Cover photo © Credits to iStock/Ozbalci
Cover photo © Credits to iStock/Ozbalci

Unique mausoleums of Turkistan

2 minutes to read

People or pilgrims мisit the city of Turkistan, in the South of Kazakhstan, mainly for two reasons:  the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi and the Arystan Bab Mausoleum. These unique mausoleums of Turkistan are respected by all the pilgrims of the Turkic world, ethnolinguistic groups that speak related languages (the Turkic language family) and share certain cultural traits.

A short introduction

Emir Timur was the founder of the Timurid Empire and had an influence on Kazakhstan and expanded it in the 14th century. 

Khoja Ahmed Yassawi was a great poet and a pioneer of mysticism, Sufism. He made efforts to spread Islam throughout Central Asia. 

Arystan Baba was the first teacher of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi. According to the legend, Arystan Bab was a comrade of the Prophet Mohammed and lived 500 years to share his knowledge and wisdom of the prophet with Khoja Ahmed Yassawi. 

A legend

There is a legend about two mausoleums. Emir Timur (in Kazakhstan also known as Tamerlane) ordered the construction of the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in 1389, but all the efforts failed due to bad weather and other circumstances. Then, in a dream, Emir Timur was told to build the mausoleum in honor of Arystan Bab first, in order to be able to finish the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi’s mausoleum. Only after constructing the Arystan Bab Mausoleum (there's no certainty on when the construction started), it really happenedTherefore, when pilgrims visit the unique mausoleums of Turkistan, they first go to the mausoleum of the teacher Arystan Bab, and then the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi.

Picture © Credits to iStock/vadimfogel
Picture © Credits to iStock/vadimfogel

Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

This mausoleum is an outstanding monument of medieval architecture, occupying a special place in the history of Kazakhstan and the Turkic world. As mentioned above, the construction started in 1389, but due to Emir Timur’s sudden death in 1405, it was not completed. This mausoleum remains  unfinished until today. But it’s not just an ordinary mausoleum. It’s a complex that also combines a mosque and a khanqah (a special building for gatherings of the Sufi brotherhood). The mausoleum still keeps the real tomb of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi. Locals say that the threefold visit of his tomb is equal to the Hajj to Mecca. Although nowadays, the tomb is closed to visitors. The legend has it that his wife and son Ibrahim also rest there. An interesting part of the mausoleum consists of remaining personal belongings of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, for example, his personal water well. Until the beginning of the 20th century, after Friday prayers, people were given water from this well. Visiting museum costs 200 tenges (about 50 cents), and all the women must cover their head before entering. It’s also possible to find an English speaking guide, which will cost you between 2000-5000 tenges (5-12 euros).

Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi
Turkestan, Kazakhstan

Arystan Bab Mausoleum

The mausoleum is located 70 km from Turkistan. It's built over the grave of the famous mystic Arystan Baba. The structure of the mausoleum consists of two parts - a tomb (gurkhan) and a memorial mosque, united by a large vaulted corridor. In 1909, the whole mausoleum was reconstructed and almost rebuilt from zero, as the building collapsed. There is also a water well from where you can drink salty water, which by the words of pilgrims heals everything. You can visit this mausoleum free of charge, but it’s still necessary for women to cover their heads.

Arystan Bab Mausoleum
Arystan Bab Mausoleum
Kazakhstan

After visiting unique mausoleums of Turkistan, you will have an indescribable feeling, as if you were in the past. It also enriches your spiritual life whatever religion you follow.


The author

Heewon Jang

Heewon Jang

My name is Heewon. My interests are travelling, photography and literature. I know how to do things right but I'll always do like i want to :).

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