Monday, June 4, 2007

Lake Issyk Kul



Lake Issyk Kul


Lake Issyk Kul image courtsey: silkroadandbeyond.co.uk


Lake Issyk Kul – A big and hot lake in the icy ranges.


“Precious aquamarine in the silvery setting of snowy mountain ranges” wrote the famous Russian traveler Pyotr Semyonov (1827 – 1914). Issik Kul (issic = hot and kul = lake) is an endorheic lake (formed of the underground springs beneath) in the Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan - a former member of the erstwhile Soviet Union. This lake is big enough to be called a high mountain sea; as it is about 1609 feet above sea level. It is one of the biggest in fresh-water lakes (178 kilometers in length and 60 kilometers in width) and covers an area of about 6236 sq.km.


Issyk Kul image courtsey: alia.lg.kg


A journey to the shore of Issik Kul is a bit tough one, from Frunze (the capital of Kyrgystan) the road twines to Spurs of the Tienshan Mountain, it then zigzags through the mountain to a height of 1609 meters. Before the completion of the last turn there appears a basin with flowers all over and the colossal lake stretching to the horizon. It is second only to Lake Titicaca among the huge mountain lakes but far deeper than that (depth 702 meters).


This valley is inhabited by Kirghiz people with exclusive cultural standing they are friendly simple healthy and hard-working. They are mostly engaged in tending cattle, sheep and horses in the foothills. The exotic climate medicinal water of the lake and fat fish of the lake all make the people a fortunate lot. Recently they have got adequately accustomed to urban life styles. It is Kirghiz who first recognized the nutritive and curative properties of koumiss (fermented mare’s milk) which they use abundantly.


Lake Issyk Kul image courtsey: horizonsunlimited.com





Its water is crystal-clear but a bit salty when scooped in the palm of the hand it appears to have a slightly bluish tinge (the reason for this lake appear turquoise in a cloudless day. Many rivers and streams flow in to this lake (altogether 118 among them Djyrgalan and Tyrup are major ones) but there is no outlet from the lake, There are many underwater ground springs which pumps hot ground water in to this lake; so that this lake is always warm (it doesn’t freezes even in the harshest winter). This phenomenon is responsible for controlling the microclimate of the valley where winter less cold and summer less hot.


As the autumn approaches the lake takes the role of an aviary as of birds of all sorts’ flock to the lake and surrounding valley. White-Swans are the first to visit followed by many other migratory birds filling the entire air with their sounds. Until March they enjoy the warmth of the lake and the fat fish beneath and fly away when winter is over. The fertile valley with temperate climate is ideal for the wild poppies bloom making the valley a bed of flowers. Thousands of swans on the lake surface and full bloom wild poppies on the shore jointly give this area a nothing short of a paradise.


Lady Milking Mare


The Kirghiz were the first to discover the nutritional and healing properties of koumiss (fermented mare's milk).


This lake is not always as placid as it looks most of the time, during spring occasionally there are fierce winds that blow triggering terrible waves which at times throw some of the hidden treasures like old copper vessels, remnants of archaic potteries, old coins and such trophies from its bottom to the shore. The bed of this lake has always been a mystery for those living around as well as historians and archaeologists and their searches have recovered many precious evidences as proof of a township that existed centuries before where this lake placed.


The extreme depth of this lake is beyond the reach of ordinary people hence the bottom is always filled with mysteries for them for some there are valuable treasures to be recovered those with high imaginative capacity tell stories that are weird as well as funny, one of the most funny may be quoted below.


‘It was king Ossounes’ who ruled the area once upon a time. He had tow ears shaped as that of ass! It was a top secret and the barbers who did the job of his hair-dressing were killed after the job to keep the secrecy. One barber soon after the job yelled in to an unused well that ‘the king has ass ears’ before he could be killed. The well kept on repeating the words in loud echo. King and his cronies filled the well with rubbles to silence it, but the water from the well over-flowed and flooded the entire empire! This lake Issyk Kul was born and beneath the lake are there the palace and all the treasures the king kept.


This valley was a stopover in the ancient silk-route that connected India, China Afghanistan etc and from time immemorial served as health and leisure centers for visitors. The curative properties of its mineral rich water have always been a crowd puller during the Soviet times the valley had a good time catering the needs of travelers from all member states. The present government has recognized the importance of tourism and doing all to promote it.


Tombs Issyk Kul Lake image courtsey: tabisite.com


It is a fact that each big lake keeps exclusive cultural setup to the people who live around it, because a lake is an enclosed area and impose limitations to the peoples’ mobility and bind them together with a magic string giving birth to exclusive features to their cultural dealings. The Issyk Kul also have nurtured a very special culture in the inhabitants of its shore. Tall Tien Shan Mountains around and the lake in the middle have so far protected their culture as an entity and they were able to lead a life of child-hood innocence which let them live long and stay healthy all their life.



6 comments:

Happy LOL Day said...

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Nigel St.John Regina Smegmatica Howle-Raines said...

Thanks for stopping by. Come back anytime you'd like your head filled up with asymmetric nonsense!

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bluerussian said...

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Maggie's Notebook

pasider said...

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love the pictures and opinions on your blog .. but the horse getting milked one is my favorite :)

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