The climb up the tower is through a non-lit staircase and it is quite a pleasure to visit areas that are not yet "touristified". The tower is about 1000 years' old, and was once 20m taller. Over time, and through earthquakes, it has become the only ancient building in the area (that used to be the ancient city of Belasagun).
The Kyrgyz people love stories, and the story about Burana goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a king who had a daughter. A witch cursed her at birth and said that she would die on her eighteenth birthday. The king imprisoned her in Burana tower to keep her safe, and of course, she grew up as a beautiful princess. But on her 18th birthday, her father brought her a platter of grapes to celebrate, and as she took the fruit, she was bitten by a spider and died.
The open air museum around the Burana Tower has got a pictorial representation of the history of the tower, and the city Belasugan founded in 960 AD - so I am told. I could not read the history because it was in Russian only. Apparently the city was so beautiful that when Genghis Khan came through, he spared the city and renamed it Gobilik (the "good city").
Balbals are grave markers used by nomadic Turkic peoples who used to roam Central Asia. They could be carved with the face of a victim of war, a conquered person or someone special to the carver. This collection at Burana Tower has been assembled from all over the Chui valley, and is displayed in the open air near the tower.