How Issyk-Kul was created (1)
Visiting Kyrgyzstan without seeing Lake Issyk-Kul is like going to the barber’s shop and forgetting to have your haircut. But how was Issyk-Kul formed? Yes, there are many eminent geologists who can give you no end of explanations as to the formation of Issyk-Kul, but what is the truth?
The creation of Issyk-Kul goes back to the time of Alexander the Great. Many people are surprised when they find out he reached Central Asia, but yes he did get here and enjoyed the walnuts, but that is a story for another time.
One of Alexander’s adversaries was a Persian called Rustem who was the ruler of Andijan and whose lands extended as far as the area around what is now Lake Issyk-Kul. Unfortunately Rustem and his army were no match for Alexander and his hordes. However, he did put on a good show and Alexander was much impressed.
As a last request Rustem asked that his body, those of his people who had been slain in battle and the remains of his ancestors be put somewhere where they would never be found and would stay inaccessible and undisturbed for all eternity.
Alexander moved inexorably eastwards and soon took over the lands around what was to become Lake Issyk-Kul. Being something of a decent chap Alexander decided to grant Rustem’s last wish. Following his conquest of the region a local girl had fallen in love with Alexander and she told him of a local well that was powerful enough to flood the whole valley if the lid was left off.
Upon Alexander’s instructions the bodies of Rustem and his followers were placed in the bottom of the valley. Alexander then removed the lid from the well and the whole valley was flooded ensuring that Rustem would lay undisturbed forever.
So next time you are up at Issyk-Kul and enjoying a quick swim and a lakeside picnic just think, Alexander the Great may have just been there before you.