Day Trip To Yasaui's Birthplace

Sayram Travel Blog

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Ibragim Ata mausoleum

My last day staying in Shymkent I wanted to visit the nearby village of Sayram, birthplace of Yasaui and the site of several other attractions related to his life and Islam. A small bus departed from the Aina Bazaar heading to the adjacent village of 40,000 people. The center of town was a rather lively collection of shops including the bazaar. I picked one street from the central intersection and began walking. First I passed the Maryam Ana mausoleum, a relative of Yasaui's, then a few general mosques. I approached another area of the town with some stores and asked how to get to the mausoleum of Yasaui's father, Ibragim Ata.

Another mausoleum

From a bus stop nearby I hopped aboard a marshrutka with a woman who was going that way. It was a short ride to an intersection at the edge of the town, where I walked along 150 meters to the site. It was really a small mausoleum, but the grounds were bigger and it was clear that this was the site for pilgrims as well. Across the road from the mausoleum was a large mosque. Beyond the mausoleum was the road out of town and an escarpment that offered fine views of the desolate desert landscape and small mountains in the distance. As I was leaving, I stopped to look at a small kiosk selling prayer beads, charms and other Islamic articles and a man began talking to me, at first in Russian but eventually we switched to Uzbek. His name was Isali and he was very nice. We talked for several minutes and then he gave me a beautiful picture calendar featuring all the sites in Sayram.

City gates
He also told me that his son works in Astana in the Parliament and gave me his number in case I wanted to call him when I went there. I bought a few things from him, had the imam take our photo and I walked back to the bus stop to be taken back to the central intersection to pick another street to explore.

This time I chose the opposite street because several mosque-like buildings were visible. The first place was the mausoleum of Yasaui's mother, Karashash-Ana, and dates from the 13th century. Just beyond that was the central Friday mosque but it was not very old. Past another street was a cemetery and mausoleum for Mirali-Bobo, an Islamic scholar. I turned down the street I'd just passed and followed the old city walls and past a newly built mausoleum with a pristine robin's egg blue dome.

It appears to be the Leaning Tower of Sayram!
Across from this was another cemetery. Eventually I found the main road out of town and a small cafe where it was a good place to stop for lunch. It was so mild that I ate outside on the terrace and had a decent bowl of laghman before continuing on to the city gates and back to town. Unfortunately I didn't see a few other sites, such as the Abd al Aziz-Baba mausoleum but I did find the small and obscurely located Kydyra minaret adjacent to a schoolyard. I climbed the top for a view of the yard and what looked like ruins of a building. I did pass by another chapel-like mosque where a girl who looked like Bjork and appeared to be inebriated approached me for a photo. I was trying to get her address, but she didn't want to give it or didn't have one, and we were trying to find a way to get the picture to her when an elderly couple came in for evening prayer. The girl became quickly distracted and forgot about me so I ventured on through the bazaar and then caught a crowded marshrutka back to Shymkent. I really liked Sayram, with its quintessential village atmosphere and the fact that it had more mosques per square kilometer than any place I'd seen so far. It was a refreshing change from the big city and a little more authentic feeling than Turkistan, and with that the Yasaui family pilgrimage became complete.

 

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Ibragim Ata mausoleum
Ibragim Ata mausoleum
Another mausoleum
Another mausoleum
City gates
City gates
It appears to be the Leaning Tower…
It appears to be the Leaning Towe…
Sayram
photo by: Biedjee