Travel Journal

Sayram and Turkistan (Kazakhstan)

(Tuesday 15 April 2008) by Lynda
After all the visa hassle it was time to explore the remainders of the Silk Road.
Yasaui Mausoleum
Yasaui Mausoleum
Sayram just outside of Shymkent was a silk road stop and is one of the oldest settlements in Kazakhstan, dating back possibly 3000 years. Kozha Akhmed Yasaui (the revered Sufi teacher and mystical poet and very famous in Kazakhstan) was born here. Sayram is an interesting little town with a population of only 40,000 people and 1 set of traffic lights and I've never seen soo many old Lada's in all colors of the rainbow. The small town is dotted with mausoleums of famous people and it's a nice change to see mausoleums with domes and muslim architecture after all the chinese temples i've seen in the last couple of months.

I also visited the Yasaui Mausoleum in Turkistan, Kazakhstan's greatest historical monument. The mausoleum of the first great Turkic Muslim holy man (Kozha Akhmed Yasaui) was built by Timur in the late 14th century. The mausoleum is indeed enormous but unfortunately restoration was in process when we visited it so the main dome was covered. The tiling on the outside of the building is very beautiful with blue, turquoise and white tiles and beautiful patterns. Timur died
Mirali Bobo Mausoleum in Sayram
Mirali Bobo Mausoleum in Sayram
before the mausoleum was completed and the main facade was left unfinished, with scaffolding poles still protruding from the brickwork. Turkistan itself is not really interesting, just another dusty town in the middle of nowhere.

Kazakhstan reminds me a lot of Mongolia, also an enormous country with some cities and in-between just lots of nothing. The landscape in Kazakhstan is more arid and less green than Mongolia and to be honest, the people in Mongolia are far more open and friendly than the Kazak. But maybe that's the mark of many years of Russian domination.

Spring has arrived in Kazakhstan and the nature reserves in this area are promoted as the home of the tulip and the brochures promise that the alpine meadows will be dotted with the wild bright-red Greig's tulip. So this dutch girl is going to check it out.......tulips in Kazakhstan????


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