SULAIMAN TOO

Sulaiman-tooSulaiman-Too (Solomon Mountain), a mammoth craggy rock seemingly just risen from the ground, is the major landmark in central Osh. It remains an important place of pilgrimage for Moslems, many of whom believe that the prophet Mohammed prayed at the top of the peak. Because its west-east profile resembles a supine pregnant woman (you probably won’t envision the outline until after being told), Sulaiman-Too is revered by many women who have thus far been unable to have children.

The climb up to the top of Sulaiman-Too begins behind the big silver dome (a relatively expensive shop) near Osh Library on Kurmanjan Datka. An archway heralds the beginning of the ascent. Although the climb is not strenuous, the path is slippery when ice drapes the steps and the lack of adequate handrails adds to the danger of falling from some parts of the narrow purchase.

A fine view of Osh awaits you at the top of the 30-minute climb. Next to the flagpole is a small mosque built in 1497 by Babur, the founder of India’s Mogul Dynasty. Worshipers often visit the mosque, as well as the tiny blackened alcove behind the building.

The path continues from the back of the mosque and snakes by a Moslem cemetery. People frequently go off the path to climb the surrounding rocky ledges. At the end of the walkway is an archaeological-cultural museum, open Wednesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm, entrance fee about $0.10. The museum houses a small collection of artifacts (ceramics, metal work) unearthed in or nearby Osh and dated from the 11thcentury. The displays are in Kyrgyz and Russian. The steps in the back of the gallery are lined with stuffed local wildlife and lead to the upper floor, which maybe closed. From the outside platform, you have a nice view of the Osh. The balcony has been the site of locally-made musical videos.

The same pretty sight cannot be said if you were the viewing the building from elsewhere. Even from afar, the metal facade is an eyesore and a desecration to Sulaiman-Too.

To descend Suleiman-Too, either wind your way through footpaths leading from the museum or retrace your previous steps.

Brief Description by UNESCO World Heritage Centre http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1230

Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain Kyrgyzstan dominates the Fergana Valley and forms the backdrop to the city of Osh, at the crossroads of important routes on the Central Asian Silk Roads. For more than one and a half millennium, Sulaiman was a beacon for travelers revered as a sacred mountain. Its five peaks and slopes contain numerous ancient places of worship and caves with petroglyphs as well as two largely reconstructed 16th century mosques. One hundred and one sites with petroglyphs representing humans and animals as well as geometrical forms have been indexed in the property so far. The site numbers 17 places of worship, which are still in use, and many that are not. Dispersed around the mountain peaks they are connected by footpaths. The cult sites are believed to provide cures for barrenness, headaches, and back pain and give the blessing of longevity. Veneration for the mountain blends pre-Islamic and Islamic beliefs. The site is believed to represent the most complete example of a sacred mountain anywhere in Central Asia, worshiped over several millennium.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

Sulaiman-Too Mountain dominates the surrounding landscape of the Fergana Valley and forms the backdrop to the city of Osh. In medieval times Osh was one of the largest cities of the fertile Fergana valley at the crossroads of important routes on the Central Asian Silk Roads system, and Sulaiman-Too was a beacon for travelers. For at least a millennium and a half Sulaiman-Too has been revered as a sacred mountain. Its five peaks and slopes contain a large assembly of ancient cult places and caves with petroglyphs, all interconnected with a network of ancient paths, as well as later mosques. The mountain is an exceptional spiritual landscape reflecting both Islamic and pre-Islamic beliefs and particularly the cult of the horse. Sulaiman-Too corresponds closely to iconic images in the Universe of Avesta and Vedic traditions: a single mountain with a peak dominating four others, standing in the virtual center of a vast river valley, and surrounded by and related to other mountains in the landscape system.

Criterion (iii): The rich concentration of material evidence for cult practices preserved on Sulaiman-Too mountain from pre- and post-Islamic times, together with its ‘ideal’ form present the most complete picture of a sacred mountain anywhere in Central Asia.

Criterion (vi): Sulaiman-Too presents exceptionally vivid evidence for strong traditions of mountain worship which have spanned several millennium and been absorbed successfully by Islam. It has had a profound effect over a wide part of Central Asia.

Integrity and Authenticity

The authenticity of the mountain, its cult places, uses and functions are without doubt, even given the numerous interventions over the past 50 years. However, since the sacred associations of the mountain are linked to its dramatic form rising from the surrounding plain, it is highly vulnerable to continuing new development on it and around its base. In order to protect its majesty, spirituality, visual coherence and setting and thus the full authenticity of the property, great vigilance will be needed in enforcing protection of its setting. The integrity of the mountain relies on protection of the cult places and their connecting paths as well as their visual linkages and views to and from the mountain.

Management and protection requirements

The management of the mountain and its setting is coordinated by a Site Management Council who oversees the implementation of the Management Plan and Action Plan. Its effective protection relies on approval of an agreed zoning arrangement within the Osh Master Plan. To protect the property and its buffer zone against modern developments during the period before the completion and final approval of the Legal Protection Zoning Document and the Osh Urban Master Plan, a map showing the agreed boundaries of the nominated area, of the buffer zone and its sub-zones have been distributed as a reference to the responsible agencies of the Osh oblast, Osh city, Karasu district and Kyzylkyshtak rural area.

Print Friendly