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Baysun

In the south of Uzbekistan, in the Surkhandarya region, in the seemingly unfriendly Baysuntau mountains, there is a small town Baysun, a city where time flows differently. This is an amazing land in the Gissar Range. At first, pagans lived here, worshiping gods. The Greek culture replaced them when Alexander the Great invaded the territory. Buddhism flourished here thanks to the influence of India and China. In the 13th century, the Mongols of Genghis Khan came, devastating everything in their path. Every nation brought its legends, traditions, and religion, and the city mixed them and wrote its unique fairy tale.

Baysun is a perfect place for travelers in Uzbekistan who want to know the mystery of the East away from the city noise. The main monuments of these places are considered to be the customs and traditions that have been preserved by residents. They remember pagan rites that were considered long forgotten. No wonder that in 2008 UNESCO included Baysun into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Every street, every house in the city is an open-air museum. People who live in Baysun still independently manage the farm, engage in crafts, graze animals, and cultivate the land without modern equipment. It proves that people are the main asset of any country, a guarantee of the preservation of its uniqueness and culture. However, Baysun is not famous only for its life. The whole region is a historical monument. In the vicinity of the city, each mountain or village has its history. Each tourist will find in Baysun something special for himself.

The tour to Baysun usually begins from the small village of Darbant, which got its name from the Dara-band gorge, which translates from Tajik as “Closed-door”. The gorge was part of the fortifications, which served as protection against threats from both the east and the west. According to the legend, Amir Timur blocked the gorge with giant steel doors that showed the power of the empire. A road passes through Dara-gang, and the gorge is so large that it has its sights. For example, the Zindan cave (Dungeon), used as a prison, or Kaptarhona (Dovecote), where, according to the beliefs of residents, thousands of pigeons live. Also, driving along the gorge, you can visit Khuzhamoy – a stormy spring spurting from a rock. There is a legend related to this spring: the old man Huzhama-ota, being the head of the village, was looking for salvation from drought, and in a dream, he was given the divine vision of a huge spring among stones. Waking up, Khuzhamoy-ota hastened to a place from his dream, but did not find water there, and then, annoyed, he struck the rock with his staff, cracked the stone, and spilled a spring from the fault, which watered the village. 

From the Dara-band gorge, we are met by the village of Machai, named after the river nearby. Machai is primarily known for the archaeological excavations that began from here and led to the Teshik-tash cave (Leaky Stone), where Neanderthals were stationed for a long time. In addition to primitive tools, cave paintings were found, and the most amazing find is the burial of a Neanderthal girl. The burial was carried out following a certain ritual, which testified to the fact that primitive people had their own culture, worldview, and, possibly, their religion. Teshik-tash was of sacred significance before the arrival of archaeologists. The fact is that there is a stone with a through-hole, which has fantastic healing properties and is very revered by the locals.

In the north-west of the Baysun region, there is Omonkhona, a healing water source whose water is saturated with minerals and has a beneficial effect on the body. A sanatorium has been built and conditions have been created for the relaxation of local and foreign travelers. There is a legend associated with Omonkhon: the healing water was discovered by Alexander the Great. When the Greek army passed through these lands, Alexander with a heavy heart left the dying soldiers in the cool gorge near the spring and he did not hope to see them again. However, when the Greeks returned and passed the spring, the recovered soldiers came out to meet them, healed by wonderful water.

Tourists who came to Uzbekistan for the most active recreation and mountaineering can also find a lot of interesting things in the Baysuntau mountains. Many gorges, and spacious caves, as well as mountains. For example, the peak of Gur-Gur-ota is about 4 kilometers high. It is called the “Edge of the World” since one of its sides is a half-kilometer cliff. The lake Raushan is hidden among the Baysuntau mountains. Nothing is known about this lake. It is worth paying attention to the peaks: Kushtang, Suvsiztag, Sarymas, and others.

It is difficult to imagine what the Baysun Mountains are kept. They say that Tamerlane’s treasures are hidden in one of the caves, and Marco Polo with his caravan was hiding from the robbers in another. Of particular interest are the Greek fortress of Kurganzol and the remnants of pagan symbolism. More than one day can be spent to get there and touch the mysterious past since the road is very difficult for a lone unprepared traveler.