far away you can see the special minaret of Uzgen, with the height of 44 meters. It used to be the place from where they called for prayers and now it just stands there silently…
There are three more mausoleums from Karakhanid empire in the city. It is amazing how perfect their condition is despite so many centuries passed by since their construction! The ornaments and decor of those buildings just leave the person in awe…
A person, who is interested in history must have heard at least once or twice about the nation called “Usun”. Usuns were one of the strongest nomadic nations, who lived long ago, even before our century.
In history they are known as fierce, brave and even dangerous ones, which made their neighbors shiver in fear from their shadows. It is said that even the great Chinese dynasties were also always aware of them and did their best to have peace between. This was the reason why they strengthened relationships by giving their daughters, especially princesses, to the Usun Kings. There are some interesting stories about them as well.
Their capital was sitauted by Issyk Kul lake, when it was much smaller in size. Unfortunately, as the years passed by, the water level went up and the city of Chigu Chen went underwater. Just recently the city was discovered by the explorers and there were pretty big amount of things were found, which can proove the existence of such city.
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.