Undoubtedly, the most famous historic site in Southern Kazakhstan is Turkestan, founded in V century AD. In those ancient times it was called Yasy. Many Kazakhstan visitors are interested in Khadzha Akhmed Yassaui mausoleum excursion. It was built in the end of XIV century in the memory of the great thinker of XII century khadzha Akhmet ibn Ibragim al-Yasavi, a dervish, Sufism preacher and poet. There is an opinion that his family took its origin from the daughter of Muhammed who was a Muslim Mother of God, the progenitress of all prophet’s descendant. This monument is really beautiful in its architecture and complicated rock walls carving, and also by its blue domes. At the local town market you can buy not expensive traditional souvenirs.
In 30 km from Turkestan you can look at the excavations of ancient city – Otrar – which was destroyed in XV century. The first settlement in Otrar area was made in II century BC. It was founded by saki descendants – kangyuntsy – and in VI-VIII centuries was referred to as Kangu-Taraban. Then the word “Taraban” was transformed into Farab and is known by many after the name of famous philosopher and scientist Abu Nasir ibn Muhammed who is known in history as al-Farabi. The history of this city is full of different collisions: this was a center of Middle-Asian civilization. It is famous by the names of many scientists and thinkers such as Avicenna, Ulugbek and al-Biruni. It was destroyed and restored for many times, including the destruction by Chingiskhan in XIII century. The history of this ancient city ends in the beginning of XV century when it was once again destroyed by Shakh-Dzhakhan in 1410. Today when you visit Otrar you can see excavated walls of the city and watch archaeologists’ work.
Not far from Shaulder you may visit one more architectural monument of XIX century – Arystanbab mausoleum. As Khadzha Akhmed Yassaui mausoleum, it is an active shrine and attracts a lot of pilgrims. On both sides of the road you will see many hills – those are the remains of ancient settlements, which were abundant in Syr-Darya valley. In Shaulder there is a small history museum with numerous ancient exhibits and Otrar fight diorama.
Traditionally Kazakhstan guests see several objects in Sairam: mausoleums of Abdl-Aziz-Bab (XVII century) and graves in honor of Akhmet Yassaui parents – Ibragim-Ata and Karachach-Ana (XIX century) and minaret of XIX century. It is quite interesting to spend some time in regional history museum in Shymkent city, it has good expositions.
If you have more time, you should go to Suzak town. Now it is situated on the limit of South-Kazakhstan region, but a couple of centuries ago when there were no railroads and car roads, Suzak was considerable city at the cross of migration routes. It impresses by the originality of buildings and by high fences made from local clay. There is a beautiful mosque in the city which is more than a hundred years old. And right near it there is a kiln for bricks. The walls of the kilns have fingerprints of the people who made them. And the most interesting is an ancient settlement right inside the city, not even touched by archaeologists, with the remains of ancient ceramics just under you feet. Some local people know a lot in history, because their ancestors played considerable role in Suzak history. Thanks to their stories the past seems to revive, and Kazakhstan becomes closer and clear. In the city you can see beautiful modern mausoleum Kara-bura where you can hear an interesting legend about it. Here you can also order national dinner, and it will be served in a big nice yurt. It is better to get to Suzak from Turkestan using the road through Achisayskiy pass. The excursion with both-ends way will take one day.