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Gems on Mountains

While talking about greatest mountains of the world, there are some things that we cannot ignore in them.Those are the gems, pearls of mountains –  the alpine lakes! Why are they called as treasures? Pretty simple, because not every mountain is  “lucky” enough to have them!

Mountaians of Kyrgyzstan is also lucky enough to be the place, which has not one but many alpine lakes hidden in its glorious nature. The largest among them and the second by the size in the world lake is “Issyk Kul”.

Its literal meaning is “Warm Lake”, which is because the lake never gets frozen, despite the cold weather of the area. This is explained as the level of saltiness of issyk Kul is really very high.

The wonders of this lake are pretty huge in amount. There are many rivers that flow into this lake, however, none flow out of it. This fact was the reason why they also call Issyk Kul as an alpine sea…

Be Nomad’s Guest

I am guessing that the menu of Kyrgyz nomad’s food must have already tickled your appettite. But still it is a bit difficult to imagine what the food really looks like and how it may taste till you see how they cook it.

So, how about taking a look to the process of making those yummy dishes by the professional chef cook of Kyrgyzstan? In this video you will not only enjoy the process of cooking, but also the way how Kyrgyz nomads used to meet guests at their homes. Most of those traditions are still followed nowadays, so whenver you get a chance to visit Kyrgyz family, it will not be all new for you.

Nomad’s Cuisine

Nomads had to face really harsh natural conditions, yet were able to survive through all of them. It may be because of their perfect health and body structure. However, one of the main factors for their health is of course food that they ate.

Unlike the western cuisine, full of diets and veggies, Kyrgyz food is very strong. The main part of Kyrgyz cuisine is meat, a lot of it! It may sound very weird but they also use horse meat, which is also said to be really strong and nutritious. They use not only horse’s meat, but also its milk. There is a nice drink, called “Kymyz” made of that milk. They are fond of bread, noodles, variety of food made of flour.

The above said food and drinks help the person to stand freezing weather conditions. For the ones who never used to eat that much meat, it may be really heavy and may cause some uneasiness, but for nomads it is exactly what they need.

Nomad’s house


Since we started the topic about nomads, why not to go further into their lives. One of the main things, which may interest you, is probably the nomadic house, so let us be a guest there today!

Previously, we said that nomads used to survive even in the harsh conditions of mountains and some of them still do. What kind of house can that be, which kept them safe from freezing winters and blowing winds?

Nomads in Kyrgyzstan call their “tents” as “yurta”s. It is the round shaped tent, which is really easy to collect and set up again. This is the most important quality of a nomadic house, which can be set in variety of places every other month. Although the house seems pretty small without separate rooms, the order of things in there may simply amaze you!

First of all, the yurta is divided into several zones: a part for the family’s man, then for a woman and children, if there are any. The center of yurta can be called a “kitchen”; that is where families have meals together. They can even cook at that place and no need to worry about fire: the top of yurta has “Tunduk” – a round opening, through which light comes inside and the smoke goes out.

Nomads nowadays

In one of these beautiful but extremely cold winter days I was sitting on my sofa, all cuddled up with warm blanket and thinking what are those, who have no homes and warm place to relax like I have, doing now? Then the thoughts went back to history and the lifestyle of people before all this progress that we have now…

I have heard that there are still people, for whom it is a usual thing to go through harsh winters. They are absolutely not homeless people, neither some kind of wild tribes. Those people still live in the regions of Kyrgyzstan and called nomads…

Kyrgyz nation used to live the nomadic lifestyle at the very beginning and by the time, it changed a lot. There is almost no difference between the lifestyles of modern Kyrgyz and westerners. However, some of them still cannot get used to new things, or just do not want to let go off the traditions. Those nomads now live around Song-Kul, at the height of almost 3000 meters above the sea level! Click here to find out more about the lake.

That beautiful lake and the territory around it is just perfect for their cattle to herd in summer. They could have probably moved to the normal houses by this time, if there was no such great love for the ancient culture and way of life…

Life on Pamirs

I guess there is no one who has not heard about Pamir mountains. The mountain range lies in several countries, including China, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Seeing the majestic peaks touching the sky, the one does not even wonder that there may be the whole community living there.

For us, it is impossible to imagine living with almost no conditions AND up on the roof of the world. Not only living there, but also staying for a couple weeks. So, it is better to see with own eyes how they actually survive among those tough conditions. This video shows Kyrgyz people living on Pamirs and their style of life.

“Seven Bulls” Hill


Please, ask yourself a question, what did you like the most? The way those unique hills look or the legends that describe them? Probably, most of you would choose the legends, since without them, it would be hard to understand what they actually look like and what kind of meaning they carry. For example, the hills you are now seeing on the page hardly look like bulls! But the legends say so and this is what attracts the tourists!

The hills are called “Jeti Oguz” or “Seven Bulls” in Kyrgyz. They are located just adjacent to the “Broken heart” that we talked about before. There is an interesting explanation of why they call it as Seven Bulls among Kyrgyz people:

Once upon a time, there were two kings, who just hated each other. The king A once decided to take a revenge for king B’s offence. He stole the enemy’s wife and wanted to return her dead to her husband. So there was a big ceremony organized with seven bulls and the poor woman prepared for “sacrifice”. At the moment the king stabbed her with knife, there started the fountain of blood and took away everything together with bulls down to the valley. They say that bulls turned into hills and the color of blood still remains there.

Elephant Trunk Hill

Elephant-Trunk-Hill

After the hill of Broken Heart, curiosity got me and I started looking for more mounts of this type. I discovered that Kyrgyzstan is not the only country with unusual shaped mountains after all. I found that Chinese people can be even more creative in telling the legends about interesting sights. So, welcome to Chinese land of legends – Gui Lin!

Gui Lin is one of the most beautiful places, attracting people all over the world with its stunning nature. If you take a boat trip on the river, the guide can tell an interesting legend about every single hill! Here is one of them about the symbol hill of Gui Lin – Elephant trunk hill:

On the top of Elephant Trunk Hill there is a pagoda named Puxian Pagoda. It looks like the hilt of a sword sticking out of the back of the elephant. In the ancient past, the Emperor of Heaven sent his troops to Earth from the back of the elephant. The elephant worked so hard, that it became seriously ill. The local farmers of Earth nursed it back to health. The elephant being extremely grateful, decided to desert the emperor and stay on earth to help the farmers plow their fields during a time of famine. The Emperor of Heaven was so angry, that he thrust his sword into the elephant’s back and turned the elephant into the rocky hill. The pagoda erected on top of the hill stands for the hilt of the sword. Now this poor elephant stays with the friendly people of Guilin, welcoming guests from all over the world to this beautiful city.

Broken Heart

Kyrgyzstan-Broken-Heart

There are such mountains in the world, which give an opportunity to hike, to ski and go snowboarding. However, some are visited for something else. They are the small hills or peaks that have much bigger history and meaning than their sizes. They take people to wonderful adventures back to the past, deep into breathtaking legends.

Kyrgyzstan’s unusual gorge in Issyk Kul region is loved for its beauty and mysterious shapes. One of the most popular figures look like a human’s heart, that is broken into two pieces and even the color is red. This is the reason why it took its name “Broken Heart”. The legends say that this is the broken heart of a lover, a beautiful girl, who fell apart with her love. This is how it happened:

At those places lived that pretty girl, like a sunshine and a boy with whom they shared pure love to each other. One day, cruel king saw and wanted to own her. He ordered his people to bring the girl to him. Finding out about this tragedy, the boy chased after them, but was killed by the troops. The girl couldn’t bear her love falling down the hill dead and passed immediately from a broken heart…

Solomon in Kyrgyzstan!

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Everyone, who visits Osh, can’t escape the view of a mountain in the center of the city, just like Eiffel tower in Paris. Sulaiman-Too meaning Solomon’s Mountain is a 1000 metres high rocky spur of Alay mountain range. The mount was revered as a sacred mountain and a major place of pilgrimage in the Central Asia for Muslims as well as pre-Muslims. Its five peaks and slopes contain numerous ancient places of worship and caves with petroglyphs as well as two largely reconstructed 16th century mosques. For many Muslims of the region it is the most sacred place after Holy cities of Makkah, Medinah and Jerusalem.

In June 2009 it became the first site in Kyrgyzstan to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to its report “The site is believed to represent the most complete example of a sacred mountain anywhere in Central Asia, worshiped over several centuries.”

Osh a city located at the crossroads of several branches of silk caravan routes is reportedly older than Rome, and a number of legends say that Alexander The Great had passed through it on his way to India. Another legend says that King Solomon had slept on the mount. Archaeologists have found artifacts dating back to about the fifth century B.C. In any case Mughal Emperor Babur prior to his victory in India, was crowned King of the Ferghana Valley and had stayed here and one of the mosques at the mountain top was constructed by him in 1510.