More than 100 kilometers from the city of Naryn hidden in the distant valley of Kara-Kayun, at an altitude of 3600 meters above sea level, near the border with China, there is hiding quite unusual and therefore very mysterious monument of medieval architecture in Kyrgyzstan — Tash-Rabad.
Historians and archaeologists are still arguing who, when, and most importantly, why built this unusual structure of solid stone, in such a sparsely populated area.
Some scientists believe that Tash-Rabat was used as caravanserai of the late middle Ages, while others tend to believe that this structure represents the ruins of the monastery of Christian Nestorians. Both of these versions have a right to exist, because in the Middle Ages, merchants and the wandering monks were using the same paths, often side by side.
There were the houses of reception of guests — caravan-sheds, and religious buildings, monasteries and temples at all crossroads of the Silk Road were built.
Along with the significant differences of structures, they very often had common features, both architectural and functional. After all, it is no secret that in common the monasteries have never denied the sales people in lodging, and still the pilgrims monks were often met in the caravanserai with warmth.
Anyway, let us try not to understand the subtleties of the case of archaeologists, and we would better take a look at this phenomenon more closely.
Tash-Rabat’s presumed dates of building are X-XIIcenturies, it is almost square building with sides of length 35.7 and 33.7 meters, covered by a low spherical dome. The main facade of the structure, traditionally located on the east side and a high stone wall, which are located in the center of the high iron gates of the portal and the arch, and laterally symmetrical towers. The building was built just below the mountain, and it seems that the back yard has an extension in height.
In the inside the building fully confirms its venerable age. On architectural traditions of the Middle Ages from the gate to the central hall there is spacious enough Corridor Gallery, on the sides of which there were located side rooms, at the same time the floor in them is lower than in the gallery. In the most areas there are no windows, so here is always a shadow in them, only the central hall is a little illuminated, in which light penetrates from the small holes around the circumference of the dome. And in this scattered light the remains of murals bearing floral design, which once covered the dome from the inside can be seen.
If we add to all the above, the fact that the building was fully built out of solid rock, it is believed that you will gat the impression.
On the hillside and around the buildings there is a necropolis, which is visible on the surface of earth mounds and some stone slabs. Perhaps there the people were continued to be buried even after the building was abandoned.
There were a lot of rumors and legends about who was actually built Tash Rabat. By one of them, the ancient builders were righteous — a father and son who survived the flood here, which was sent down to the land for the sins of people. It was exactly the building of the church which saved them from imminent death, but the man is weak, and the temple was never completed.
Once during one of the days of cutting off the roof of the sanctuary the son saw in the distance passing caravan and asked his father to go to hear the news. The father let his son, though he did not come back, he had gone with the caravan, in which, according to the legend, rode a beautiful girl. The old man was helped by the passing pilgrims to finish building the temple, carrying heavy stones on the roof of the building.
However, there is another legend which says that long ago, when the inhabitants of the mountains have not been yet devout Muslims, but they were worshiping fire; the holy person once came to these places with his students. They were all, as by the selection tall and strong, so very quickly they piled a stone temple, more like a fortress, and settled in it, led a righteous life, and helped the pilgrims, treated ill people.
It makes to believe the beautiful legends, but there is a written document of the troubled times — «Tarih-i-Rashidi», which clearly indicates that Tash-Rabat was built by the ruler, Muhammad Khan, who zealously fostered Islam in these places. However, what served as a fortress constructed in such a lonely place, and why in the district no more such structures with such a strange architecture, these questions are not answered and the source keeps silence.
Generally speaking, today it is difficult to comment on historical events or people’s actions that occurred thousands of years ago. Perhaps, the fortress was erected not for anything specific, but as a symbol of coming Islam, as a warning to the recalcitrant fire-worshipers.
In any case, we have what we have and that is a beautiful and mysterious structure, many legends, speculations and doubts.
Come and try to solve them yourself, maybe you will be exactly that one who will be able to find answers for it.