This area was a core of popularizing Islamic Sufism among Turkic-speaking world despite the ongoing onslaught of the Mongol invasion. When erecting architectural structures, the rulers were often guided by both religious beliefs and political goals.
Arystan Bab Mausoleum
The mausoleum is the tomb of Arystanbab - the master of the poet Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. An interesting legend is associated with the construction of the building, according to which Amir Timur originally erected a mausoleum for the apprentice of Arystanbab, but the building was strangely destroyed by an earthquake. Then Amir Timur had a dream that it was immediately necessary to build a mausoleum for the master, and then for the apprentice. And the military leader did it. Since then, it is customary to visit holy places in a certain order, starting with the mausoleum of Arystan-Bab.
Nearby the mausoleum you can find a well with healing and salty water. Pilgrims gather that liquid in bottles and take it with them. Since 1982, the building has been protected by the state.
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi
At the age of 63, a philosopher, poet and Sufi mystic Khoja Ahmed Yasawi decided to withdraw into an underground room not to see the sunlight longer than his mentor, the prophet Mohammed, who died at this age. He died there one year later, in 1167. The greatest sightseeing spot of Turkestan was built by Amir Timur at the burial place of the preacher Khoja Ahmed Yasaw 223 years after his death. It includes 8 sections, and the ceiling height in the central hall reaches 44 meters.
Inside is a huge cauldron (Tay Kazan) made of 7 metals weighing 2 tons and with a capacity of 3000 l, filled in ancient times with holy water to dispense to believers after Friday prayers. Walking around the mausoleum, you can explore the underground mosque, baths, tomb, as well as the Great Fortress Wall. You can also find gift a number of gift shops and bazaar located nearby.
Khilvet Auliye-Kumchik ata
The attraction is located near the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi. Khilvet treats cult constructions of Sufi rituals. According to legend, that was a mosque where Yasawi went down to live the rest of his life in prayer. This is a large canopy that is installed on the columns and covers the area. Through the roof hatches, light enters the room.
In the 1940s, an oil factory was built in Turkestan and a part of the bricks was taken from the mosque. But in 1980, the premises were restored. The decoration of the rooms has not survived to our days, but on the walls there are paintings and carvings. The mosque does not function as intended, a museum was made of it, so anyone can visit and evaluate the buildings.
Mausoleum of Gaukhar Ana
A tomb was also erected for the daughter of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi - Gaukhar. A woman became a great person thanks to the gift of healing. Gaukhar always treated people, but could not have children. Legend has it that a healer was buried at the site of the murder of her brother, who was collecting water from a well. Today, women come to the sacred well in the hope of being healed and having children. They pour water over their bodies and pray to Gaukhar.
People who have visited this sacred place claim that the healer really helps women to gain fertility. The cradle of Gaukhar Ana is located on a high hill and has mystical power.
Mausoleum of Ukash-Ata
The Mausoleum of Ukash-Ata is located 55 kilometers from Turkestan. Legend has it that the military leader and prophet Mohammed’s protector - Ukash - was a mighty warrior, whose height reached 12 meters. No one could defeat the giant, not a single weapon took him. Enemies caught up the warrior at the morning prayers and chopped off the head, which rolled into the well. The place where the hero’s blood flowed was covered by comrades with a clay sarcophagus. The sarcophagus can be seen inside the mausoleum. Nearby is the sacred well where the Ukash’s head fell. Here pilgrims ask for prosperity and ask for cleansing from sins.
The well is a narrow stone tunnel 25 meters deep. The crevice in the rock is so winding that an ordinary bucket hardly passes into the hole. Everyone can throw a bucket, but not everyone succeeds in getting water.
It is believed that a sinless person with good intentions scoops a full bucket of water. Some take out half, quarter or pull out a completely empty, twisted bucket. In the latter case, it is worth visiting the holy place again. If stones turned out to be together with water, this is a favorable sign of fate. The water in the well is healing and the composition is identical to the water from Mecca. Therefore, everyone should at least once visit a holy place.
The historic sanctuary is located 57 kilometers from Turkestan. For many years, archaeologists have been excavating the ancient settlement, which was part of the Great Silk Road. The Otrar oasis is located near the Syr Darya and Arys rivers, so it served as the intersection of many nomad tribes.
The heyday of the oasis occurred in the I-XIII centuries BC. e. The city is striking in its scope, which is reflected in majestic palaces, mosques and neighborhoods. Already at that time in every house there was a sewer and hygiene rooms. Over the years, the drought and frequent attacks by the Dzungars forced civillians to leave the city. Today, on the territory of the Otrar oasis the work on organizing cultural heritage is in full swing. The infrastructure aims to influence the attraction of tourists and the revival of historical monuments.
How to get to Turkestan
Turkestan is located 180 km from Shymkent, one of the three cities of Kazakhstan, which has the status of republican significance. A bus or a cab ride from Shymkent will take you to Turkestan within three hours.
It is important to note that by the end of 2020, an international airport will operate in Turkestan. In the meantime, you can get to the city by train from Nur-Sultan directly and if you are departing from Almaty, a transfer in Shymkent will be required.
And in the city itself, you can travel on public buses that can be catched right on the streets. To get off, you need to warn the driver about the stop in advance. If you do not know the exact address of the place you need, name the nearest attraction.