The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan

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Among the most visited places in Kyrgyzstan there is the one that maintains the first place for years. It is one of the largest alpine lakes in the world – Issyk Kul, the second after Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. The fact that it is surrounded by two mountain chains of the Central Tien Shan Range and the stunning nature make it the real Pearl of the country. Issyk-Kul is a popular vacation spot, not only for the inhabitants of Kyrgyzstan, but also for visitors from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Issyk Kul is rich with historical treasures, such as the caves of Stone Age people, the stone burial mounds of cattle breeding tribes, the art galleries of petroglyphs stretching for hundreds of kilometers around the lake, the stone roads and huge burial mounds of the Scythian kings, silent stone statues and so on. The ruins of ancient and medieval cities which prospered in the times of the Great Silk Road now lie buried underwater, vanished from memory without a trace after centuries of war and conquest.

The most ancient mention of Lake Issyk-Kul can be found in Chinese chronicles. In 629 A.D., Hsuan-zhang, a Chinese Buddhist monk on a pilgrimage to India, reached Lake Issyk-Kul after an arduous crossing of the Tien Shan mountains. The Chinese called the lake Zhehai “the warm lake”, as the lake never freezes, which completely corresponds with the Turkic name. “The color of the water is greenish-black,” wrote Hsuan-zhang, “its taste is salty and bitter at the same time”…

Silk Road Heritage

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History is very interesting and mysterious. On the other hand, it is really confusing when it sounds not the same in different places. The fact is that it is written by people and people always write what they think is true… So sometimes we can do nothing but agree with that someone else’s opinion. However, there are some ways to prove whether something had happened for real or not.

As an example, they say that Kyrgyzstan is so ancient and important part of Silk Road, so on and so far. But as we see, it is now a very small and unknown country, which does not really have that spirit of Great country! Thanks to the proof, we can definitely be sure about the statement: there is one of the most famous caravanserais of Silk Road in this land!

It is a beautiful 15th century Caravanserai, called Tash Raabat (Stone Door). Situated in Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan, the place now remains as ruins of ancient vibrant caravanserai. Despite the fact that it is pretty hard to reach and away from civilization, tourists are always excited to visit the place and even stay there for couple days!

Broken Heart

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Let me share one of the legends in Kyrgyzstan, which broke my heart… It is about one of the beautiful gorges Jeti Oguz and its heart-shaped mount.

Once upon a time, there was a khan famous for his cruelty. He had everything he wished: many beautiful wives in his harem, countless gold in treasure. In a blink of an eye, he had reached the age of seventy-five.

One day when the khan was hunting around his camp, he saw a very beautiful girl. She walked in a graceful way, and she had long plaited hair. Without thinking twice, the khan made up his mind to have her for his own by any means, and he sent his men to seize the girl and deliver her to him.

The girl was from a poor family, and she had been engaged to a young man from her childhood. The young people loved one another so much; they could not imagine being out of each other’s sight. As soon as they learned that the khan’s warriors had been sent after the girl, the young lovers decided to run away up the mountains to hide there. But the envoys, obedient to the khan’s will, killed the young man, put the girl on horseback and started to the khan’s camp.

On the way across the mountains, the girl was overwhelmed with grief and hopelessness. Her heart gave way, and she died.
On that very place appeared a mountain. If you stand at the foot of it, high against the sky you will see the shape of a broken human heart. In the middle of the mountain there is red clay. It seems as if the heart is bleeding…

Patterned Stones

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Patterned/embroided stones or Saimaluu-Tash in Kyrgyz is a place, situated in a narrow canyon on a northeastern slope of  the Fergansky range, in the region of Kugart pass. Crossing this pass from the agricultural Fergana Valley to the valleys of the Inner Tien Shan. In the region, at an altitude of 3,000 – 3,200m, is the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Central Asia, which have been gouged out of basaltic rock.

Petroglyphs have survived on stones and rocks at many sites throughout the globe. In spite of the fact that people have been studying them for 200 years, some of them still remain a mystery to us. Saimaluu-Tash is the largest gallery of petroglyphs in Central Asia and consists of about 90 thousand individual specimens.

A wide range of ages shows the best correlation with the richness of its subjects, characters and symbols. The animal world is widely represented at the site, there are elephants, lions, snow-leopards, wolves, ibex, red deer, birds and reptiles. Domestic animals are shown: horses, bulls and yaks. Multi-image compositions depict scenes of hunting, domestication of wild animals, migrating along mountain paths, ritual dances of masked people, sun and moon shaped men driving on harnessed chariots and carriages, dances of demons, resembling human creatures with canine heads and hypertrophied huge arms. Authors with high academic credentials regard Saimaluu-Tash as monument of culture of universal importance.

Since the place is situated in such high and deep inside area, it can be visited during only 2 months a year: July and August. Otherwise, snow will make it impossible to reach.

Greek walnuts in Kyrgyzstan?

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Is it not a bit strange to hear about greek walnuts in Kyrgyzstan? Maybe it sounds pretty simple, but after the little fact I’m going to share, you may also think the same.

Did you know that the biggest walnut forest is situated in Kyrgyzstan? Yes, the biggest one on Earth! That amazing walnut forest is situated on south of Kyrgyzstan, in Jalal-Abad region. The place itself is called Arslanbob. There are some legends about how greek walnut could appear in the heart of Asia.

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Many of them say that the walnut tree was brought by Alexander the Great, who conquered the whole world and has been in the territories of modern Kyrgyzstan as well. This is when he planted the walnut and it grew into thousands of other trees during centuries. These long-living trees can give fruit for up to a thousand years!

Nowadays, the forest is not only the source of yummy and useful walnuts, but also the perfect place to spend vacations. The local people enjoy the beautiful mountain view, coolness of amazing waterfalls during hot summer days.

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The city under ground

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Kyrgyzstan is so rich with history that I still cannot go on to another topic. Today, let me take you to the northern part of that country, which is not less attractive with ancient treasures.

Just an hour ride from the country’s capital Bishkek, there is an old town, called Tokmok. Each and every tourist, who come to Kyrgyzstan, definitely has to visit that town to see the remaining ancient city ruins and its main tower Burana. It carries so much history and legends within, that makes the listener look at it with awe!

Explore 3000-year-old city!

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Could you ever imagine that a tiny country in Central Asia, which got its independence only a couple decades before, could include a city that is actually 3000 years old?! If you are still doubting about it, then let me open the doors of Asia’s heart – Kyrgyzstan for you!

Kyrgyzstan is the very country which includes that treasure.Its ancient city is called “Osh” and is known as the southern capital of the country. According to the artifacts and ancient characters found in Osh, the city must have been existing for over 3000 years. So, this is a perfect place to go on an educational tours as well!