Ekedeshik, Turkmenistan

Ekedeshik – Mysterious Cave Town

The Ekedeshik Highway is situated on the left side of the Murghab River, not far from the Tagtabazar district. It is dug in a clayy sandstone 100 m above the river and a two-story labyrinth of households united by a long, half-cylindrical gallery passage. The monument is known as ‘Ekedeshik,’ translated from Turkmen as ‘single hole’ and has one entrance to the underground town. Up to now, not much has been studied, but scientific researchers believe that Ekedeshik had appeared around the 1st century before Christ.

The cave complex consists of two levels: according to the discovered artifacts, there were residential and praying rooms, kitchen, common halls, and the lower level had storehouses, wells and natural watercourse system that had water kept the underground water in the cave in one place. Archeologists suggest that Ekedeshik was an underground hermitage of Christian or Buddhist monks, who lived on the territory of Central Asia in the ancient times. There are also other ancient underground complexes found in the region that support the hypothesis. All of them were built by Christian or Buddhist monks.

There were also residential cellars that were excavated much later between the 14-15th centuries in the underground complex. In total, the complex contained 44 caves. It can accommodate quite a few people, and it is quite spacious. Scientists believe that a substantial number of families were living in Ekedeshik in the early medieval period. This is understandable because, in addition to being shielded from an outside perspective, the underground complex was big enough and well protecting.

Ekedeshik is nowadays Turkmenistan’s State Heritage and Cultural Reserve and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.