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Destination Talas

Talas is a small but famous city located in the valley of the same name. The Talas valley is cut off from the rest of Kyrgyzstan by a chain of mountains. The most convenient route passes through Kazakhstan, but you need to get a visa. However, it is also possible to reach the valley through the Teo-Ashuu pass, turning north from the main Bishkek-Osh road after crossing the Suusamyr valley.

Talas is known as the Land of Manas. It is believed that this is where the birthplace of the legendary hero is located. A few kilometers from the city is the mausoleum of Manas. There is also a museum dedicated to the history of the creation of the Manas epic, which was built to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the epic in 1995. The museum is located behind the hill, which was used as an observation deck by sentries guarding the valley. Archaeologists have made some rather interesting discoveries here. There is an opinion that the hill has a man-made origin and was created by people. There are other signs of ancient fortification and protection of the territory. There are several mausoleums in the Talas Valley, and it is very likely that many of them were built on the model of this particular mausoleum.

There are two different opinions about the origin of the mausoleum (gumbez). According to some, the son of Manas Semetey brought the body of his father here (to the village of Akhyrtash, near the mouth of the Kenkol River), where he built a mausoleum. According to another popular belief, the mausoleum was built by Manas' wife Kanykei and his friend and adviser Bakai. In order to prevent the destruction of the mausoleum by the enemies of Manas, they hung an inscription over the door, which said that this was the mausoleum of a little girl.

The Gumbez itself, consisting of one room, is built in a typical Asian style on a square base with an octagonal pyramidal roof. The complex is decorated with brickwork. Gumbez Manas is depicted on the reverse side of the 20 som banknote.

The Talas valley is known as the site of a battle in 751 between the troops of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Türgesh Khaganate on the one hand, and the army of Tang China for control of Central Asia. The reign of the Tang Dynasty in China (Tang, 618 - 907) was marked by a significant expansion of the zone of influence of the Celestial Empire. The Chinese successfully regained the lands that were previously lost and strengthened their positions on the Tibetan border. In 740, China gained control of Kabul and Kashmir. As they moved north and west, under the leadership of Kao-Hsin-Chin (who led the army to victory in Gilgit and Fergana), the Chinese faced a combined army in 751 and were defeated in a single battle between Arab and Chinese troops. In fact, the battle took place on the banks of the Talas River, near the city of Taraz (Dzhambul) in Kazakhstan.

Historians of the parties assess the results of the battle in different ways, but one thing is indisputable: the technology of the paper-making process, which was a state secret in China, together with Chinese engineers captured in the Talas Valley, is transferred to the Islamic world, and then to the European West.

In 1275, the Turkic/Mongolian Nestorian monk Rabban Bar Sauma made an incredible pilgrimage from Mongol-ruled China to Jerusalem. In Talas, in the north of Western Kyrgyzstan, he met Qaidi Khan, the cousin of the great Khan Kublai. In Europe, he visited the Vatican, met with the French King Philip IV the Handsome and the English King Edward I.

In an atlas compiled by Abram Crescas in Palma de Mallorca, in Catalonia in 1375-77. a map of Kyrgyzstan was presented, which showed Lake Issyk-Kul and the cities of Jerusalem and Talas, which were designated as "holy cities" for the Jews.

The area was inhabited as early as the 9th century, but even when the Russians expanded the settlement in 1864, it was still smaller than a village. The current city was founded by Russian and Ukrainian settlers in 1877 as the village of Dmitrievskoye. At first, there were about 100 houses of immigrants who were mainly engaged in agriculture. The most notable building was a brick church built in the 1920s. There is a picturesque park in the center of the city and on the bank of the river.

Not far to the north-east of the city (about 20 km) there are three sites of the ancient man - Kulan Sai, Terek Sai and Kurgan Tash. There are examples of rock paintings and petroglyphs in the vicinity.

To the south of the city lies the stunning Besh-tash Valley (meaning "Five Stones" in Kigiz) - one of the many valleys waiting for the brave traveler. The region is also famous as the birthplace of the great contemporary Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, who was born in the small village of Sheker near the Kazakh border.

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