Central Asia, in particular Kazakhstan, is a dower chest for caves that turned out to be a tourism destination. People's hunger for sacred places in remote destinations rises year by year. Nearly 100,000 people per year come to make a wish in the biggest cave in Central Asia - Aqmeshit in South Kazakhstan.
Aqmeshit Cave has gained popularity in the past years, and many people talk about this sacred place as one of the most intriguing and unusual one, yet easy to reach. It is located just 90 km away from the metropolis of South Kazakhstan - Shymkent. Until today, there are no confirmed pieces of evidence when and how this cave appeared. However, as per sources of Moscow's geological investigations in 1973, the cave appeared due to a fallen meteorite, and the rocks inside the cave belong to the Eneolithic period. From the outside, the cave's territory covers 200 square meters, whereas, from the inside, it is up to 1 hectare large. An interesting fact about this place is that it keeps the average temperature of 18-20 degrees all year round. It simply means that in the summertime, it is refreshingly cold and warm in the winter season. The hallmarks of Aqmeshit Cave are mulberry trees growing from the inside of the cave and seem like rising towards the sun. The height of the cave is 32-34 m, the length is 162 m, and the width is 64 m.
Kazakh people are known for being quite spiritual, and every place, especially the so-called sacred destinations, have a legend. "Aqmeshit" in the Kazakh language means "White Mosque". The white color in Kazakh culture symbolizes something bright and sacred equal to the light. Referring to the legend, once upon a time, a Kazakh warrior Esirkep Koigeldy was on his way for the battle with Jungars with his troop of 10,000 men, and all of a sudden, a heavy rain overtook them. Then, they found a cave and decided to shelter it. In this cave, they were safe from the heavy rain, risks of being attacked, and they could pray. One of the warriors offered Esirkep to call this cave after his name, but Esirkep said: "This place served us as a shelter, allowed us to pray calmly, therefore we will call it Aqmeshit - a bright place for prayers". Ever since, people have come here not only to enjoy the extraordinary view but also to spend a night and pray. Many people say that their wishes made in this cave came true, which is, of course, worth trying.
Like every city, the Shymkent metropolis offers lots of bus tours to sacred places like Aqmeshit Cave. This is one of the safest and most comfortable ways to do with a group of enthusiasts. Usually, tourist agencies try to entertain people by taking them to several places in one trip. The trip might start early in the morning at around 8 am, and you will be back in the city by 7-8 pm. This is a time needed for a visit to Aqmeshit Cave plus another nearest tourist attraction. If you want to take a lighter trip just to see the Aqmeshit Cave and be back, it will definitely take less time - around 1,5 h one way. On the spot, there is a 78-year old man who has been accompanying tourists coming to Aqmeshit for the past 20 years. He will provide you with helmets and tell you all about the cave. In that case, it will be great to have a Kazakh speaking person for the translation.
In the summertime, you will need to have a headcover, some snacks for a day and an interesting point to outline is an empty bottle. In the Aqmeshit Cave, there is spring water which you can collect and drink. The spring water is rich in minerals, so you are advised not to miss out on this opportunity. Additionally, keep your sunblock cream and ID at all times, the basic sporty clothes and sneakers as well. It is a cave, so make sure you are dressed appropriately. Some people bring nice clothes to dress up on the spot to take marvelous photos. Travelling so far, why not try it as well! Aqmeshit Cave is a sacred place, and rumor has it that after visiting the cave, people feel remarkably balanced, relaxed and happy. Just 20 km away from Aqmeshit Cave, there is another sacred place called Domalak Ana, which is dedicated to a lady who lived in the 6th-7th century, who was a preacher and a third wife of the ruler of the land around Aqmeshit Cave. Most people who wish to find their soulmates for life, have children and be healthy go to her mausoleum to ask for their wishes to come true.
Aqmeshit Cave is just in 1,5 h by car from the Shymkent city in South Kazakhstan. All year round, this extraordinary place welcomes people who desire to make a wish in the biggest cave in Central Asia.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.