Tash Rabat

Tash Rabat

 

Location: At Bashy district, Naryn Province Map

The ancient caravanserai Tash-Rabat is the most striking and unique monument to the history of Kyrgyzstan. It is located at an altitude of over 3500 m above sea level, in a picturesque place surrounded by the mountains of the At-Bashy range.

According to one version, Tash-Rabat was originally built in the 10th-11th centuries. and served as a monastery. Four centuries later, during the heyday of trade on the Great Silk Road, Tash-Rabat lost its cult significance and became a caravanserai, that is, an inn for numerous foreign traders leading their caravans along the Silk Road. It was from here that caravans went to Kashgar and the Fergana Valley.

Tash-Rabat was built on an artificial site, on a mountain, and is a rectangular building with sides clearly facing the 4 cardinal directions. The front side with the portal faces east. Along the entire outer side there are stone benches around the gate-door supports. In the large corridor and in the hall the floor is laid with flat stone; in the remaining rooms and corridors the floor is not covered with anything.

Tash Rabat

Position

Tash Rabat is located in the southern part of the Atbashy mountain range (part of the Tian Shan), the "Heavenly Mountains", at about 3105 m altitude about 15 km south and east of the A365 road, which follows the course of a branch of the Silk Road from the about 80 km away, the regional capital Naryn leads to the 3752 m high Torugart Pass on the Kyrgyz-Chinese border, in a side valley through which the mountain river Tash Rabat, a tributary of the Karakojun, flows. It can be reached via a dirt track that follows the valley. With a bit of luck you can see yaks grazing on the pastures in the valley.

About 20 km to the south, on the other side of a high mountain range, is the mountain lake Chatyrkul.

Tash Rabat

The construction

The one-storey, fortress-like building made of quarry stone was partly built into the flat mountain slope here, and there is said to have been one or more escape tunnels on the side of the slope. Inside, the building is divided into several rooms and chambers, some of which are connected to one another. They are grouped around a central corridor and an adjoining former prayer room covered by a dome. In the center of the valley side of the rectangular complex, the only entrance is through a pointed arched portal in a massive projecting gateway towering over the rest of the complex (except for the dome). At both corners of the valley side there are round towers that only slightly surmount the main building. The flat roof is surrounded by a nearly chest-high wall.

Tash Rabat

History of Tash Rabat

It is said that the caravanserai was built on the site or on the basis of a former Nestorian monastery built in the 9th or 10th century AD, when Christian traders and their religion also spread along the Silk Road to the Uyghurs in present-day Xinjiang , but was then almost completely destroyed under Timur Lenk (Tamerlane) and the Timurids in Central Asia in the 14th century. According to another version, it was originally a Buddhist monastery.

Because of its proximity to a branch of the Silk Road, the site was then used as a caravanserai after the monastery fell. It was a stop and shelter from snowstorms and bandits for caravans and travelers between Kashgar in Xinjiang on the one hand and Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan and the Ferghana Valley on the other.

Today Tash Rabat, completely renovated in 1984, is a tourist attraction. In the immediate vicinity you can stay overnight in one of the neighboring yurt camps.

 

Architecture

The caravan shed is a building built from stones and mud. Its front side (fa├žade) faces the east and is built in a square shape. The height of the building is about 20 m, it consists of 31 rooms with a rectangular dome. Rooms are divided into three groups:
corridor;
rooms on both sides of the corridor;
hall and surrounding rooms.

Go through the first door in the corridor to the three guard houses. The eastern corners of the wall are supported by towers. The main hall of the building is entered through a long corridor. There are rooms on both sides of the corridor. The hall is located on the west side of the building, in the middle (length 9.32 m, width 8.35 m), connected with rooms and small halls. Its roof is covered with a kumpa (dome) with a diameter of 9.30 m. The rooms of the building and the kumpa are plastered with alabaster and decorated with geometric patterns. The rooms are lit by skylights. The roofs of the rooms are covered in a hemispherical shape like an arch.