The Lonely Caravanserai at Tash Rabat
This photo essay by Christopher Wilton-Steer is cross-posted from his website.
In a remote valley of Naryn province in eastern Kyrgyzstan, not far from the border with China, you can find the remains of a 15th century caravanserai called Tash Rabat.
Caravanserai were where travellers and traders would rest, recuperate, wash, pray, tend to their horses and camels, share news and gossip before continuing along the old Silk Road; the network of trading routes that connected China to the Roman Empire from the 2nd century BC to around the 1500s.
What makes this caravanserai unique is how isolated it is. Usually, caravanserai were built at 30km intervals – a day’s journey – but Tash Rabat is in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town, Naryn, is 115km away; a 2.5 hour drive. Perhaps there were other caravanserai on the way that have since disappeared.
For travellers from China, Tash Rabat would have provided an opportunity to rest after crossing the treacherous Torugart Pass before taking on the next leg of the journey through the Tian Shan Mountains.
Today, Tash Rabat is a popular destination for tourists. Caretakers and their horses live in the nearby yurts. If you have the time, it is well worth a visit.