Disappointing ancient ruins
Otrar Travel Blog› entry 332 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia), Hannes (Sweden)
The three of us were awake before 08.00, giving the old man on reception no excuse to hassle us today. Clearly he was dissatisfied with this, so instead set a 4 minute time allowance on the shower! The Communists have a lot to answer for. After checking out, we left our bags in the front hall of the hotel and went out for breakfast.
Once we had eaten, Julia bargained with a taxi diver to take us to the ancient ruins of Otrar, located 70km's away. The previous day we had been quoted anything up to 8,000 Tengge ($67), so we were reasonably happy to settle on 3,000 Tengge ($25) today. Our taxi was a very funky Soviet car, the Zhiguli, which was driven by an equally interesting looking driver.
The journey took us over a barren landscape and we came across 2 herds of wild camels, although i didn't want to get too close after the recent vomiting incident! We passed the Arystan-bab Mausoleum, which had yurts set up outside, but settled on just having a fleeting glimpse from the roadside.
Otrar has an impressive History, having come under attack from both Jenghiz Khan and Timur. Well when i say come under attack, i mean it was razed to the ground and all of its citizens were butchered. It is claimed that had Otrar's governor not murdered the Mongol traders that had been sent here, Jenghiz Khan may not have begun his rampage throughout Central Asia and even Europe.
In 1219 Otrar actually withstood 12 attacks from the Mongol forces, before eventually capitulating, after been betrayed by one of their own citizens. Timur had less problems when he sacked the town in 1376 and it wasn't until the 16th Century that the area came under Kazakh rule.
All that is left today is a large mound upon which sits some poorly reconstructed brick walls. Without any direct interest in the site, it really isn't something that you would want to go out of your way to see.
What also captured my attention was the wildlife, which included some very pretty grasshoppers and a gopher, which kept popping up from holes, scurrying across to another and descending down again. After an hour we were all a little bit bored, so wandered back to our waiting Zhiguli, parked out in the baking midday sun. An hour later and we were back in Turkistan, where we had some lunch, collected our bags and caught a marshrutka (minivan) to Shymkent.