Aysha-Bibi & Babazha-Katun Mausoleums

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In Aysha-Bibi village, 16km west of Taraz, are the tombs of two 11th- or 12th-century women, legendary protagonists of a local Romeo and Juliet tale. The Aysha-Bibi Mausoleum, though heavily restored in 2000–2002, is probably the only authentically old building around Taraz. Made of delicate terracotta bricks in more than 50 different motifs forming lovely patterns, the building looks almost weightless.

Shymkent-bound minibuses will drop you in the village, along the main road; the mausoleums are 300m (signposted) south.

The story goes that Aysha, daughter of a famed scholar, fell in love with Karakhan, lord of Taraz, but Aysha’s father forbade them to marry. The lovers swore a secret pact and Aysha eventually set off for Taraz with her companion Babazha-Khatun. Aysha collapsed from exhaustion/sickness/snake bite; Babazha-Khatun rushed to Karakhan, who raced to his beloved just in time to marry her before she expired. Karakhan had her tomb built on the spot, later adding Babazha-Khatun's mausoleum, with its unusual pointed, fluted roof (this building was totally rebuilt in 2000–2002).

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