Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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Mystery Of Genghiz Khan treasure

Mystery Of Genghiz Khan treasureAt the extreme Eastern end is the town of Tup. When the renowned Russian explorer Semyenov ("Tianshansky") first visited the region, he found near here at the San Tash pass a large barrow of smooth stones. Legend has it that it was constructed by the army of Timur. They found their way into the basin and he gave an order that every soldier was to pick up a stone from the shore of the lake and take it to the pass ... when the campaign was over they would return it to the shore. Very few of the soldiers survived and so the army effectively constructed its own memorial.

One find that has so far eluded archaeologists is the grave of Genghiz Khan. There is a legend that he decreed that when he died his burial place should be kept a secret. So a party of 40 attendents took his body to a secret location, buried him (along with a treasure of untold riches), and were then killed by their 40 guards, who in turn committed suicide - thus ensuring the Khan's wishes were fulfilled. The site has never been found, and many Kyrgyz believe that it was somewhere around Lake Issyk Kul. The theory was taken seriously enough for the Soviet government to stage an expedition to search for the grave in the 1970's. There has, however, been much interest in a recent discovery of a mass grave in Mongolia, that some archaeologists think might be it - which will come as a surprise and disappointment to the Kyrgyz "believers", if it can be proved.

In 2003 a book was published about the Cultural and Historical Monuments in the Issyk Kul region. As it was produced with financial Support from GTZ -The German Technical Aid Agency - it may not be surprising that was produced in Russian and German. An English version is planned, but it is not clear when it will be published. Also, it is hoped to produce similar guides for other regions of Kyrgyzstan - but, again, it is not clear when this may happen. The book was the result of surveys carried out by experts and contains an overall summary, some photographs, recommendations about the preservation of the monuments and details of some 184 examples.

Sometimes, Kyrgyzstan is known as the Switzerland of Central Asia -Tianshansky Semyenov may have been the first to make the comparison - he wrote about lake Issyk Kul: "The dark, blue surface of Issyk-Kul is as blue as the surface of Geneva Lake, but the large size of Issyk-Kul makes it grandiose, which can not be said of Geneva Lake. The Issyk-Kul water beautifully reflects snow-covered Tien-Shan peaks against the background of the dark blue, bright, cloudless Central Asian sky.

" During the Soviet period the lake was used by the Navy to test torpedoes built in Tashkent - and there are still "jokes" about the Kyrgyz Navy.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #7

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