The Beket-Ata Mosque, located about 300 km from the city of Aktau, is one of the most significant places for the pilgrimage of believing Muslims and for those who want to find peace. The Beket-Ata Mosque is popular because of its underground location in Mangystau, which fascinates tourists and all visitors.
In the Kazakh language “Ata” means "grandfather", so, in the Kazakh culture, all elderly men could be called “Ata”. Beket-Ata was a Sufi and a hermit who built four mosques in the Mangystau region in Western Kazakhstan. He was born in the middle of the 18th century, not far from the village of Kulsary, in Atyrau region. He was a pupil of the famous teacher of that time, the wise Shopan-Ata, who was trained by Khoja Ahmet Yassavi himself. After 40 years, Beket-Ata became a Sufi, taught children, treated the sick, and helped those in need. The people know him as a holy healer, a predictor, and also as a hero and warrior who courageously fought in the war with the Kalmyks.
The underground mosque was named in honor of Beket-Ata, as he preached and prayed during the last years of his life there. He cut down a mosque in the chalky cape in the Oglandy Tract, where he also founded a Sufi school. The underground mosque consists of four rooms. Beket-Ata was buried in one of them, his sister was buried in the other, his pikestaff was in the third room, and the fourth was intended for prayers.
The number of pilgrims and tourists has increased so much that, at the top of the site, there is even a housing provided for visitors. The accommodation is free of charge, and there are usually enough vacant rooms so that any visitor could sleep in this holy place. However, local people are working there and taking care of the mosque, so usually, visitors donate a certain amount of money for the continuous care of that place and to support the mosque’s livelihoods.
The natural phenomenon of this area is still not completely clear. In the wild life, animals usually avoid the human eye. However, visitors meet birds, lizards and some even see Ustyurt mouflons that are very difficult to meet in the nature. Local people have long perceived the phenomenon of wild animals in the mosque as a greeting on behalf of the holy place.
Many people visit the underground mosque Beket-Ata to receive blessings for their earthly affairs. Local people say that you need to enter the underground mosque with a pure heart and a sincere desire to receive a blessing and find peace. After going into the rooms, praying, and asking for blessing and protection, you must leave your room with your back turned to the exit, facing the interior of the mosque, to show respect for the saints. Those visitors who brought faith in their hearts will receive blessings and find peace in the underground mosque of Beket-Ata. Apart from its religious properties, the mosque also became one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mangystau region and Western Kazakhstan.
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