I have came to Otrar to behold ruins of the ancient city destroyed by Genghis Khan’s forces in 1219. Otrar is the city which brought the famous khan to Central Asia. If only a Taizu’s trade caravan would not be robbed and murdered. In accordance with orders of a great governor Khorezmshah. Rest of Asia and Europe might be spared from cruel Mongol invasion.
Used as a cultural and political key point on a Silk Road. Now a ghost town with archaeological site known as Otrar-Tobe where one can see low walls. Pillars and ruins of central baths. Monumental buildings once standing here on this fortified hill.
I have arrived to Shauildir on marshrutka from Shymkent and needed a taxi to drive me around to the sights of Otrar. That’s where the challenge has begun. Everyone wanted to help me out. But nobody was speaking Russian. only Kazakh. which is nothing similar. Closer to Turkish to be frank.
I was trying my best with the sign language and my guide book. But I was helpless. And then to my great joy a saviour has appeared. In this forgotten by God town. An American Girl Rebecca. Who is apparently teaching English in the school near by.
The talks began and I got best taxi on the spot. An electric blue Lada with broken seat belts and cracked front window. Price has been agreed and off we went. Me happy as a kid who got a bag of sweets. From there story of Otrar got only better.
We arrived on Otrar-Tobe only to learn that it is closed. It seems that my taxi driver was kind of a mind reader because he quickly understood that I didn’t come all the way down here not to see it. He opened a gate for me and told me ( in worser Russian then mine) that he will explain everything to the man working here if he will appear. I believe that is what he said and lets leave it at this point.
After seeing the ruins he took me to the Aristan Bab Mausoleum and a great central mosque near by. According to the legend. When Timur started the construction of Kozha Akhmed Yasaui Mausoleum. A giant green bull kept on appearing and demolishing construction. Timur started praying and in the night. In his dream a saint appeared and requested him to build mausoleum of Aristan Bab. The teacher and predecessor of Yasaui.
Another legend states that Aristan was a soldier of prophet Muhammad. And one day as prophet said with his followers to eating persimmons. He had a revelation. The prophet looked at the fruit and announced “the persimmon is for Yasaui who will be born in 400 years”. He asked his followers who would pass this persimmon on to him. There were no volunteers. The prophet repeated his question and Aristan Bab replied “I will pass the persimmon if you will try to get 400 years from Allah”. It is believed that Aristan lived 400 years and became a real mentor to Yasaui.
That’s what I have understood from the old man sitting on the bench outside of outstanding mosque opposite the mausoleum. I have to confess to looking up a word hurma, Russian for persimmon in the dictionary after my return to the hotel.