Tash Rabat is a 15th century roadside inn that served as a Silk Road station. Originally a monastery, the building has been well preserved through the ages, and is now a landmark of the Naryn region in Kyrgyzstan.
Tash Rabat caravanserai
Remote as it was, it was one of the first places in the country that caught my attention. It is located in a valley of the Tian Shan mountains, and the access is a 10 km off-road route.
It is usually crowded in the summer, when people from nearby villagers set up a yurt camp near the place for tourists. In the winter, there is nobody. It is not possible to reach the place by public transportation during the cold season, and that’s basically what first convinced me to rent my own 4×4 car.
Tash Rabat is a small labyrinth of rooms, some of which seem to be about to cave in any second. The restoration work was well done. Once in, you can close your eyes and abandon your senses to the caravan station that was once bustling with activity.
Merchants from China’s Kashgar region, the Fergana valley in modern Uzbekistan, and the roads that go all the way north till Kazakhstan would take rest before continuing their journeys across the high Tian Shan mountains. What wouldn’t I give to be there, listening to all their incredible stories over a cup of chai, nan bread and horse butter.
On the southern part of the road from Naryn to Torugart, there are a number of beautiful small villages. Some are named At-Something else, where “At” means horse.
I was lucky enough to find a school teacher in Kara-Suu that hosted me for the night. His family has many cows and a few horses, and his son was away in the mountains with his herd, embracing the nomad lifestyle.