Tag Archives: Kyrgystan

Traces of Christianity along the Silk Road

Burana Tower is an 11th century minaret that was restored by the Soviets in 1950s.

I climbed up

And then down.

Kyrgy001736There is very little remaining of the ancient citadel founded by the Sogdians. However the site yielded a treasure of Scythian artifacts. What caught my attention were 11th century Christian carvings and crosses. Most people are unaware of the vigorous Christian missionary expansion along the Silk Road.

On the grounds of the tower the Scythians installed 6th- to 10th-century balbals that is Turkic totem-like stone markers.

This balbal is holding a teacup.

The Krygyz migrated in the 10th to 15th century from Siberia and arrived by way of Lake Issyk Kul. It was also the center of the Scythian civilisation.

The lake was also used by the Soviets for the testing of high-precision torpedoes. This military complex was shut down in 1991 and the lake was converted into a resort area.

Near the town is a large field of glacier boulders with pictures scratched into them.

Some of these petroglyphs date from the later Bronze age, about 1500 BC.

But most are from 8th century BC to 1st century AD therefore predate the arrival of the Kyrgyz people.

The local museum houses a small collection of archeological finds of local Scythian gold jewelry

And gravestones.

Kyrgy005300 The next day was devoted to hiking in the Grigorevskoe Gorge with its beautiful landscape.

In the valley were trees with small ribbons tied around the branches. Muslims tie small ribbons and make wishes as they do so with the hope that their wish comes true.

The shepherds bring their animals to graze in the summer months to graze then return to the villages with their flocks in the winter

The valley is well travelled.

This long hike was very quiet and restful and gave me time to reflect on all that I have experienced in Central Asia.

Along the road were many Muslim cemeteries. My guide said they were places where travellers and pilgrims often took refuge.

Since the graves offered shelter the Muslim pilgrim would prayer for the soul of the deceased and as the guide said the prayers would help purify the soul of the deceased.

Bishkek, Kyrgystan

Bishkek is located where the steppe meets the foothills of the snow-capped Tien Shan mountains.

Bishkek was founded in the 19th century after the Kokand conquerors established a citadel in order to protect the caravans that would pass through to Kashgar in China. The city has many public parks and is truly a green city. In the game between the Russian and British empires in the 19th century for hegemony over Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan came under the hegemony of imperial Russia so then at the time of the Bolshevik revolution it came under Soviet influence. The tour of the city is a tour of Soviet architecture. For example this monument to the victims of World War Two.

The Opera House

The Opera House

This is a monument to those slain in the first World War.


The first soviet movie theater

235557 This monument is dedicated to the victims of the revolution several years ago against government corruption. The guide pointed out that the white stone symbolizes good and the people pushing away the evil symbolized by the black stone.

Those who were slain in the square are memorialized on these plaques.

Kyrgy010807We then proceeded to drive to Ala Archa which is an accessible gorge south of Bishkek. The views are spectacular.

The guide pointed this plant out which is popular with the locals who dry it then burn it around their cars and houses to ward off evil spirits.


There is a small museum of stuffed animals and this is called the Marco Polo mountain goat.

I have included a few photos so you can appreciate the beauty of the area.
Kyrgy013451Kyrgy021159And of course the fields of poppies and red tulips are beginning to blossom.

In the evening we were given a concert of local music.

Crossing into Kyrgystan

This morning we drove through the valley to cross the border into Kyrgystan whose landscape is soaring snow-covered peaks and lush green valleys. The nomadic people who settled here were from Siberia. And much earlier the Scythians inhabited the territory from 6th century BC to 5th century AD.

When I arrived in Osh, Kyrgystan, I climbed the steps up a high mountain called Solomon’s Throne. This is a pilgrimage place for Muslims because according to tradition Mohammed prayed here.

Muslim pilgrims

In the late 14th century, Babur, king of Fergana built a little mosque there. This was a steep 40-minute climb which is well worth it for the views.

Russian Orthodox Church


We then went to the bazaar which is very Asian. My guide joked and called it China Market because all the goods with the exception of food and local textiles are manufactured in China. A long time was spent not so much to survey the merchandise but rather to enjoy the faces of some of the many vendors who seemed so happy we were there.Kyrgy040846