Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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Arslan Bob

In the Djalalabad region of Southern Kyrgyzstan lie the walnut groves of Arslan Bob – sometimes referred to as “The Royal Woods of Kyrgyzstan”. 
In Russian, walnuts are known as “Gretski”, (or “Greek”), nuts because Alexander the Great sent plants back to Greece from his campaign in Central Asia and it was from there that were introduced to Russia.  It is not clear how the trees arrived here as it is thought they originated in Malaysia.  It is known that nuts from the area were exported along the Silk Road in its heyday.
The trees, which can live to 1000 years, with their dome shaped crowns atop two meter thick trunks, can reach a height of 30 meters and are found growing wild on mountain slopes and along river banks at an altitude of between 1000 and 1800 meters above Sea Level.  The village, itself, lies at 1700 m. asl.
As well as the nuts, which are rich in nutrients, walnut wood is a valuable commodity and is used in the manufacture of furniture.  Recent deforestation (for the timber, despite the fact that the forests are protected by law) has been very controversial.
Although Arslan Bob is particularly well known for its walnut forest, in fact walnuts grow throughout this part of the country.  Walnut trees may be predominant in the region, but they are not the only type of tree to found in the neighbourhood.  The whole region is like an orchard and boasts much different variety of fruits.  In season, it is also possible to see examples of various species of wild tulips. 
The village of Arslan Bob is said to be named after an 11th century hero who met his death nearby – betrayed by his wife to his enemies.  His footprints, handprints and bloodstains are said to be still visible at the spot.
There is another account, which tells of a modest and earnest, hardworking man charged by the prophet Muhammed with finding a beautiful and comfortable place – a paradise on earth.  He travelled through many lands until he found a picturesque valley with a foaming mountain river –but which lacks trees.  Inspired by his reports, the prophet sent him a bag of seeds of many different types of fruit tree – including, of course, the walnut tree.  The hero climbed to the top of a mountain and spread the seeds over the valley transforming it into a “garden” which he tended for many years.  
The village has a population of about 15,000 and stretches a long way up the valley, nestling on the hillsides, giving many of the houses spectacular views.  Within easy walking distance of the village centre is a small waterfall (about 23 meters tall) and in the cliff opposite is a small cave, or grotto – known as the “Cave of Forty Angels”, where a holy woman is said to have lived and received petitioners.  A little further off is a much larger waterfall, (actually it is split into two sections of 60 meters and 80 meters), and “Holy Lake”.  For those with time in the area, a day trip can be organized (walking or horse riding) taking in the main sites.  
There is a “tour basa”, (or resort), here dating from Soviet times when the village was a popular centre for various activities.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Travel guide#10/2008

Discovery Kyrgyzstan Travel guide #10/2008

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