Landlocked and filled with endless beauty, Kyrgyzstan located in Central Asia is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east.
Bishkek and Osh are the two largest cities in the country.
While Bishkek is considerably modern in culture, Osh is rather more conservative with stronger Islamic influence. A city ravished with wide boulevards and marble faced buildings, Bishkek is growing daily leaving its Russian occupation far in its past.
Osh, located in the Ferghana Valley on the other hand played a major role in older times as the centre of silk production along the famous Silk Road trade route that lasted 3000 years. Today Osh is home to the largest outdoor market in Central Asia and also home to the country’s only World Heritage Site, the Sulayman Mountain.
The official language is Russian while the Kyrgz language was made official in 1991, hence making it a bilingual state. Majority of its population practice Islam while about 17% are Christians of the Russian Orthodox sect.
Bishkek and the Northwest:
Home to the Ala Archa National Park and the cities of Kara Balta, Talas, Tashkomur, Tokmok and its capital Bishkek.
Issyk Kul and the Tian Shan:
Home to the saline lake of Issyk Kul and the Heavenly Cloud Mountains of Tian Shan.
Second largest city of Osh is located here. Zahir ud-din Muhammad Babur, founder of the Mughal Dynasty of Indian kings, who was born in Andijan allegedly pondered his future conquests on the Sulayman Mountain.
Bishkek Orthodox Church:
A beautiful blue-steepled church recently renovated located on the corner of Jibek Jolu and Togolok Moldo.
Experience the Nowruz Celebrations:
Often referred to as the Persian New year in the Zoroastrian religion, Nowruz is an ancient festival marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. Witness a colourful Kyrgyz dance in the centre of Bishkek.
Also referred to as the Sulayman Rock or Taht-I-Suleiman, this is the resting place of the prophet Sulayman. Considered a holy place among Muslims, pilgrims ascend to the top using stairs leading up to the highest peak that houses a small mosque.
Visit the State History Museum:
Located in Bishkek, it depicts the history of the Kyrgyz people from their nomadic days to the war effort in the 1940s.
Photograph the Ulak Tartish:
Also called Buzkashi in other regions, it is a traditional team sport played on horseback where a carcass of a headless goat is grabbed from the ground while in full gallop with the goal to get it away from the other players and pitch it across a goal line or into a targeted circle.
Rest and relax at Issyk Kul:
An endorheic lake that never freezes although it is surrounded by snow capped peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains. Covering an area of 6236 square kilometres, it is the second largest mountain lake in the world.
Shop at the Dordoy Bazaar:
Buy a Kyrgyz felt hat called Kalpaks or purchase textiles, carpets and souvenirs in this open air market that stretches for more than a kilometre on the north-eastern outskirts of Bishkek. Beware of pickpockets here.
Visit the Burana Tower:
Located near the town of Tokmok, this large minaret in the Chuy Valley was built by the Karakhanids in the 9th century. The minaret, remnants of a castle and three mausoleums are all that remain of the ancient city of Balasagun.
The season for skiing begins in December and ends in April at the Tourist Centres of Kashka-Suu, Oruu-Sai, Norus, Toguz-Bulak, Orlovka and Karakol.
Visit the State Opera House:
Relish in some Russian and European ballet or opera performances.
Watch the Changing of Guards:
A legacy left by the Russians, watch the changing of guards that happens hourly at the Ala-Too Square in the centre of Bishkek built in 1984.
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