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Ak-Mosque cave.

Speleological tours on caves of Southern Kazakhstan.

"It is blissful who believes, warmly to it on light!"

Griboyedov Alexander Sergeyevich.

Walk in cave Ak-Mosque.

The ways of approaching it are simple. From Shymkent 80 km by bus, then 11 km walk to the north-east to the cattle farm on the bank of the river Ulken-Bugun. From the farm - up the canyon along a weakly visible path.
Then the canyon narrows. At an altitude of about 25 m from the bottom of the canyon, to the right, there are clear signs of a large hole - this is the entrance to the cave. Sports development of the cave, called Aulie (Sacred), local speleologists began in 1965.
The cave begins with a 10-meter vertical slope. The opening picture immediately strikes. It’s a huge underground hall with tall dark arches, stretching at least a hundred meters at first sight. Through the large entrance the light penetrates into the all corners of the dungeon  and they all are slightly visible.
The dome of the hall is almost 30 m high, large drops of water occasionally fall from it. The total length of the hall is 150 m, width 65 m. It is damp and cold inside - In May thermometer showed only 10C, while on the surface the air temperature was 24C.
You can imagine the million-year history of this cave. It wasn’t seen from the surface until its arch collapsed forming a wide entrance. Even now at the bottom of the cave the lumps of collapsed rock are seen almost entirely covered with soil.
The soil turned out to be fertile: grass and even trees grew on it. The cave’s grove counts up to 40 mulberry trees, from the largest to the smallest. The Ak-Mosque cave has its own legend - according to the stories of the local caretaker - in the old days it was a large underground mosque, which was one of the important places of worship in Southern Kazakhstan.
Inside of the mosque there were underground passages in width of 2 wagons, connecting large surrounding fortresses. Over time, due to the movement of lithospheric plates, underground passages flooded and the mosque was emptied.
From generation to generation, a legend was passed about the existence of this place on the Kazakh land. There were no external entrances to the mosque, no one knew where it was. At the beginning of the 20th century, a part of the dome collapsed, and a hole appeared on the terrain.
The name of this place nowadays is the Holy White Mosque or simply Ak-Mosque. The entrance to the dungeon was equipped with stairs and now pilgrims come here to pray for themselves and their loved ones.
The cave can be reached on the new road that leads to the house of "shirakshi" - the cave caretaker. The caretaker lives next to the cave and takes pilgrims there. He will gladly tell you the legends about the cave and pray for you.
No matter what kind of faith you are, everyone is welcome here.

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From different authority:
Short encyclopedia Kazakh SSR, volume 2, Nature, Alma-Ata, 1990. Zhaparkhanov S. Zh.

Photos:
Alexander Petrov.