80% of Kyrgyzstan is mountainous. There are two major valleys: The northern valley where Bishkek is located and the southern Fergana valley, which is shared with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Getting from Bishkek to Osh in the Fergana valley requires an airplane ride. The airline we took was named Avia Traffic. Now that we're safely home, I discover that this airline, along with all the other Kyrgyzstan airlines, is barred from the European Union due to safety and maintenance concerns. (Although I've not been able to find that there have been any incidents with this airline.) Nevertheless, our sturdy 737 made it OK. The flight is over high mountains that were already (still?) snow-covered in part during out trip in October and the views were spectacular. Too bad my camera was in the overhead bin.

Picture

Narrative

Suleiman's Throne

This rock outcropping is in the middle of the city of Osh. It is called Suleiman's Throne. Suleiman (Sulayman or Solomon) was a prophet in the Quran. He is said to be buried here.

First we visited a museum that was carved by the Soviets into the mountain. Then we walked along a path right above the treeline toward a small shrine built by Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty of India. Babur was the descendent of both Tamerlane and Genghis Khan.

Mountain path

While visiting this location we were joined by students from the local language institute. They were there to practice their English and answer questions about themselves and the area.

English was the third language for many of them after Kyrgyz and Russian. Some were also studying French and German.

The pathway was well-maintained in part and pretty rugged in part. We had been warned that some of it would be difficult and several of our group elected to skip the hike.

There were a number of trails that led from the path up the mountain to see petroglyphs and caves where pilgrims might stay. There were also some caves right along the path.

Suleiman's Throne

Here's where the path gets somewhat more challenging. Some folks needed help to clamber over steep and broken steps.

The shrine is visible around the shoulder of the mountain.

Mosque

The base of the mountain was a large cemetery. The mosque is quite new.

Fertility rite

The mountain is frequented by women who are hoping for pregnancy. There are numerous areas on the mountain that are renowned for various healing powers. This particular area is a slide where women who wish to be expecting scoot along.

The rock has been worn smooth by hopeful moms-to-be.

Babur's shrine

This small mosque commemorates both Suleiman, who is said to be buried here, and Babur, who is said to have built it. The mosque has been restored.

I didn't go in, but there were some rocks with indentations that were said to have been made by Suleiman's ... or Mohammad's ... or Babur's knees.

Hope

This lovely youngster spent some time with me. I don't recall her Kyrgyz name, but she said it translates to "Hope."

Her English was quite good – better than most of the others. She had a great desire to travel and someday visit the US. Unfortunately her notion of life in the US was based almost entirely on American movies. I tried to explain that movies were NOT indicative of the real world!

This was our last adventure in Kyrgyzstan. After climbing down the mountain and bidding goodbye to the students, we were off to a corner of Uzbekistan for a night on our way to Tajikistan.