Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan

The ancient caravanserai in Tash Rabat lies about 520 km (1.5 hours) from Bishkek, 125 km (1.5 hours) from Naryn and 17km from the end of the paved road (just after emergency flight) 90 km (1.5 hours) from the Torugart boundary. According to one reviewer, the best preserved site in Silk Road is likely to be found and “no one else keeps the original atmosphere as well.”

This is a stone building that has been carefully restored and once housed an inn on Great Silk Road. Its origin date is strictly unclear – although there is evidence that the site was inhabited in the 10th century. Locate about 15 kilometers up a narrow and stunning gorge, embedded on the hillside, at the foot of the Tian Shan. It has been seen to be a place of both rest and prayer and to shield caravans from the wreck of the weather and the robbers, both to and from China, before Tamerlane and Genghis Khan.

A tradition claims a father and son founded the caravanserai. Just the top of the coupola was to be completed before their work was over… a few stones left to be set in order, a wagon entered the mountains. But he had said, “No, let’s get this job done first,” but the young people didn’t hear his dad… he had gone to welcome the caravan. Amongst the travelers there was a lovely young woman who fell in love with her… and when the caravan was leaving he left… and the father never saw again his son… and the cupola never came to an end.

Maybe one of the reasons it has maintained its character is that it is situated on the main road between Bishkek / Naryn and Torugart. The turn-off was not signed for several years and therefore travelers actually did not know what they were losing.

A vehicle must leave the asphalt road and go on a gravel road in the Tash Rabat valley. On the slopes there is a tussock grass that gives the appearance of corduroy, and you can see herds of horses and yaks, sheep and goat flocks – and even the camel on the hillside.