Over 90% of Kyrgyzstan surface area is above 1500 m, of unspoiled nature and primordial beauty of towering mountains, which give Kyrgyzstan more than 28 thousand rivulets, sparkling streams and lucid brooks. There are 1923 large and small lakes in the Republic but largest and best known is Issyk-Kul lake.
Places to visit:
78 km South-East of Bishkek located Issyk-Ata valley and spa complex based on local sulphur hot springs known since 2-3 centuried A.D. The hot springs also give the hot water to 3 public outdoor swimming pools built on the hill over the valley.
Upstream Issyk-Ata river (30 minutes hike) there are 10 m waterfall and ancient place of worship and piligrimage - Buddha inscription carved on the face of the boulder by ancient people in 10th century. Further up the valley there are 3 alpine lakes which lie in a full day distance from the end of the road. Also from here start trekking routes to Alamedin valley and some other neighboring ravines.
The upper grounds of the valley are used by local shepherds as pastures where they breed their numerous herds of horses, sheep and cows. A hundred meters before the arch - the entrance to spa complex, on the hill over the valley, built 3 concrete outdoor swimming pools - filled with naturally heated sulphur water which comes by tubes from one of 130 known in the area hot springs. The water is over 30 degrees so it is possible to swim even on coldest days.
It is well advised to stay in water no more than 10-15 minutes, as longer staying may affect negative influence on one's heart.
Enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains, lake Issyk-Kul literally meaning “hot lake” is said to be the world’s second-largest alpine lake or second highest navigable lake in the world after lake Titicaca in South America, the lake never freezes even in the depths of winter due to some thermal activity, strong winds, physics of deep water and unique microclimate over the lake.
Measuring 180 km long by 60 km across the lake presently is about 700 metres deep at it’s deepest and sits 1600 metres above sea level. In lake flows 118 large and small rivers, but there is no streams flowing out of the lake. That is why the water is slightly salty. The lake's water consist of 10 billion tonns of different salts, but there is 5 times less salt then in Oceanic water what is right enough for keeping the lake clean and very comfortable for swimming.
Called "The Pearl of Central Asia" the lake changes colour depending on day time and sun position, from pale green to turquoise blue. The crystal clear water has so exceptional blue color, 3-4 times more saturated by color then Geneva lake in Switzerland. The one would be astonished with it's size and scenary of huge celestial snowcaped mountan peaks shining from across - in fact one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The area around the lake is well known for its beautiful sandy shores among locals and people from Kazakhstan and Russia, most of the resorts and hotels are on the north shore of the lake; the area between here and Almaty in Kazakhstan is excellent trekking territory. Also there are many great valleys with number of trekking/climbing/walking possibilities on the southeast part of Issyk-Kul area.
Jety-Oguz – balneal-climatic resort is located on the north slot of Terskey Ala-Too, in Jety-Oguz gorge. At an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level, by Jety-Oguz rocks in a Jety-Oguz river valley, in the most pictorial place with coniferous woods, at 28 km distant from town Karakol and 329 km distant from Bishkek.
The resort location, which is in the south of the average widths, leads to a big deal of hours of sun radiance, high sun irradiation voltage, enriching with ultraviolet rays, making less dusty, high air ionizing. The year sum of sun radiance is 1828 hours. The atmosphere pressure is low - 602 mm. mercury pole. In the summer the average month air temperature is +13-15ºC, in the winter - the coldest temperature compare with others resorts Kyrgyzstan.
It was built in 1931. Since 1965 the resort works all year. There are 300 rests for treatment. There is an access to 2-3 person rooms with beds ands conveniences. The existence of unique thermal waters with content of radon made this resort as climatic-balneal.
The mineral waters are valued with their curative characteristic. The water temperature is 25-42ºC. The water is not salty, without smell and taste. It consists of bromine, iodine, manganese, nickel, lead, zinc, aluminum, chalk, copper, biological active component-radon.
There is mud therapy specializing hospital, mineral baths, curative food buffet.
The basic curative factors are thermal waters, which are weakly and midly mineralized, also waters of chloride-natrium-calcium composition. The main feature of these mineral waters is high content of radon and doesn’t have any competition in the world. There are also some curative ooze mud form Jergalan field, electro-light treatment, subsurface shower-massage, gynecological watering, curative exercises, swimming pool massage.
Recommendations to the treatment of next diseases: supporting-motion system, bone-muscles system, gynecological and skin cases. The water from a wellspring № 6 is used for treatment of stomach cases. Some baths, shower, mud, massage, acupuncture, curative gymnastic, some outdoors, terrenkur, tourism are used for treatment too. The term of treatment is 10-20 days. There is a cinema, a library, a pool. The local people call this place as Beirek (buds).
Djalal-Abad is famous for its spas. There is a legend that the water from the Hozret-Ayub-Paigambar spa cured lepers. According to the legend there was a grave, a mosque and the khan's palace near the spa. The Djalal Abad sanatoria, “Kurort”, is based on one of the spas on one of the hills overlooking the town – the waters are salty, but people from a wide area to collect bottles of it. Near the entrance to the Kurort (the health resort) is a cafe with a fine view over the town – the "Ikram-Ajy" Panorama, at a height of 1000 meters , with a complex that consists of a “national crafts hall”, souvenir shop and an entertainment hall –from here you can appreciate how green the city is, as the trees rise above the low-rise building. The spas are also the source for several different brands of mineral water.
Cultural & Eco-Tourism
Kyrgyzstan is one of the last few unpolluted grounds on our planet that along with beautiful alpine nature has preserved nomadic traditions, rich heritage and cultural continuity that dates back to many thousand years of history and antiquity. The ecological richness and the cultural heritage of Kyrgyzstan are well fit to apprehending nature/man relationship. Immersed in a mainly mountainous territory, the Kyrgyz people always moved in great spaces according to a way of life regulated by seasonal displacements.
Placed along the Great Silk Road on the historic crossroads of trade and cultural exchanges between China, Iran, India and the Arabian Sea, Kyrgyzstan has become home for more than 80 nationalities and ethnic communities. Kyrgyz, Russians, Ukranian, Uzbek, Germans, Tatars, Kazakh, Uigur and Tadjik among others. As a multi-natinal state Kyrgyzstan has a rich variety of languages, literature, folklore, arts, crafts, customs and communities that lend colour and variety to Kyrgyz culture. The Kyrgyz Republic firmly upholds the equality of all communities; the official languages are Russian and Kyrgyz, yet Russian forms a common language of all groups.
Places to visit:
«Маnаs-оrdо» In 20 km to northeast from the city of Talas at the skirt of mountain Manastyn-Chokusu on coast of the mountain river Ken- Коl, there is an interesting monument connected with a beautiful legend. According to the legend, many centuries back, here the legendary hero of the Kyrgyz epos «Маnas» has been buried. The mausoleum of XIV century «Маnаs-оrdо» - a tomb constructed as a tomb of the daughter of Emir. But the legend says, that it is a tomb of Маnаs, built by his wife Kanykei, who to not attract the attention of enemies wishing to profane the memory of hero, ordered to write in an inscription a name of the daughter of Emir. In the territory of complex «Маnаs-оrdо» there are sak-usun barrow burials (I century BC) and monuments of Ken-Kol tomb dated I-II century BC, which belonged to Huns who came to Central Asia. Here it is possible to examine tomb stones - stone sculptures (balbals) of VI-IX centuries BC, as well as one of the thirteen stones with the оrhon-Yenisei inscription.
Talas State Reserve. The gorge «Besh-Tash» is to the south of the city of Talas on northern slopes of Ala-Too. On slopes grow undersized juniper trees, some places passing to picturesque groves of the park type. Here at the height of 2997 m. there is a pond-like lake «Besh-Tash» of turquoise color. Here many marmots are found in vicinities. In Besh-Tash the sports-tourist complex with pool is created, horse routes are developed.
«Chon-Kapka» – the gorge of Echkili-Too ridge on Talas river, here the Kirov water basin is built. In the territory of area there are more than 70 lakes, many of which are small, high-mountainous, of a glacial origin.
BURANA TOWER - THE RUINS OF ANCIENT BALASAGYN
75 km east from the city is a 25m-high tower, which dates from the 11th century and is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagyn. The name “Burana” most probably comes from wrongly pronounced word “Monara” which means Minaret. Minaret is an obligated part of any mosque, it is a tower from which the Muslims were called up for the next praying. Some centuries ago the tower was 44 metres high, but after an earthquake in early 1900, the upper part fell down.
The tower and a mosque were located in the city centre of Balasagyn town - one of the centres of Karahanid state. The large area around the town was enclosed with 2 rows of fence, that still visible from the top of the tower. Nowadays there is a small museum of Burana, represented with the tower, the remains of three tomb mausoleums, and other exhibits, such us: stone sculpture - Balbals, petrogliphes, coins and other things founded during scientific explorations.
Balasagyn city originaly was covering the territory of 25 sq. kilometers and was an important trade of the Great Silk Road. It was a birth place of Yusuf Balasaguni - a famous Turkic philosopher of XI century.
Karahanids (Qarakhanids) who built this city were the ones who brought Islam to the region along with new technologies. They had a strong statehood until Chingiz Khans troops destroyed their capitals in XIII century.
BALBALS - STONE SCULPTURES
Balbals - ancient stone sculptures of Kyrgyzstan. With settling of Turkic tribes on the territory of KR, appear a new ceremony of burring; in which wildly spread the custom of installation the stone sculptures on the graves. Mostly they made of granite, sometimes from limestone. Also the only flagstones were selected for statues. Sometimes the surfaces were meticulously trimmed, sometimes not.
In its mass the stone sculptures are not the same, scientists distinguish 2 main groups: the 1st group are valued, round sculptures on which clearly traced the proportions of the figures and details: clothes, jewelry, weapon. The 2nd group are flat sculptures, when on the stone the contour line image just a head with the face features, or even rarely the whole figure. The last group is dominated and probably older then the 1st group. Usually the statues represent the Male-stern fighters, rarely female, the faces are mongoloid. In the right hand there is a vessel, on the waist there is a knife or sabre.
Stone sculptures date to 6-10 centuries and just very few of them to 10-12 centuries. One of the main causes of disappearing is spreading of Islam, and as it is known Islam forbid imaginations of alive people, animals, birds.
The stone sculptures were created by skillful sculptors-masons who were the great artists of the time. They could correctly reproduce the proportions of the figure, face features, jewelry. There are also 2 hypothesizes of the purposes these sculptures: the 1st one is what the stone statues represent dead Turks by themselves and the 2nd is what the stone statue is an imagination of an outstanding adversary killed by Turk in the real life, and who has to serve the winner in his next-after death life. Also, in most of the burial places main sculptures were surrounded by a number of smaller rocks that were supposed to represent the number of enemies that person killed during his life so they became his servants in the afterlife.
North of Kyrgyzstan is the single place in Central Asia where the stone statues are well known.
AK-BESHIM-THE RUINS OF ANCIENT SETTLEMENT
Ak-Beshim is a site of ancient settlement dated to 6-12 cc. Located 6 km to south-east of Tokmak township. Ak-Beshim attributed to the types of towns typical for middle century Central Asia. The central part - shahristan, was enclosed with thick fortified walls with towers. In ancient times here lived traders and craftspeople. The territory is equal of a size of 16 square km. Archaeological digs were started here in 1938 and continued until 1958. At the time of dig here were found the remnants of residential constructions, crockery, coins, items of art: gilded wares, sculptures, and other archaeological monuments.
In south part of shahristan scholars discovered a temple of two buddhas, filled with remnants of sculptures, painting and building materials. Many scientists suppose that Ak-Beshim is all that remained from town of Suiyab-the centre of western turks, tyurgeshes and kagans karluks.
The sight is located only 30 km east of Bishkek in the village "Krasnaya Rechka".
The irregular mounds and softy eroded clay walls rippling off the valley floor are the remains of the Silk Road City of Navekat, which flourished from the 6th to the 12th centuries. The founders were Sogdians; Navekat means "new city" in Sogdian. Archaeologists have discovered remains of a Buddhist temple, a fortress, a Karakhanid palace complex, and Buddhist as well as Nestorian-Christian cemeteries.
PETROGLYPHS OF CHOLPON-ATA
Issyk-Kul Open Air museum In Cholpon-Ata is the most accessible and visitable part of North Issyk-Kul accumulation of the petroglyphs.
The petroglyphs were carved and painted onto the surface of some-granite and granitoid boulders that have been burnt black or brown by strong sunlight over thousands of years. The drawings were carved using metal or stone tools. The sizes of stones vary from 0,3m to 3,0m.
The first information about the petroglyphs of the Cholpon-Ata site was published in historical iterature at the end of the XIX century (Bartold V.V. and others).
That site was gigantic temple under open sky, which occupied western part of modern Cholpon-Ata town, and where ancient people worshipped to celestial bodies and did sacraments and mysteries. The rock paintings took an important sacramental role in realizing rituals. They were some kind of virtual sacrifice and prayer, printed on the stone. Alongside with the petroglyphs, there are stone circles, perhaps an ancient kin sacred sites with an interesting natural phenomena - geomagnetic propitious fields. There are some grounds for suppositions, that big stone circles (some tens meters in diameter) used as astronomy observatories.
Issyk-Kul petroglyphs are unique in many aspects. First, because of artistic realism of the images, many rock drawings belong to masterpieces of Saka-Scythian animal style art. Secondly, the sizes of some petroglyphs are more than one meter which is really rare. At third, many scenes and subjects are original, typical only for North Issyk-Kul petroglyphs. At forth, a technique of making some paintings, for example a relief image of deer, fulfilled with the usage as natural prominences of the stone. The central petroglyph in low part of the museum is an embodiment of all unique features. There is a flock of rock goats (teke or ibex). The figures of ibexes, perhaps the biggest in Central Asia presented with unusual expression that allows attributing this petroglyph to outstanding masterpiece Saka-Scythian animal style of art. The figures of hunters and tame-breeding bars (snow leopards) during penned hunt are one the background of the rock painting. This kind of driving off hunt existed in Ancient Egypt, where hunters used cheetah in hunting of antelope. By tie way, there is a petroglyph with images of hunting dynamically leopards in the museum. This petroglyph has not analogies in Central Asia.
Single and double images of deer, which embody mythical image mother-deer, so much widespread in Altai, Semirechie, and South Siberia, are very interesting. One of kyrgyz tribes was called Bugu ( in direct translation -red deer). Yet one century ago Bugu tribe honored mother-deer as their totem and ancestor.
Numerous images of Bactrian camel with riders and cameleers prove an existence north way of Great Silk Road yet in Saka- Usun epoch (VIII century B.C. - V century A.D.). The archaeological finds of coins from different states also confirms that the Great Silk Road passed through Issyk-Kul. A succession of art and painting traditions remains in Coins (shell) modern Kyrgyz folklore art. For example, many patterns inside animals with sacramental meanings are used in modern Kyrgyz wool carpets. North Issyk-Kul rock paintings are both important source about Kyrgyzstan's history and culture, and world heritage - an evidence art capability our ancestors.
THE DUNGAN WOODEN MOSQUE
The Dungan wooden Mosque, in Karakol town was built by a Chinese architect and 20 artisans between 1907 and 1910. It was built entirely of wood, without a single nail in the style of a Buddhist pagoda.
The Dungans first arrived in Karakol as refugees in 1877 and created a small community. The Bolsheviks closed the mosque from 1933 until 1943, but it was then reopened and has operated as a place of worship since then.
The Mosque is set into its own territory and the distinctive decoration (it is painted in bright colours - red, green and yellow - and bears reliefs depicting various types of flora and mythical animals such as dragons and the phoenix) gives it an original character. There is a veranda by the entrance to the large central space.
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is a fine example of a Russian Orthodox Church which served as a dance hall under the Soviets, and a school during the Second World War. Built on the site of an earlier church, in 1876, the current building was constructed between 1890-5.
During the construction a yurt served as a church for local population. The building consists of wooden walls on a stone foundation, and it is highly decorative. The five onion domes, which used to adorn it, were destroyed in the Soviet period.
Inside there is a number of icons - including some saved from Svetly Myz, and a copy of one of Saint Troitzy by Andrei Rublev (who lived in the 13th century). It has now been returned to active service as a church and some reconstruction was begun in 1961. It is now being renovated anew.
“Seven Bulls” gorge mentioned is located 30 km west of Karakol, and known for its “Seven red sandstone bulls” and “broken heart” of some beauty. Some km up the valley there is a huge flowers meadow with thousands of different colors and “Oguz bashee” peak rising up at the end of the gorge. The area is known for alternative trekking, hiking and mountaineering possibilities.
The largest lake in Naryn area is Lake Song Kul, lying at 3016 metres amongst steppe vegetation. It is 29 km long, 18 km across and 13 metres deep. The lake is home to countless wild geese, ducks and other waterfowl. It is one of the loveliest spots in Kyrgyzstan, surrounded by alternating white peaks, staying on the shore you can easily count the sheep on the opposite side of the lake. The lake's colour changes from violet to dark blue to pink, depending on the time of day and the weather. There are no solid buildings in this area - shepherds come here in June and stay in yurts all summer long.
Only place to find a place to stay here is a tent or, so called, "Yurt Inns" where you will be provided with sharing accommodation in yurt and traditional meals.
115 km south of Naryn, one can visit the beautifully preserved 15th century Tash Rabat caravansarai. Its importance for the science conclude not only because it is the latest building of ancient architecture in Kyrgyzstan, but also in unusual plan of the building, the kind of row materials and other things.
Firstly the caravanserai was mentioned by Mohamed Hider, the author, lived in 16th century. He supposed that Tash-Rabat was built by Mohamed Khan, who ruled in Mogulistan in the 1st part of 14th century.
Talking about the purposes of Tash-Rabat, the scientists suppose that functionally it is a caravanserai (the hotel) set on the brunch of Silk Road, but some other details, folk legends and stories give an ability to think Tash-Rabat was built by Nestorians, and served as Nestorian Church in the past.
Torugart Pass 3752m, one of two border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and China. The pass lies 400km south of Bishkek and 160km north of Kashgar. Border formalities might take some time but it will be overtaken by all the positive impressions that you will experience on the way. The way to the pass is surrounded with very relaxing scenary: yurts, yaks, horses and shepherds that make you forget about all the western rutine. On the way you will see the highest in Kyrgyzstan Lake Chatyr Kul. Set at 3520 m above sea level and measuring 23km long by 11km wide, it is 18 m deep at its deepest. The lake is frozen from October to May. The main Bishkek-Torugart highway to the Chinese border skirts Lake Chatyr Kul before arriving at the Torugart Pass.
SARY CHELEK NATURE RESERVE
Sary Chelek nature reserve is located in the west of the country in the valley of Chatkalskiy range in the Hodja-Ata river basin where apple woods meet walnut forest. Highest mountain ranges and blossoming valleys, high windshaped cliffs and rushing rivers, green woods and sky-blue lakes, green-grass fields and ice-shining summits, swamps and dry steppes - everything is represented on a small territory - a kingdom of majestic beauty.
Flora of the reserve is represented by more then a thousand species. Sary Chelek gives a home to about 160 species of birds and 34 sorts of mumbles among which snow leopard, Central Asian lynx, Tien-Shan brown bear, golden eagle that are protected by international red book. Plateau located on subalpine level of reserve is a monument of ancient ecological disaster.
Natural dam covering 15 sq km locking lake Sary Chelek a result of collapse of two mountain ridges. Rock slides blocked the river forming lake Sary Chelek. Lake appeared to be 7,5 km long and 240 meters deep.
Beautiful summit "Mustor" of 4200 meters in hight, always covered by snow is rising over Sary Chelek.
The vast tracts of woodland with nut and fruit trees in the valley of the River Arslanbob are the largest of their kind in the world, measuring over 600,000 hectares. One of the legends says that Alexander the Great once led his troops to these parts.
Here, it is said, he completed his campaign to the east and decided to return home. He took with him fruits and nuts grown in the forests. And that is how the walnut from the Kyrgyz Mountains appeared in Greece, and it has since been known as the "Greek nut" in many parts of the world.
Up to 1,500 tons of walnut is harvested each year in the Arslanbob valley, besides 5,000 tons of apples, pistachio and cherry plum. People are grateful for these generous gifts of nature and seek to preserve their source.
Already for many years the Arslanbob area (which means the King of Forests" in Kyrgyz), has been a forest zone protected by the state.
Suleyman - Too is a hill in the heart of the city, rising 175m from the floor of the valley of the Ak Buura River in which Osh is located to an altitude of 1175m. It is surrounded by the bustle of the busy city center surrounds.
The hill lies in an East-West orientation and is 1140m long and 560m wide (or 2000m long and 250m wide - depending on where you consider the foot of the hill to lie).
The hill has five "peaks" which give it a distinctive profile which is said by some to resemble the profile of a pregnant woman lying down. The peaks are called:
Suleyman-Too: Suleyman's Peak
Shor Too: Salt peak
Rushan Too: High Peak
Eer-Too: Sadle Peak (but the Kyrgyz call it Kelinchek nevestka or "sister in law")
Keklik uchar: where the keklik flies, or Keklik's house.
Made of limestone, the hill has many caves and grottos.
Suleyman-Too is sometimes referred to as Solomon's Throne - and the name refers to a legend that the city of Osh was established by the Biblical king. It is said that he visited the area and prayed at the spot where Babur, the first of the Mogul emperors of India who was born in Andijan not far away in the Ferghana valley, built a hurja - or "rest house" and has become a major destination for pilgrims. Some people believe that Solomon was actually buried here. Having founded the city, he is said to have spiritual beings then cut a narrow canyon and thus redirect the flow of the river Ak Buura through the city. When they reached the mountain he is said to have cried "Hosh!" ("Enough!"), and hence the city received its name. However, there is no actual evidence that Solomon ever visited the area.
The name Suleyman-Too may, in fact, be a fairly recent acquisition. Babur refers to the mountain as Bara Kukh. It is not clear what Bara Kukh means - although Kukh means "hill" in Persian and various suggestions have been made about possible interpretations of Bara ... referring to it's size and distance from the nearest hills. Babur doesn't mention anything about Solomon which seems an odd omission if it had been an already established tradition. It is known that these names were in use, however, in the late 19th century.
It has a long history as a holy site and some scholars think it was the site of an ancient Zoroastrian temple. There are suggestions that there was once a Fire Temple here (some indentations in the rock are suggested by some to be the marks made by the hands, knees and forehead made by Solomon whilst praying but some scholars claim that they are places where lamps were lit as part of Zoroastrian fire worship. One theory is that the most visited spot on the hill (Babur's House) was once the spot where the bodies of the dead were left for the dogs and birds to pick at, before the boners were then taken away to be buried - a typical Zoroastrian practice.
During the Soviet period, when religious practice was frowned upon, there was a tendency to deliberately neglect sites that might have religious significance. Since Independence , however, there has been a significant effort to improve the appearance of the mountain: trees have been planted, and a walkway was laid around the base of the mountain with pathways to the museum and the main holy site of Ok Ui.
Although there are a number of Holy Sites on Suleyman Too which are visited by pilgrims, the whole mountain is venerated as Holy. The two most commonly visited sites are Chake Tamar and Ok Ui. Most of the sites are caves - in fact all the caves on Suleyman Too are considered sacred. One of the large caves is virtually inaccessible - needing special equipment - and is relatively unexplored.
Bash Koyo Turgan Jer: A depression in a rock near to Ok Ui is known as the "Head Hole" because it thought that it gives relief from headaches if the head is placed in it.
Bel Orik or Bel Tash: a sloping rock with a small gully cut into it, over 2 meters long, located just behind Ok Ui. Pilgrims come to pray at the rock and slide down it. It is said that someone with an infirmity slides down it three times, then they will be healed - and there are several stories of such healing.
Chake Tamar and Beshik Tash: Chake Tamar is a small cave about 100 to the west of Ok Ui, by the side of the newly constructed walkway. In fact there are two entrances to the cave, separated from each other by about 6m. It is very small and to explore it, it is necessary to crawl around on all fours. Apparently there is supposed to be water dripping from the ceiling which has healing properties which is especially effective for healing eye problems. It is also visited by childless couples wishing to have children. Legend has it that Solomon, nearing his death asked the angel of death for time to pray one more time. He visited the various holy sites on the mountain and went to the cave to pray. The Angel of death came to fetch him, but as was in the cave could not find him - and he turned to stone in the cave and the drops of water which seep from the ceiling are said to be his tears. There is another version of the legend that simply says that he slept in the cave.
Chiltan Gor: A small cave high up on the mountain is known as Chltan Gor. According to legend there are forty entities of superhuman strength who live amongst humans without being seen, called chilten . This cave is known as "the place of 41 chilten"). There are three entrances to the cave and the passages from them meet a fourth, closed, passage. Near the entrances are some petroglyphs and stone implements found here suggest that it was used as a form of habitation.
Eagle's Cave: The largest and most frequented cave in the side of the mountain is known as the Eagle's Cave and is now the site of a large museum. The conversion was controversial as some of the arches were filled with cement and a glass and metal shell was constructed over the entrance of the cave. It is linked with another cave, Ishen Unkur, in which there are examples of petroghlyphs depicting the sun and various animals. Legend has it that a devout shoemaker of the prophet Suleiman lived here.
Hur Kyz: Near the museum is a small cave (6m tall, 10m wide and 12m deep) called Hur Kyz. In Kyrgyz, kyz means girl and the cave is associated with both women and purity. There was a tradition that if someone who is pure calls to Hur Kyz in the cave, then she will answer ...not just as an echo. However, because she saw unclean happenings in the cave, she has hidden herself but will return when piety returns to the population. There is another tradition concerning the name which suggests that it means Forty Girls - and links to the legend of the forty girls from which the Kyrgyz claim descent. Some people claim that is the home of beings - (close to "fairies" in Western cultural terms). One feature of the cave is an arch which is said by some to resemble "stone lace".
Kol Orik: a rock by the side of the path just below Bel Orik has a hole in it, at about knee level, just about the right size in which to fit an arm bent at the elbow, upto the armpit and it is claimed that putting the arm into it will cure a pain in the arm.
Kyl Kuprik: In some Islamic traditions there is a "bridge of hair" over which people must pass after death ... those who have not sinned (or whose sins are balanced by the prayers during their lifetime) pass over the bridge to heaven, whilst the other fall into the fires below. Kyl Kuprik is the Uzbek name for this bridge -and is ascribed to a narrow ledge on the southern face of Suleyman Too, about a hundred meters west of Ok Ui.
Ok Ui: In his memoires, Babur describes how he built a hurja (or "rest house") on the mountain - saying that although another hurja, built by a Sultan, was located higher, the one that he built had a better location - with the whole city and surrounding towns spread out beneath it. Ok Ui means "White House" in Uzbek and is the site of the hurja built by Babur in the thirteenth century. The present structure is not the original. The structure had two rooms but was destroyed by the Soviet authorities in 1963. It was claimed that the building was unsound and dangerous - and the mountain was cordoned off one evening, and explosions were heard during the night - and by the next morning the buiding was gone. The present, (one roomed structure), was built in 1989, with a reported 25000 volunteers passing the bricks up the mountain by hand. The materials they used were apparently those from the original building, which had been kept in storage.
Tepenukur: An almost vertical cave found near the summit of the hill, close to Chiltan Gor. Archaeologists have discovered many stone-age implements in the cave.
The largest mosque in Osh , (the Jauza Mosque), used to stand at the base of the mountain to the Southeast. It is mentioned by Babur in his memoirs. Having survived for over 700 years, it was destroyed in the Soviet period and the site changed hands several times ... at one being a dormitory for the Teacher Training Institute, another serving as part of a food processing plant, and as a school for photographers.
Near to the site of the mosque was a stream known as Jannat Orik, or "the stream of Paradise". The waters of the stream were held to have healing properties - especially for throat disorders. Although Babur mentions such a stream, he makes no mention of its healing qualities. Another sacred stream was the Jupas Orik - and until quite recently, water wheels were still being used on it to pump water in the channel.
Not far from Suleyman Too is the Rabat Abdullakhan Mosque. It was built by Abdullakhan II, the last of the Uzbek Shaibanid dynasty which ruled much of Central Asia in the latter half of the 16th century, as one of a series of mosques throughout his fiefdom. In the 1930's it served as a dormitory, but as had always been the city's main mosque it was returned to the faithful for prayer by the Soviet authorities in 1944. However, in 1963 it was turned into a museum - thus escaping demolition to make way for a sports stadium for the local Teacher Training Institute. Renovations started in 1988, and the mosque was returned to the faithful once more - and is now in active use and a center for orthodox Islam in the city.
Near to the South-eastern foot of the mountain is the mausoleum of Asaf ibn-Burkhia. According to tradition he was either the vizier of Solomon – or his uncle (on his mother's side). When Soviet archaeologists excavated the tomb in 1983, no bones were found, only stones marked like dominoes. In fact there was a common custom in ancient times of burying someone near to where they died, but burying objects associated with the person in their mausoleum - wherever it was located. In fact, the structure is described by scholars as being fairly recent in style, similar to structures built between the 18th and 20th centuries. As with Ok Ui, however, this does not preclude a second structure having been built on the site of an earlier one - and there is some evidence of this. Renovation work was undertaken on the mausoleum in the 1980's.
There are three cemeteries located on Suleyman Too: a large one at the base of the mountain on the southern side, and two smaller ones to the north.
Also, to the east of the foot of the mountain, archaeologists have excavated a medieval bathhouse, dating from somewhere between the 11th and 14th centuries.
Petroglyphs: The mountain is endowed with a number of early rock paintings. The earliest examples are circular in format - with spirals contained inside the circles. There is some suggestion that these are connected with sun worship. Others are clearly representations of animals - such as snakes. There also appears to be depictions of "houses" - square motifs divided into four parts.
THE UZGEN MINARET
The Uzgen Minaret is vertical and consists of three parts: the lower part is an octahedron - 5 m high; the middle part is in the form of a tapering cylinder; and the upper part is a lantern built in 1923-1924, with a cupola and arched windows. The Minaret is 27.5 m high. The diameter of the lower part is 8.5 m, and the upper part - 6.2 m. The Minaret was made of brick. One of the faces of the base has a lancet arched door leading to the spiral staircase, lit by two narrow windows. The cylindrical part is decorated with 11 ornamented belts - the narrow ones decorated with embossed patterns. Because the ornamentation are artistically and technically more diverse than those of the Burana Tower in the Chui oblast it is thought that the Uzgen minaret was built later than it’s northern relative.
Near the minaret are three mausoleums built in a line. These Mausoleums are called : Northern, Middle and Southern Mausoleum.
The Middle Mausoleum was the first to be built, in the early 11th century (1012 - 1013). According to some sources, it was built in honor of Karakhanid Nasr ibn Ali. It takes the form of a square, measuring 11.3 m by 11.4 m - the interior measures 8.5 m by 8.5 m – and is 13 m high. The Mausoleum is built of fired brick and it is richly decorated with figured brick work and carved ornaments in alabaster plaster. It is possible to count about 12 ornamental geometrical and vegetation motifs. There are columns in the corners and it has four doorways, three of which are actual doorways. The western facade is in the form of a portal with a door in a deep niche. The niche is topped with a lancet arch supported by columns. The niche is 3.8 m wide and about 7 m high, and is framed with decorative strips.
The Northern Mausoleum, was built in 1152/3. This date for the construction was determined in the 1920’s - from an analysis of the inscriptions found on the mausoleum. According to some sources, it is thought to have been built as the burial place of Klich-Burhan-Khan, with his father and mother, but according to the other data it is the burial of Ilchi-Mazi-Sultan. On the other hand - an inscription tells that the Mausoleum was built in honor of Jalal-ad-dinual-Husein. It is square in shape – measuring 10.2 m by 12.2 m, (the interior is 7.5 m by 7.5 m) and is built of brick. Inside there are two columns supporting the cornice on both sides of the portal, decorated with a rhombic pattern of brickwork. In addition to the decorative brickwork and alabaster carvings, there are also by terracotta tiles with various forms ornamentation and carved Arabic inscriptions.
The Southern Mausoleum, was built in 1186-1187,(the date being fixed from an analysis of the inscriptions), but it is not known to whom it is dedicated. It is much smaller than its neighbors – although it is also square in shape with the interior measuring 6.4 m by 6.4 m. The portal of Southern Mausoleum looks like that on the Northern Mausoleum, but the decor is different. Here different sizes of terracotta tiles were used – with inscriptions implemented in “kufi” and “nash” handwriting with arabesque “islimi”, ornaments of stars and crosses filled with winding rods of grapes.