Located at the south shore of Issyk Kul Tamga gorge is well known for its Tibetian stone called “Tamga-Tash”. Tamga is latter and Tash is stone from the Kyrgyz language. The Tamga gorge offers spectacular views of Issyk Kul lake and snow-capped mountains surrounding the lake. ‘
The Tamga River gorge lies just west of the village. One can reach the river heading south from the sanatorium along a dirt road that passes an impressive Kyrgyz graveyard standing on a ridge opposite an electricity transmission station.
Tamga Tash is an ancient rock carved with Tibetan Buddhist inscriptions. Perfectly preserved inscriptions on the stones are the Buddhist prayer that dates to the 8-9th BC centuries. The stones are located high above the Tamga River, about 6 km from the center of the village, and are quite challenging to find without the local’s help.
The stone is partially split into two, which local legends tell is due to the result of a strike from the sword of Manas. The trees close to the stone are decorated with pieces of cloth in the same way they would be at any Muslim shrine in the region but this time they are also about the Buddhist religion prayers. There are said to be also more but smaller Buddhist stones nearby in the gorge.
The inscription on the rock’s northern face is still clear and reads “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Difficult to translate, this 1500-year-old mantra expresses the desire for all to reach civilization. The core of its meaning is sometimes expressed as ‘Behold! The jewel in the lotus!’. This mantra is still chanted by Tibetan Buddhists and can be seen in carvings and on flags all over Tibet. Search for the lotus flowers at the rock’s top westerly perimeter.
Tamga village lies just right next to Tamga River, where live predominantly Russian people, unlike other typical villages in Kyrgyzstan. Russian residents have built earlier wooden houses which still stand around. The village is a quiet, pleasant place, with a sanatorium, lush orchards dripping with apricots in summer. Right next to Tamga village stands another village Barskoon with largely Kyrgyz residents. Both those villages are located along Issikul’s south beach and are accessible to the shoreline.
The village has just two large streets: the one that leads to the main road and the beach, past orchards and a silver statue of a grim-faced soldier with a machine gun and the main street, Issyk-Kulskaya, that has the village’s shops from recycled railway wagons and the sanatorium and bazaar at its western end.
Tamga village also has a beach and an area for camping near the Issyk Kul shoreline and can be reached within 15 minutes walk across the main road going to Karakol. The common sandy beach lies in front of a muddy tree-covered area that is home to a large mosquito population. So don’t forget to get insect repellent if you are choosing to bathe in the lake here. Due to its several accommodation options, Tamga is a good choice for a relaxing stay at the southern shore.
Page updated: 5.3.2021