aravan

Aravan Town

Aravan is a town in the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley of Osh district located about 23 km west of Osh. The town is a predominantly ethnic-Uzbek district center with a population of about 20 000 people. Surrounded by agricultural land, Aravan is located just 5 km in the border with Uzbekistan

There is a nice small bazaar at the center of the town and there is a beautifully built wooden mosque hidden in the middle of the bazar. According to the style it has been built, we assume that it is from the 19th century. Men can also go to check the insides of the mosque.

mosque in Aravan bazar
Aravan bazar has delicious piroshki

There are some tasty samosas and other baked delicacies served inside the bazaar together with all the usual Chinese and Turkish clothes with some local things as well. Otherwise, the town is a small Soviet-built, Fergana valley town with rather large war memorabilia in the town center.

the celestial horses of aravan

The Celestian Horses of Aravan is a petroglyph site that had an important role in the regional folklore and has become a pilgrimage site for Muslims in the Fergana Valley about 30 km West from Osh

The rock carvings are believed to date back to the 1st century AD. “Celestial” or “Heavenly” Horses of Ferghana were admired by the Chinese of the Han dynasty at the time of Wi-Ti ruthless emperor so much that is was one of the main reasons for the Chinese to reach out and conquer the Fergana valley. Petroglyphs can be seen with a little patience, several meters high on the south-facing cliff face just outside of the town of Aravan, next to a mosque and a small shrine.

The site is not very well established but there is at least one person who can tell more about the legends and stories related to the site but only in Kyrgyz. 

One of the legends is related to a rock on the ground that has some small holes in it. The legend tells that the holes are from two extremely strong men arm wrestling and that the holes were left from the their elbows touching the rock during the battle. There are also small caverns between the rocks next to the cliff where local people sometimes come to make offerings and to pray by the self made small altars. 

The picture on the rights from the Tashkent Historical Museum exhibition “Rock paintings with images of horses (second part of the first millennium BC). Aravan, Aytimach-tau. Fergana Valley”

Aravan horse images in Tashkent museum

The site was excavated twice in the 20th century and evidence of animal sacrifices has been found at the cliff base below the carvings.

Currently, there is a small Sufi shrine at the site and a shelter for visitors. The carvings and the nearby spring are considered holy to local Muslims and it should be recognized that this is an essential religious site rather than just one archaeological interest to tourists. It is important that one should dress accordingly and behave in an appropriately polite manner while visiting the site. In the same area, you can also find the Chil-Ustun caves.

How to get to
the Celestial horses of Aravan petroglyph site

The cliff-face can be reached through a green gate on the main road East of the local hospital on the outskirts of the town, just next to the large hill. on the East side of the town. The gate has a sign above where it is written “Dull-Dull at Ziyarit Zhai”, meaning “to the Sufi shrine found within”. 

 

A path leads from a fairly new small mosque, next to a Russian Orthodox and Soviet cemetery on the left and then crosses a stream and arrives to the base of a cliff where there is a pilgrims’ shelter on the left and the small shrine of a Sufi sheik on the right. The petroglyphs are rather hard to see, high on the cliff above, and slightly to the left of, the shrine, they’re about three-quarters of the way up, just above the top branches of a willow tree. 

 

From Osh, there are regular shared taxis to Aravan available daily. They leave from the bus stand on Alisher Navoi, just west of the junction with Kurmanjan Datka statue. The road to Aravan follows the Uzbekistan border so closely that the recently erected Uzbek watchtowers and barbed wire can be seen at the roadside.  Approaching Aravan, you need to get off at the hospital, the green gateway is just before the right turn to the hospital and a garage on the left-hand side of the road. Marshrutkas also run to Aravan and further from the Old Bus Station in Osh. 

 

Lenin head in the mountain, Aravan
Dul dul Ata holy place in Aravan

House in the rock (Dom V Skale)

On the way from Osh you can also stop by an odd house built along the hill. It is built in Chinese style and is called the house in the rock (dom v skale). Locals told that it is built by a retired professor and it does not have any purpose at the moment. The gates to the house are closed but the locals let us pass through their own yards to have a peek inside this peculiar building.

Sights near Celestial Horses of Aravan

Page updated 19.4.2020

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