I was to find out later on what it was all about. At first it was just one of the attractions on my list while in Kyrgyzstan. A hill rather than a mountain with a rocky ridge and some caves. That’s how it looked like front the distance.
Without knowing much about it, I left my hotel with the objective in sight. After all it can be seen from miles. Osh is not your European city full of attractions to fill up your day. Here one discovers the local culture and explores the Bazar. It is nevertheless the second largest settlement of the country and an important economic centre. Sulaiman-Too was at its core, dominating the Fergana Valley at a crossroad of important routes on the Central Asia Silk Roads. It was a place of rest, prayer and worship. Towered by five central peaks and multiple caves where petroglyphs can still be seen today. It also hosts two mosques reconstructed in the 16th century. It is believed to be one of the most important places in Central Asia containing many cult sites where people would come to be healed for various diseases.
If people believed to be sacred, then it was. And pilgrims would stop here for rest on their journey. And so did I on my way back home from ascending Lenin Peak. Good weather is mandatory if you want to enjoy the view over the city from the top. But also some of the paths going up and to the caves are not paved and I can see them muddy with the first rain. There are several entrances and there is a fee to pay of 20 Som ( less than half a quid). Around the mountain, which perhaps sounded better than hill from marketing purposes, there are a few ruins, sculptures and a graveyard. There is also the Kyrghyz museum but apart from a few old photos and some rocks is not much too see and not worth the entrance fee unless architecture from the communist period interests you. Just a few minutes away, Mausoleum Asaf ibn Burhiy, the grave of King Solomon, raises much more interest. Surprisingly, a new building, carved into the mountain, ruins the charm of the Sacred Mountain. A new museum to promote and attract visitors. After a peak inside, I made the decision not to pay the 150 Som entrance and continued my journey.
At the top, another small mosque invites muslims to pray. I instead admire the view. A surprisingly big green city with the horizon line towered by snowy peaks. Descending towards the big mosque I deviate from the path to explore some of the caves. A small kid carrying a huge sac is picking up the plastic bottles left behind by visitors in an effort to make some money.
As the sun sets, I make my way back to the city to meet some of the new friends I made while climbing. It was an interesting cultural experience and is worth the visit if you’re ever in Osh.