Info Shymkent - Entrance to Arystan Bab site

The story of the mystic Arystan Bab

Info Shymkent went close to Otrar to visit a unique Mausoleum to learn more about the story of Arystan Bab – a mystic person of Central Asia.

A mini bus with destination in the village Shaulder we caught in Shymkent on a early morning in August. After a 45 min drive on the new silkroad and motorway E38 we went left and drove another hour along the green fields of the Arys river. When we arrived in the village Shaulder we had driven already around 145 kilometers – but we just had to take another taxi and a 10 minute drive to reach or final destination – the Arystan Bab Mausoleum.

We just paid a small entrance fee and entered through a gate the historical site and walked down a wonderful alley with small green trees. The Mausoleum of Arystan Bab with its yellow brick stones was already visible to the left.

Info Shymkent - Arystan Bab Mausoleum
Mausoleum of Arystan Bab is popular pilgrimage site in Central Asia.

But who was Arystan Bab? There is a fantastic legend about him. The story is telling that he was a follower of Prophet Mohammed. One day Prophet Mohammed ate dates with his disciples. But one date fell from the bowl again and again, and the Prophet heard an inner voice: “This date is for Ahmed, a Muslim boy who will be born 400 years after you.” So Prophet Mohammed asked his disciples who would deliver the date. But nobody answered. So he asked the question again. This time Arystan Bab (Lion teacher) – also known with the name Salmani Fars – react and answered: “Ask Allah for 400 years for me and I will deliver the date to this boy.” He took the date and went away.

When Arystan Bab turned 400 years old he started to search the boy. He traveled a lot and came also to Central Asia – but he couldn’t find the boy. But he was well protected. The legend tells that lions protected him from robbers and other enemies. This is why he got the name Arystan Bab.

When he came to a bridge close to Yassi (now known as Sairam – a 4000 years old city and suburb of Shymkent) he was close to give up. But a young boy at the bridge stopped him and asked: “Aksakal, where is my present – give me my date!” Arystan Bab was surprised and asked the name of the young old boy. “My name is Ahmed!”.

Arystan Bab realized his luck, went happy and prayed. His mission was accomplished! He found the right boy and gave him the date. Salmani Fars took the boy on his hand and went to the Yassi to teach him in the city to read Quran and learn the basics about Islam. After he finished education of the boy he died shortly and was buried between Yassi and Shavgar (now the city Turkistan). And the knowledge and wisdom of the young boy Ahmed became better and better and he went famous under the name Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.

Info Shymkent - Beautiful ornamentations at Arystan Bab Mausoleum
The portal of the Arystan Bab Mausoleum

At the end of the alley we also walking to the left and arriving the portal of the Mausoleum. The brick work of the portal is impressive. But who started to build this Mausoleum? It was King Amur Timur in the 14th century. He wanted to build a huge Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkistan. But during the start of construction everything went wrong. In his dream he got the message to build at first a mausoleum for the teacher of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi – after this he will be successful in building the monument for Ahmed. So Amur Timur built the Arystan Bab Mausoleum first.

Info Shymkent - Arystan Bab Door view
View to the Arystan Bab Mausoleum from a small mausoleum nearby.

But the current mausoleum is not from Amur Timur times. A earthquake and the harsh weather of Kazakhstan destroyed it. The shape of the mausoleum with two domes and the two minarets on the corner of the mausoleum – we seeing today – was finished in 1908. But also this was rebuilt the 1970’ies because of foundation problems.

As we went inside of the Mausoleum we not only found the tomb of Arystan Bab – also his other three students Hermet-Azyra, Karga-Baba and Lashyn-Baba are buried in the building. In other rooms of the Mausoleum we could visit a small mosque and a cute museum about the history of the building. The Arystan Bab Mausoleum with the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Mausoleum in Turkistan and the Mausoleums of Yasawi’s parents in Sairam is still a big destinations for Muslim pilgrims from Central Asia and Middle East.

Info Shymkent - Pilgrims at Arystan Bab Mausoleum
The Arystan Bab Mausoleum also a big pilgrimage destination.

On this day we learned much about the wise and mystic man Arystan Bab and went in the afternoon hours by mini bus back to Shymkent.

We can recommend this trip to the Mausoleum. You can also connect the trip to the close archaeological site of Otrartobe or the small museum of the wrestler Kazhymukan Munaitpasov.

Read more about Arystan Bab and his mausoleum near Shymkent: