Ethnographic Wonders of Ayry-Baba

29 October 2021

Rocks, wind, snow, low temperatures and oxygen deficiency make the mountain peaks difficult to reach. But despite this, people have been striving to conquer them since ancient times. Is this why mountain peaks are revered as places of patience and endurance, spirituality and holiness? For example, Mount Kailash in India, Mount Fuji, Mount Sulaiman-Too in Kyrgyzstan, Mount Khan Tengri in Tianshan on the border of three states, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China, and Mount Ararat that Armenia and Turkey associate with their culture. Likewise, the top of the Koytendag ridge – Mount Ayry-baba is not only the highest point of those mountains and Turkmenistan (3,139 metres above sea level), but is also is a sanctuary revered by local people.

When approaching the Koytendag Mountains, the summit can be seen for hundreds of kilometres away. It can be seen in snow and cumulus clouds, in fogs and under a bright sun, in any weather. Its majesty is so attractive that you cannot take your eyes off. In winter, those places are covered with snow, some niches have the ice cover ten metres thick. In summer, standing on the summit, you can admire goats and mountain rams grazing in the mountain meadows and watch the birds of prey soaring at lower altitudes. In early spring, and sometimes even in February, the rare Crocus korolkowii blooms there at the edge of the melting snow. Though there are peaks which are higher than Ayry-baba, but it takes much effort to reach it and not many daredevils dare to make such a journey. In winter, mountaineers come there to test their fortitude. Pilgrims arrive and tourists from among nature lovers venture into those places in summer, when the snow melts.

Shaniyaz MENLIYEV,
the Head at the Research Department, Koytendag State Natural Reserve, Environment Protection Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan. Photo: the author
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