Tash-Rabat: Honoring Silk Road Heritage

Exploring the Area

Tash-Rabat is a caravanserai, a type of inn along the ancient Silk Road, in the At-Bashy district of the Naryn region in Kyrgyzstan. The facility is located on the bank of the winding Tash-Rabat River, a tributary of the Kara-Koyun River, at an altitude of more than 3,500 meters above sea level.

Tash-Rabat was built in the 15th century on the site of a more ancient monastery from the 9th to 10th centuries. There are two versions of its foundation: the first is that the fortress was founded by a khan who wanted to protect trade caravans from robbers and at the same time contribute to the development of the country. The second foundation was created by a local rich man, but the construction of this structure was not completed for unknown reasons.

As Islam spread in Central Asia, the monastery began to decline. However, the proximity to the Silk Road saw the monastery converted into a caravanserai.

It is believed that Tash-Rabat was a key point when crossing the Tien Shan, as it not only provided shelter for merchants but also served as a fortification against robbers. Through Tash-Rabat, trade caravans were sent to the cities of the Fergana Valley.

Legends: There are several legends about this area. Here is one of them.

In ancient times, there lived a powerful khan who had two sons. Despite their difference in years, both sons pleased their father’s heart, and the old man did not know whom he preferred most.

One day, the khan called the eldest son to him and said, “I am already old, and the day is not far when the power in the khanate will pass to you. But so that I can die in peace, show me, my son, what are you capable of.”

Some time passed, and the eldest son came to his father. “Our khanate is large and rich,” he began, “but it could have been even richer.”

The khan looked surprised at his son, said nothing, and prepared to listen further.

“Yes, even richer,” repeated the son. I would send caravans of our goods to foreign lands and then invite merchants to come to us. I would build a caravanserai in which everyone would find shelter and hospitality.”

Soon, the old khan died. The eldest son gave all the honors to the deceased and went with a caravan to foreign lands, and when he returned, he began to prepare for a meeting with foreign merchants.

He decided to build a caravanserai, which stood for a thousand years. He gathered the most famous masters from all over his country, and the work began. Over many years, a stone caravanserai was built. Anyone who saw it was struck by its beauty and grandeur. The width of the walls was no less than any fortress, the rooms were spacious, and the main domed hall had three vaulted niches.

The fame of Tash-Rabat—the name of the caravanserai—spread throughout the land, and many merchants turned off other roads in order to enjoy the hospitality of Tash-Rabat.

Every year, the khan and his subjects grew richer, but when he died, his younger brother became khan.

The younger brother had long dreamed of another glory. Having collected a detachment of soldiers, he attacked peaceful caravans, robbed them, and gathered the loot in the caravanserai.

Soon the neighboring khans went to war with him.

The khan and his warriors settled in the caravanserai, but the thick stone walls did not help him. Stronger was his opponent. Warriors were killed, the khan himself was killed, and the ruins of Tash-Rabat were left alone, like a silent reproach to the robber-khan.

Where to Stay

People received accommodation services in Tash-Rabat during the era of the Silk Road, and people do the same today because of the development of tourism along the Silk Road. There are many yurt camps in different segments, and the yurt camps near Tash-Rabat are especially popular. Yurts provide B&B service and full board meals.

What to See and Do

Tash-Rabat, which means “stone yard,” offers spectacular views and is set in an impressive landscape similar to Tibet.

In addition to exploring the structure of Tash-Rabat, you can get acquainted with the nomadic lifestyle of the locals. The local jailooes are generally overcrowded with livestock, including yaks, cows, horses, and sheep.

Two-day horseback riding tours and trekking tours can also be taken to Tash-Rabat from Chatyr Kol Lake.

How to Get Around

From Bishkek, Tash-Rabat can be reached by regular transport in about 6 hours. The road is in excellent condition, but there is no regular public transportation from cities or towns to this tourist complex. However, you can get to Naryn by public transport, and then organize transport through regional tour agencies or private taxi services. You can also organize express transport from Bishkek through a tour company.


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