of the caves provide evidence of early habitation by man in the region
such as cave paintings and archaeological finds of domestic implements.
Most notable are the caves of Chil Ustin, located
in the South, close to the village of Aravan and the Uzbek border, in
the limestone hills that make up the foothills of the Ak Bura and
Aravan river basins. The Chil Ustun cave system that is named after the
stalactites that can be found here, ("Chil Ustun" is Tajik and means
"40 columns"). There are other systems which riddle the hills around
here. The entrance to the main cave system, (which is 380 meters long),
is in the vertical southern slope of the mountain and this leads into
three spacious halls connected by narrow winding corridors. The
"Gothic" cupolas of the halls are propped up by many sparkling light
pink columns, which produce an impression of having been made by a
skillful craftsman. The third chamber is over 100 meters long, 20
meters high and at its widest point over 50 meters wide. From the
ceiling hang stone "chandeliers", the walls are covered with tinted
crystals, and numerous ancient drawings and inscriptions in a variety
of languages including Sanskrit. The crystals react by producing
different sounds when the wind blows or they are lightly touched. The
caves are thought to have curative properties.
Nearby there are many other caves, and although
they seem alike, each is actually unique. There are several dozen large
caves that are more than 100 meters long: Sasyk-Unkur (about 140 m.),
Suvli- Karnar (120 m), Chil-Mairam (130 m), Teshik-Tash (180 m),
Serpent (180 m), and Bosh-Unkur (100m).
To the south of Chil-Ustun is the Dangi Canyon,
which is dissected by the fierce torrents of the Aravan River. In the
canyon are a series of caves. The main one is Azhiadar-Unkur, on the
southern slope of Tuya-Muyun Mountain. This cave consists of a large
tunnel which goes more than 120 meters into the limestone mountain and
is notable for the fact that it is home to Kyrgyzstan's only colony of
bats. It is possible to hear their twittering and movement long before
you have approached their habitat.
hundred meters from Azhiadar-Unkur, on the same southern slope, is a
cavity 60 meters deep and which descends in impressive onyx steps. The
cave has two entrances: a natural entrance, in the form of a karst well
20 meters deep, and a man-made one, which provides easy access to the
lower, more beautiful section of the cave.
The Fersman cave consists of both natural and
man-made passages of various lengths. It is one of the deepest caves in
the Republic. The natural tunnel winds 240 meters down into the rock,
to reach a thermal lake.
The 450 meter long "Surprise" cave is on the right
side of the canyon. A small round opening in the wall of the canyon
leads to an underground gallery decorated with crystals and
The "Victorious" cave is 1200 meters long and lies
further to the East along the northern slope of Hoschan Mountain.
Barely visible, the crevice at the watershed of the range leads to a
maze of underground passages and cavities created by the rising flow of
thermal springs. Further to the south-east is Abshir waterfall which
emerges from a cave about 2 meters in diameter, and cascades over a