Here, the Tash Rabat caravanserai bears solitary witness to these extraordinary feats of blood, sweat and bravery. The current structure dates to the 15th century although the said is said to have been occupied since the 10th. Extraordinarily atmospheric, the valley now welcomes a new wave of visitors – tourists – but still echoes to the ghostly footsteps of Silk Road traders.
From here, important trails ran west through Osh to Samarkand and beyond, while minor routes swung to modern-day Kazakhstan and Russia. In their wake sprang up a string of oasis towns – Bukhara, Khiva, Merv – whose domes and minarets shimmered with gold and turquoise. Trading routes and relations forged in these vibrant earlier centuries waxed and waned until the area was isolated under the Russians in mid-1800s.
Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city was always a crossroad trading centre. heralded as a charmed and cultured place, rich in fruit and nut forests, it flourished during the heyday of the Silk Road Its courts, palaces and academies were razed in the 13th century by Jenghis Khan, but the pulse of 3000 years of trade can still be felt in its vibrant bazaars.
Tangible evidence of Central Asia’s medieval glory stands at Ozgon, known as Yu in Silk Road times, Ozgon reached its pinnacle as Mavarannahr, capital of the Karakhanid Dynasty which brought Islam to the Kyrgyz in the 10th century. here, three mausoleums and a minaret, all exquisitely carved in terracotta, are the lone relics of this sophisticated ancient epoch.