The Legend of Issyk-Kul

Kyrgyz people retell many legends about the Issyk-Kul lake, how it was formed or what is near the shores of the lake. Some legends say that Tamerlane’s (Amir Timur) soldiers placed a stone every time they marched past Issyk-Kul and thus a count of the warriors was carried out. Another legend says that Genghis Khan is buried on the shores of the lake, although the great Mongolian warriors' burial location is not officially known.

There is also another famous Kyrgyz legend about tragic love and Issyk-Kul lake. It is as follows: once upon a time, there was a city nearby lake Issyk-Kul. A powerful khan ruled the city and built his own fortress there. He was told one of the nomads had a daughter of incomparable beauty. The khan sent his soldiers to bring the girl to him. However, the girl loved a common shepherd, so she rejected khan’s offer. The girl escaped from the city but then she was captured by the khan’s soldiers. The khan imprisoned her in the fortress and tried various means to possess her, but only failed. She preferred to kill herself rather than be khan’s captive. She threw herself out from the dungeon window. As a punishment for the girl’s death the walls shook, the earth split and water came out of a crevice washing away the fortress and the whole city. It poured out until the whole valley disappeared under the lake. And this is how Issyk-Kul was created.

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