Tash-Rabat and an unexpected insight into Kyrgyz life
Tash-Rabat is a 15th century caravansarai in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan’s Naryn province. Roughly translated, “Tash” means “stone” and “Rabat” means “fortification” and the caravansarai probably got this name because when you first see it the building looks quite formidable.
The caravansarai was a stopping-off point for merchants and travellers making their way along this part of the Silk Road. And, like those ancient travellers, we were there for a lunch stop.
I had a look around the caravansarai which is an interesting building, big main domed room with side chambers, a well and remains of a mosque. However, I decided to take a walk back down the picturesque valley we’d driven up to get to the site.
I’d seen some great looking yurts with horses and yaks and wanted to get some pictures of the herdsmen with the yaks. A stream flows down the centre of the valley, so I followed the stream trying catch up with some horsemen in the vein hope of finding a great shot.
This proved fruitless, but the long walk turned out to be worthwhile in the end as I came across a young Kygyz girl and her mother making a blanket with a goat hair stuffing. It was really interesting to watch them making this ‘tushuk’ – a traditional Kyrgyz blanket.
It was also interesting talking to Cholpen – one of those people you meet when you travel who you never forget. Even though she was just 13 years old she could speak Kyrgyz, Russian, good English, and little French, Dutch, German, and (as her father told me later), Spanish!
Cholpen does guide work when foreigners stay in the nearby yurts near her house. She showed us around her home, they even have a homemade stone-built sauna. Jaako (a fellow traveller from Finland) found this particularly interesting as his family have four at their home in Finland. We both took a look inside and it was stone built and the fuel was yak dung!
Tash-Rabat is an interesting place to visit, but more interesting is the small community living along the river the flows down through the valley. It just goes to show that it isn’t always the history of a place or the ancient ruins that provide the best experiences when you venture off the beaten path!