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Zhylagan ata valley.

Alternative Kazakhstan tours.

"Drop by drop - lake, no drops - desert"

Turkmen proverb.

Travel to Syrdarya Karatau mountains from Turkestan.

Zhilagan ata valley is located at an altitude of 1242 to 1412 meters above sea level, located 30.5 kilometers (in a straight line) northwest of the village of Karnak, 54.5 kilometers north of the town of Turkestan, on the southern slope of the Syrdarya Karatau ridge in the Otrar district of the Turkestan region.
The distance from the village of Kumailikas (territorially owned by the city administration of Turkestan) to the car park, from where the trail begins in the Zhilagan ata valley to the cave and holy springs, is 46 kilometers.
The car park at the Zhilagan ata spring is located at an altitude of 1268 meters above sea level, from here it is necessary to go down the left side of the picturesque gorge 2 kilometers to the north-west. The trail is comfortable without sharp changes in height, leads to two one-story buildings and a shed, located at an altitude of 1033 meters above sea level, on the left bank of the Zhilagan ata river.
Shirakshi has been here since the beginning of April, who keeps order and provides the necessary pilgrims. From the lower adobe house, for about 100 meters, a path was laid along the left bank of the rivers to the springs that flow from the crevices and cracks of the left-bank rock.
Two solid pedestrian bridges were built to cross the river. The sources of the Zhilagan ata river, 20.2 kilometers long, are located on the southern slope of the Syrdarya Karatau ridge at an altitude of 1460 meters above sea level between the valleys of Zhilagan ata and Katparsak.
The river originates from springs. 3 kilometers after the sources, the tributary Surai-Aryk, 3 kilometers long, flows into Zhilagan-ata on the left. After 7 kilometers after the sources, an unnamed tributary flows into the river on the right, after 8.6 kilometers the tributary Kazan-Bazar with a length of 10.2 kilometers flows into the right.
The origins of the Kazan-Bazar River are located north of the Katparsak tract on the northwestern slope of Mount Akuyiya. At the 19th kilometer on the right, the Bozbutan tributary, which is kilometers long, flows into Zhilagan Ata.
Bozbutan River originates on the southern slope of the Syrdarya Karatau ridge on the southern slope of Mount Tegistyk, 1443.8 meters high above sea level. In the upper reaches of the river is called - Kostogai. Kostagai flows between the Aktuyen-Ulagan and Karatainsha mountains, bypassing the latter the river gets the name Bozbutan.
At 20.2 kilometers after the sources, Zhilagan Ata receives a tributary of Kogashik with a length of 6.9 kilometers on the right. Kogashik receives its sources from springs at an altitude of 702.6 meters above sea  level, south of the tract of the same name. After this tributary, the river gets the name Aktobe.
From this place on the western slope, at a height of about 15 meters, there is an entrance to a small grotto. The height of the opening of the grotto is 3 - 4 meters, the width is 8 - 9 meters, the length is about 20 meters. The grotto was formed as a result of displacement of rocks.
Here is how Nelya Sadykova, a journalist for "Karavan" newspaper, describes her visit to holy place:
Having hardly left their backpacks in a squat hut, several women walked towards the river. As the guide said, there is a “jacuzzi” upstream - a depression in the riverbed lined with stones. It is useful for everyone to swim there in order to get rid of ailments.
This icy river originates from springs. Every grain of sand is visible through the crystal waters at the bottom. On round boulders we make our way upstream. In a small space, several people are already sitting on the rubble of rocks. Looking at a dry crevice in a sheer rock, people read prayers.
Everyone seemed to freeze in anticipation of a miracle. And suddenly the surrounding space explodes with the joyful cry of a woman: “Kelds, kelds! I've come, I've come!" A stormy stream of the freshest water suddenly burst out of the rock with a noise, scattering around a thousand sparkling splashes!
Delight has no limits! Right in their clothes, people rushed under the icy jets, exposing their heads, laughing, rejoicing, like children, greedily drinking precious moisture. This accomplished miracle for them is like a sign that prayers have been heard and the Almighty sends them what they ask for.
Someone prayed for family well-being, someone asked for a child, someone for a cure for serious ailments ... Water comes to the prayers of some in a matter of minutes, while someone has to wait for it for days.”
legend of Zhilagan ata.
The legend says: the elderly spouses Gurzykhan-ata and Shash-ana lived here. They never had children. And they turned to the Almighty with a request to send a child to console them in old age. Having heard the prayer, Allah set a condition for the spouses: to carry the mother of her long-awaited child in a leather bag for seven years until he gets on his feet.
For a long time an elderly woman carried a heavy burden. Unable to stand it, she once prayed, they say, such a test is beyond my power! At the same moment, the unborn baby fluttered like an angel, and began to quickly move away with the words:
“You did not endure just one day before my birth, and now I am leaving you forever.” He retired into the crevices of the rocks and disappeared into a cave at the top of the mountain. The father of the unborn baby sat down, heartbroken, sobbing bitterly and inconsolably.
At that place a waterfall arose from his tears. And the rocks on the opposite bank of the river were crying, where the poor mother shed tears. Departing, the angel said to both: “Returning to the village, do not look back, then the spring will bring its pure waters to the people living there.”
But Shashana could not stand it and looked at the departing angel for the last time. And the waters disappeared in that place, never reaching the village. P.S. So far, none of the scientists has managed to unravel the mystery of a waterfall that appears out of nowhere and disappears into nowhere. But to people who come to him, he always gives hope.
Geographic coordinates of Zhylagan ata valley: N43 ° 50'40.59 "E68 ° 21'14.24"

Nelya Sadykova.
Alexander Petrov.

Photos by
Alexander Petrov.