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Visit to Shaitankol lake in Karkaraly park.

Trip and travels in Kazakhstan.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Trip from Karaganda to Aktobe.

Shaitankol ('devil's lake' in Kazakh) is the most popular lake of the area, despite the lack of recrea-tional opportunities - the water is too cold for most people to bathe in the lake - due its beauty and the ancient legend associated with it.
The legend tells about unhappy love (as a rule, this is the most popular plot of the stories concerning such places).  According to it, in olden days a very beautiful girl, Sulushash, (the daughter of a rich man, Tleuberdy, who possessed extensive lands), fell in love with a poor shepherd Altai.
Naturally, Tleuberdy did not ap-prove of their relationship and forbade them to see each other. So, the sweethearts decided to elope. Sulushash, Altai and Altai's faithful companion Kausar took shelter in the Karkaraly Mountains. 
The tragic ending of the legend tells how, when they reached lake Shaitankol, Altai and Kausar left the girl by the lakeside and set off hunting.  Kausar fell down from a cliff when chasing an argali and died.  In the meantime, Tleuberdy was in pursuit of the eloping couple - but having failed to find them in numerous caves and valleys, set the forest on fire. 
Panting from the smoke, Sulushash took to her heels and run into a tiger. In order to save herself from the beast's fangs, the girl jumped into the lake and died. Having heard his sweetheart's farewell cry, Altai ran to the lakeside.
But all he could see was her skull-cap (tyubeteika) which was waving in icy waters of Shaitankol. Without any hesitation he plunged a dagger into his chest. Despite this sad story, and the distance needed to travel to reach it, Shaitankol Lake is famous for its beauty, situated among rocky land-scape with pine-covered shores. 
The lake is 70 meters in length and 50 meters wide. Many people say that the place has a mysterious atmosphere pro-duced by murmur of the pine-trees and the steep rocks. This atmosphere is felt especially sharply by animals who often behave in an unusual way there (they are nervous, whimper, etc.).
Visitors rarely stay overnight here, and those who have plucked up their courage to do this tell stories about what happens at the lake at night. In 1905 a clergyman from Omsk, who was staying in Karkaralinsk, was asked to drive evil spirits out of the lake.
He consecrated lake to God, calling it Sacred, a cross was planted by the lakeside, along with a metal tablet asserting the fact and set into stone. However, not six months had passed before the cross and the tablet had disappeared (the rectangular frame of the table can still be seen on one of the rocks surrounding the lake).
The cross itself is believed to lie at the bottom of the lake. In the early 90s foreign scientists, who tried to sound the lake, and determined that it was 200 - 300 meters deep, but they could not reach the bottom. Some specialists believe that the lake is located in the crater of an extinct volcano.
Some people say that one must not bathe in the lake, whilst others believe that taking a bath in it can give a person a fund of cheerfulness and health that will stay with him for a long time. The branches of the trees surrounding the lake are covered with patches of cloth which people used to tie to the twigs for good luck.

 Advertising booklet of Karkaraly National Park, 2003.

Alexander Petrov.