Today we left Bishkek and began our drive out to Lake Issyk-kul. Along the way, we made a stop at Burana Tower. The tower is an 11th Century minaret that was once 45 meters high and is now only 24.6 meters tall due to an earthquake that happened in the 15th century. Minarets are built next to Mosques as a tall tower that is used to call the people to prayer. The area now is an open air museum site and small archeological museum with items dating from the 6th-10th centuries. Unfortunately, the museum is small as during Soviet Union control many artifacts throughout all of these countries were removed and taken back to Russia.
There are very steep steps to get to the top of the tower. It was dark and tricky to climb to the upper part of Burana Tower, but amazing to see the view and think about the people who once lived there being called to prayer. There once was a large city here during the Silk Road times.
There is a traditional fable story from Burana Tower about a King and his daughter. She was cursed at birth by a witch that she would die before her eighteenth birthday. The King did not want this to happen, so he imprisoned her in the tower to keep her safe. As she grew up, she also became very beautiful. On her eighteenth birthday, her father came to her and brought her a plate of grapes to celebrate her being alive. However, as she was taking the fruit a spider fell off the plate, bit her, and she died. The story was one of the first of many I was told over in Central Asia. I will say that most of the stories I heard did not have happy endings. I would have had her fall asleep, and a prince come and wake her up with a kiss, but I think that story has already been taken. So I guess we will stick with some of the sad stories that the locals believe teach a lesson.
Near the tower are many gravestones from the nomadic Turk warriors called Balbals dating from the 6th century. They were found all over in Kyrgyzstan and moved this location to be together. It was incredible to walk through and see the different types of carvings that are still visible today.
We spent a couple of hours walking all around the area. Farmers were working the land surrounding the Tower. Such a peaceful and beautiful place and felt very much like stepping back in time.
After we were done exploring the area, we continued driving through the Kyrgyzstan countryside. Next stop is Lake Issyk-kul.