For those who enjoy a walk and a city view, take the trail up to Solomon's Throne. It's uphill on a mostly decent path, concrete with a bit of rock thrown in. If you're lucky, you'll get passed up by one of the few men running up it. If not, never fear! The view of Osh is very pleasant, and this seems to be one of those places to bring a girlfriend or boyfriend... a romantic spot. Behind the viewing deck, mountain-side, are a few vendors and a holy spot. Be sure to wear good hiking boots, and at least have with you some long sleeves/legs to wear if you want to go inside.
In the first image, you'll see a round almost yurt-like structure at the bottom of the image. This is often used as a landmark to find the entrance. It's not well marked!
Osh has also some museums, that I unfortunately did not see:
- A small Archaeological-Cultural Museum with many of the ancient artefacts discovered in the city's environs.
- Historical-Ethnographic Museum: the Great Silk Road Museum, with some exhibitions focussing on trade and life during the times of the Silk Road.
I apologise - I do not have the contact details for this home. I just remember it was Imogen's house. It is a guesthouse, which shows the beautiful wood carvings of the Uzbek people. We ate in a coutyard looking up at laden grapevines.The table was full of fruit: plums, pears, watermelon and sweetmelon were eaten before we got to the main meal. Here we were served a dish of Plov: rice, carrots, mutton, eastern spices, and whole roasted garlic. The rice still has some of the husk on it. Delicious!
Great with tea (as is everything!). even tea has a custom: Russians will pour 1/2 cup of tea or more, whereas Uzbeks will pour a small amount in the bottom of the cup so that the tea never gets cold. The amount poured diminishes the more the tea pourer respects you.
This is a sacred place for Muslims, known as "Little Mecca". Suleiman or Solomon, prayed here, and some believe he is also buried here. This place has many legends as you wind your way up the hill: there are caves that are said to cure elbow, arm, or leg, or head ailments, if you put your affected part of the body into grooves worn smooth by similarly sick people. It is also said to promote fertility - it vaguely resembles a pregnant woman. There are also "happiness trees" on the way up: trees bedecked with strips of material tied around the branches, in exchange for a wish or good luck. At the top of the hill (200m and about 30 minutes) is Babur's House, built by the Central Asian emperor Babur, who loved ths mount. The museum is not particularly interesting, but worth a look if only to see the concrete soviet overhang that was built. (no english descriptions are in the museum)
This was a very worthwhile visit. Interesting historical and cultural insights, petroglyph displays, archeological items from as far back as the bronze age, traditional Kyrgyz handicraft displays and a tribute to the Kyrgyz storytellers (manasch). We had no translator, but loved it still! Equally appealing was the chaikhana outside, where we spent some hours drinking tea and coke and watching the river flow beneath our table.
This place is not only for children: there are some rides that adults can go on, plus some great places to see Osh's citizens relax and drink tea. If you enjoy chess, then you can compete against Uzbeks who have been playing chess since they learnt how to sit (see pic). It is also interesting to see how the newspapers of the day are displayed for all to come and read. There is also a public pool (which we did not use).
This bazaar has occupied the same site on the banks of the Akbura river for 2000 years. The vibe and activity reflects this long heritage. It is a sensory overload of sights, smells and sounds. We danced to tapes of Uzbek, Russian, and Turkish music (and to this day have a tapedeck in my car so that I can play the tapes I bought. CD's are foreign). We watched a blacksmith prepare his horseshoes and the nails for shoeing a horse (and the horseshoe he gave my son is mounted above his bedroom door today). We bought monkey nuts for my monkeys (my children). We bought kalpaks - traditional felt hats. We browsed through the mountains of food. We saw a Kyrgyz "pharmacy" - all the drugs and medicines laid out in the 40 degree heat on a plastic tablecloth. The children were drawn to the tables piled high with kitsch Chinese toys. They also hovered over the books trying to figure out the Cyrillic. And when we were absolutely exhausted, we found a wonderful chaikhana (there are plenty) and drank some tea and ate watermelon.
The road from Sary Tash to Osh goes through some beautiful valleys and some small villages. In a bigger village there is a small museum dedicated to Kurmanjan Datka - the "Queen of the South". Kurmanjan Datka has been a Kyrkyz woman and nomadic leader about 100 years ago. She had opposed the Russian expansion in this region. She is now a national hero. Her picture can be found on the 50-som-note.
The museum shows some fotografs of her and other local public figures. You can also find an exhibition of local tools and musical instruments. Very impressive are also the pics of women who gave birth to 10 and more children and are regarded as local heroes. The museum has an interesting modern architecture ressembling a yurt. There is also a small shop opposit of the museum, where you can buy bread and a very good smoked cheese.
The name of the woman can also be written as Qurbanjan Dotka.
The bazaar of Osh is one of the biggest and lifeliest, that I saw on my Central Asia Trip. It is very picturesque, stretching for about a kilometer along the bank of a river. Here you buy literally everything! Fruits and vegetables, clothes, mobile phones, international brands of shampoo or shower gel.
I enjoyed strolling around on my own and trying to talk to people. Surprisingly many people speak German, but also Russian and sometimes English is understood. People are very friendly and try to udnerstand wnat you want. Germans can be mistakenly recognized as Russians. But that is no problem at all.
Until the sixteenth century this mountain was know as "Bara Kuch" or "Nice Mountain". It dominates the city. Only in the distance you can see the Mountains of Pamir in the dust. Suleiman MOuntainwas renaimed after the Muslim Prophet Suleyman Sheik, who buried at the foot of the mountain. But today the guides maybe tell you, that the mountain is named after King Salomon from the Old Testament, who has somehow flown to Osh and was buried here.
The mountain anyway is respected as a holy place. There is a big muslim graveyard at the foot of the mountain, as it is regarded very helpful on the way to paradise to be buried near a holy man.
Steep steps are leading to the top of the mountain from were you have a nice view on the town. On the way you pass a hole in the rocks. This is now known as the Tomb of Suleiman. Many women do a pilgrimage to this tomb as it is said to help women get a child.
On the top there is the House of Babur, a small mosque from 15th century. It has been build by Babur in 1497 who later became the founder of the Mogul Dynasty of India.
Many pilgrims come to the House of Babur. It is also said, that even Mohammed himself prayed here. So this is a very holy place for the local Muslims.
The climb up the mountain takes a minimum of 30 minutes. It can be very exhausting, when it is hot. The only shadow is on the top at the House of Babur.
From Sary Tash to Osh the road goes down. We are laeving the high mountain valleys of Pamir Alay. Osh is at the beginning of the Fergana Valley. This road is about 180km long. But it is in very bad condition, so the drive takes about 6 to 7 hours. The landscape is very impressive and we saw nomads with their cattle all the way.
Since some years it is said, that the road is under construction. We did not see much construction going on. Only on a small part were some machines doing almost nothing. So this road will be under construction for a few years more.
For some impressions of the spectacular landscape along the way please see my travelogue.
Solomons Throne (Dom Babura in Kyrgyz) is a huge rock that looks down upon the picturesque city of Osh. It is about a 25 metre climb to the top. If you look closely you can see the entrance to the museum on the left.
Whenever I see a huge statue of Lenin I can't help but take a photo. This one is smaller than the one we saw in Tajikistan but pretty impressive none the less.
To guage the size you might be able to see me at the base (I am in a white t-shirt).
The special part of this place is the ugliness and fakeness of it all. The Soviet Red Army blasted a holy Kyrgyz cave, built the eye-sore you see in the picture and then inside placed modern replicas of old artifacts.
We also found that they there is a Kyrgyz price and a Foreigner price. We talked with the lady at teh counter for a while and managed to enter for the local price.
We were happy that we got in cheaply because it wasn't very authentic inside. It reminded me of when I saw Kim Il Sung's "Birthplace" in Pyongyang. For a man who was 90 years old he was born in a hut that could not be older than 29 years. Very strange.
Hard to explain what I mean but you will understand what I mean when you visit it.
When you climb to the top of Solomons Throne you get an amazing view of Osh and the surrounding area. Looks very green and peaceful from up there.