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Beket-ata mosque.

The Silk Road Tours to Mangistau.

"Yes friends, hear my covenant.
On that I went underground at sixty-three.
When I ascended, my spirit looked around the Prophet.
On that I went underground at sixty-three”

Hikmets of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi.

Itineraries in Kazakhstan.

The underground mosque of Beket-ata was built near the old well on one of the ancient routes of nomadic migrations and the movement of trade caravans in the Karakiy district of the Mangistau region on the eastern part of the Western Cliff of the Ustyurt plateau.
Distances to the Beket-ata mosque:
Aktau - Beket Ata Mosque - 284 km
Zhanaozen - Beket Ata Mosque - 134 k
Shopan-ata Mosque - Beket-ata Mosque - 69 km.
The mosque is an artificial multi-chamber cave, located in the chalk outcrops of rock. The mosque was cut down in the middle tier of a high rock, ledges descending into a deep hollow, densely overgrown with shrubs. Narrow and steep steps lead to a small platform arranged in front of the entrance to the venue.
At the entrance to the mosque, oriented to the southwest, recently by a local resident Mishzhasar Vekteleuov, who is considered to be a descendant of Beket-ata in the sixth tribe, a well was built. The mosque consists of six chambers.
The main room of the mosque is round in plan, with a diameter of about 4.5 meters. The ceiling has the shape of a flat dome. On the whole, the interior imitates a Kazakh yurt. Judging by the presence of a mikhrab niche on the southwest wall, this is a prayer hall.
Narrow and steep steps lead to a small platform arranged in front of the entrance to the mosque. The rock section in which the entrance aperture - the manhole is cut down is strengthened by the retaining wall. The first room is the lobby, which is lit by a deep skylight, punched in the center of the domed ceiling.
A wooden pole is installed here. On the west side of the lobby there is a prayer hall with a mihrab in the south wall, and on the southeast side there are two rooms, in one of them Beket-ata himself is buried. On the west side there is a semicircular room adjoining it, in which, behind the corner pylons, the floor level is raised like a sufa.
Obviously, this room was intended for the rest of pilgrims. On the north side, the hall is connected by a wide passage with a third room, not inferior to it in size. The purpose of this room is not entirely clear. It could be either an additional area of ​​the prayer hall or a warehouse.
Usually, on the way of the nomad from Mangyshlak to Emba river, underground warehouses were arranged for storing bulky things. The narrow doorway of this room connects it with another - the fourth, adjacent to it on the east side.
The walls and ceiling of the latter collapsed, fragments of tombstones were found on the floor. The walls of all rooms of the mosque are smoothly trimmed and have no traces of decorative design, with the exception of shallow niches for lamps.
The first room is the lobby, lit by a deep skylight, punched in the center of the domed ceiling. On the west side of the lobby there is a prayer hall with a mkihrab on the south wall, and on the southeast side there are two enfilades, located, apparently, residential.
All of them in the plan have the shape of a wrong circle. Their height ranges from 2.7 to 3.5 m. Walls with several flat niches for fixtures are smoothly trimmed. The floors are aligned in two rooms. The strengthening of the entrance part of the retaining wall and the deep laying of the premises ensured the safety of this mosque, unlike other underground mosques.
The neat contents show that the local population protects this monument. According to folk legends and written sources, Beket-ata lived in the second half of the 18th century, studied at a Khiva madrasah in his youth, reached forty years old, became a Sufi and began to teach children Muslim literacy.
He was notable for his strong power and in the battles with Kalmyks he made many deeds. In resolving contentious issues with the Turkmen, he showed wisdom that led both sides to agreement. He lived to an advanced age, died around 1813.
He was buried in the of Ogland near the underground mosque he built.
Four underground mosques were built in the places of seasonal pastures of Beket-ata:
Beket-ata Mosque, 284 km east of the city of Aktau in the Karakiy district, Mangistau region,
Old Beineu Mosque, 21 kilometers south of Beineu, Beineu district of Mangistau region,
Ak-mosque, 60 northeast of the city of Kulsary, in the Zhylyoi district of Atyrau region,
on Emba, Ustyurt, near the Aral Sea.
This place is a Muslim shrine of the Kazakh people associated with the name of Becket-ata and is especially revered by the inhabitants of Western Kazakhstan. The mosque is located in a beautiful natural landscape. Despite the inaccessibility, it still remains a place of mass pilgrimage.
In 1999 - 2000 Mangistaurestoration specialists carried out restoration work. Roofs and walls were reinforced. In front of the entrance was built a platform of stone - shell rock, narrow and steep steps were landscaped, benches were set in places.
Around the sources built platforms with benches. Local geologist Bazarbay Abdrakhmanov has long been trying to prove that the scientific basis has laid the foundation for the construction of an underground mosque. Here is what he writes about the fact that Beket-ata, who built this mosque, was a man of vision and comprehensively educated.
“With all my heart I am amazed at how much effort, how much knowledge and skills it took to build the underground mosque of Beket-ata. Firstly, no matter how many people are simultaneously in the mosque, the sounds of prayers and spells are equally well heard in all rooms.
In modern language, the laws of acoustics are fully taken into account. Acoustics is one of the main branches of physics. According to some evidence, with a significant crowd of people (500 - 600 people) on the site in front of the entrance, the voice of an imam reading a Friday prayer, or a five-fold prayer read together, was heard by everyone.
Secondly, at any time of the year inside the air humidity does not exceed sanitary and hygienic standards. With an increase in air humidity, this would certainly lead to the spread of pulmonary diseases. The third feature here is how all the macro- and microcracks present in the mountain were used when cutting rocks to equip the premises.
Even with the door and tundika open (here the upper light hole), there are no drafts in the room. Fourth, the mihrab of the mosque, when compared with a modern topographic map, is located on the side of Mecca.
But the door goes to the geographical east and in the exact direction to the necropolis of Ogland, as if defining the words: "Ogland is my east, my beginning." The underground mosque Becket ata (Oglandy) in 1982 was adopted by the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR for state registration and protection of local significance, and in 2000, by a decision of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as amended, it was transferred from local to republican.

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Authority:
The guidebook across Kazakhstan. The edition of the ministry of tourism and sports. The guidebook across Kazakhstan . Authors Dagmar Schreiber and Jeremy Tredinnick.   Publishing house "Odyssey".2010.

Alexander Petrov
photos.