In Taraz the village is located in the west of Taraz, where you will find the graves of two 11th- or 12th-century women, fabulous heroes of a local Romeo and Juliette. Shymkent-bound minibuses will drop you in the village, along the main road; the mausoleums are 300m (signposted) south.
Are you a lover of mysterious things?
If yes then you must visit Akyrtas – Kazakhstan’s Stonehenge – on the steppe 6 KM south of Aksholak village.
What you’ll find here is a rectangular precinct about 180m long and 150m wide with the low remains of massively thick perimeter walls built from 1.5m-long sandstone blocks, the bases of equally massive columns, jumbles of stones from around 100 rooms around a central open space, and evidence of an ingenious water supply system.
It’s a place for the imagination, with no certainty about when it was built, whether it was completed, or even what it was for.
The weight of opinion is that it was built as a summer residence for a local Arab or Karluk Turk ruler between the 8th and 11th centuries, but some believe that the stones here possess great powers and come here to embrace them and tap into their energy.
Ashkelon is 35 KM east of Taraz on the Almaty road. Merke (Merki)-bound mini-busses from Taraz bus station, can drop you at Aksholak.
Taraz Regional Museum
The pride and joy of what is one of Kazakhstan’s best local museums is the domed rear building housing an unusually impressive collection of Balbals (totem-like stone markers with the carved faces of honored warriors or chieftains).
Also, in the rear courtyard is a room dedicated to medieval Taraz, displaying mainly paintings and pottery.
The main building holds a respectable array of stuffed wildlife, battle paintings, chunky Kazakh jewelry and a yurt lavishly decked out in the style of a century ago.
You will find a wooded park on Ybyraev, which is situated at 700m east of Dostyk alany, is a reconstruction of this small but important old-fashioned grave. It houses cloth-covered sarcophagi and is an Islamic holy site; leave shoes outside.
The Karakhan Mausoleum, originally built in the 12th century, contains the tomb of a revered Karakhanid potentate known as Karakhan or Aulie-Ata (Holy Father).
The reconstructed Dauitbek Mausoleum, built for a 13th-century Mongol viceroy, is said to have been built lopsided in revenge for the man’s infamous cruelty. This is an Islamic holy site, and respectful dress applies.
Doubling as a karaoke joint in the evenings, this restaurant is worth checking out for its unusual decor and some surprisingly imaginative dishes with an international bent.
You must take a round in the Shakhristan Market. There you will find a lot of cheap Chinese clothes and shoes but there’s a small food section too, towards the east end and a couple of cheap cafes.
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