What to See in Turkestan (Kazakhstan)
According to Barblejewelry.com, Turkestan is located in the South Kazakhstan region, 180 km northwest of the administrative center – Shymkent.
The first settlement on the site of the modern city arose at the beginning of the 6th century AD. In the 12th century, the most famous Sufi poet and mystic, the great teacher of the Turkic peoples, Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, preached here. In the 14th century, the troops of the conqueror Tamerlane came here, who, in order to win the trust of the steppe nomads, renamed this city Yassy in honor of Khoja Ahmed Yassavi. Later Iasi received a new name – Turkestan. In the 16th century , Turkestanwas chosen as the capital of the Kazakh Khanate, and stayed there until the 19th century.
The main attraction of Turkestan is the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi erected at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. The mausoleum was built by order of Emir Timur (the great commander Tamerlane) on the grave of the most revered Sufi among the Turkic peoples, who preached Islam. After the construction of the mausoleum Turkestan turned into the spiritual and religious center of all Central Asia, and even today it is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage. The mausoleum is a majestic building 44 meters high. The diameter of the main dome is 22 meters. The mausoleum has 30 rooms. The central hall served as the residence of the Kazakh khans, now a museum has been opened here, which contains the world’s largest water bowl – Tai Kazan. For the Turks at all times, a cauldron has been a symbol of hospitality. The Turkestan cauldron has no equal, its diameter is 2.45 m, and its weight is two tons. The mausoleum complex, in addition to the main building, includes the mausoleum of Tamerlane’s granddaughter – Rabiya-Sultan Begim, an underground house for reflection Kumshik-ata and a theological school.
Also in Turkestan there are the tombs of the Kazakh khans and the mausoleum of the great Kazakh judge, the founder of the first summary of Kazakh laws – Kazybek bi.
60 km south of Turkestan is the historical and cultural reserve Otrar oasis. In the 9th-12th centuries, one of the trade cities of the Great Silk Road, Otrar, was located here. In the 14th century, the mausoleum of the revered Sufi, teacher Khoja Ahmed Yassavi – Arystan-baba was erected in Otrar. The mausoleum is considered the second most important holy place in Kazakhstan after the Turkestan mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.
To the east of Turkestan in the center of the South Kazakhstan region is the Karatau State Nature Reserve. It occupies the central part of the Karatau Range, which is an offshoot of the Tien Shan Mountains. The reserve from the east borders on the deserts of Moyunkum, Kyzylkum and Betpak-Dala. On the territory of the reserve there are 3 species of mammals that are listed in the Red Book: Karatau argali, Indian porcupine and stone marten, as well as 12 species of Red Book birds: white stork, black stork, short-toed eagle, pygmy eagle, steppe eagle, golden eagle, bearded vulture, vulture, saker falcon, belladonna, jack and eagle owl.
Uralsk, West Kazakhstan region (Kazakhstan)
Uralsk is located in the northwestern part of Kazakhstan near the border with Russia. It is the administrative center of the West Kazakhstan region. The city was founded on the banks of the Ural River in 1613 as a permanent Cossack settlement. In those days, the Ural River was called Yaik, so the settlement built here was called Yaitsky. During the reign of Catherine II, the Yaitsky town became known as the center of the People’s Uprising, led by Yemelyan Pugachev. After the suppression of the uprising, Catherine II ordered the city to be renamed Uralsk. Throughout its history, Uralsk has been the capital of the Ural Cossacks.
Part of the Ural River south of Uralsk up to the northern coast of the Caspian Sea, on which the city of Atyrau is located, is a protected area.
Lake Shalkar is located 125 km southeast of Uralsk, which is known for its brackish sodium chloride water, which has healing properties. In summer, you can relax on the shores of the lake. The length of the lake is 18 km, the width is 15 km, the area of the water surface of the lake is 240 sq. km.
Ekibastuz, Pavlodar region (Kazakhstan)
Ekibastuz is located in the Pavlodar region in the northeastern part of Kazakhstan. The city was formed near one of the largest Kazakh coal deposits in 1898. Bayanaul State National Natural Park is located 100 km south of Ekibastuz.. The park was founded in 1985 in the Bayanul mountains and became the country’s first national park. There are 460 species of vegetation, 40 species of animals and about 50 species of birds. Of the animals, the most valuable is the rare mountain sheep – argali, listed in the Red Book. On the territory of the Bayanul National Park, you can see many bizarre rocks formed as a result of wind and water erosion. Among them, silhouettes of human heads are distinguished, among which is the profile of A.S. Pushkin, as well as silhouettes of various animals. In addition, there are three large freshwater lakes in the park – Sabyndykol, Dzhasybai and Toraigyr. On the shores of the lakes in the summer, a lot of vacationers accumulate. Lake Jabysay with crystal clear water is especially popular.