«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

Karkaraly: a crown pearl of Kazakh soil

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Karkaraly: a crown pearl of Kazakh soil
A mesmerizing place of Karkaraly contains many answers to questions with respect to the Kazakh history. It keeps many mind-boggling and amazing secrets.

Apart from its deep history, Karkaraly has been considered to be a wonderful place at the crossroads of Eurasia, and an ancient land where the descendants of Kazakhs live.

A beautiful girl walked along the steppe and dropped a carcass - a precious headdress adorned with expensive stones and high feathers. The stones scattered on the ground. Emeralds turned into dense forests. Diamonds turned into transparent lakes. Rubies grew in mountain massifs. Snow-white pearls covered the mountains with snowcaps. The feathers flew into the sky and turned into beautiful white birds. And on the site of the girl's loss a unique land was born - Karkaraly. An amazing green oasis in the middle of the endless steppes of Saryarqa. Truly, one of the most beautiful places in our country.

City on the caravan trail

A small nameless village on the bank of a mountain river emerged in these parts back in the 18th century. Carpathian roads from Central Asia to Siberia ran along the Karkaralinsky mountain range. Tired caravans found shelter, rest, food and useful information in a secluded mountain village. Residents, who settled here, were the first in Kazakhstan marketers. They knew what kind of goods and where the previous caravans were carrying. They were aware of where the demand for leather and wool was. They shared this information with the caravans. Most likely not for free. However, these are only our assumptions.

Karkaraly is a bright story, where many legends were intertwined.

The official history says that at the beginning of the 19th century, tsarist Russia turned its attention to this strategically important place. In 1822 Count Speransky composed the famous "Decree on the Siberian Kirghiz", which abolished the khanate power in Central, Northern and Western Kazakhstan. And on April 8, 1824, a decree was issued on the formation of the Karkaraly district. The fortress was laid here. Three years later it was transformed into a Cossack village. Soon the village was given the status of a city. Thus, Karkaraly became the first city in the vast territory of Sary-Arka. And remained the only one until the end of the XIX century, when on the tracts that we now call Pavlodar-Akmolinsk-Semey, settlements and post pickets began to appear, which eventually grew into cities.

But the most important feature of Karkaraly land is its people. In the course of archaeological excavations, the famous scientist Alkei Margulan found in the territory of the present city and its environs several sites of primitive man, which today are of scientific interest. When you walk along Karkaraly or along the path you go to the forest, you should not forget that along this same path, along this way the primitive man walked many thousands of years ago. The site of the ancient man was also preserved today in the area of ​​"Suyk bulak", and not far from the complex of the district hospital, on the right bank of the Karkaralinka River. And in the tract "Malik sai" were found traces of residence of the primitive man: their names - "Grand Chamber", "Three caves". Our very distant ancestor, an ancient man, was smart enough choosing their place of residence Karkaraly.

This land gave birth a great son of the Kazakh people, the greatest statesman Kazybek bi. The roots of his wise thoughts stretched across the Kazakh land, the noble crown of his knowledge dawned and shrouded generation after generation. The folk tradition has survived that it was in the vicinity of Karkaralinsk, near the Great Lake, on the border of steppe and forest, that the representatives of the three zhuzes agreed to proclaim the great Abylai Khan. 

This place is home for a great figure, Tattimbet Kazangapov, who was an outstanding composer-dombyra player. We will also mention the names of akyn Shoje and the famous orator Kenzhe bi.
And how many other batyrs and biys, and simply wonderful people, the ancestors of the present Karkaraly people, left this place when the time claimed them and it was necessary to repulse the external enemy - the Dzhungarian conquerors.
Yes, it was here, in the valley of a small mountain river, that there was a secluded settlement of people for a long time. Through it were caravan routes from Central Asia to Siberia and, possibly, from the East to the West. It was impossible to pass by such a wonderful unique lighthouse.
And the time has come when on this place it was decided to equip the settlement. When they say that Karkaraly was founded in 1824, this is both true and false. It is incorrect because, as already noted, people settled here much earlier. But at the same time it is true, since it is this year that the official mention of Karkaralinsk as a settlement is dated. The date sometimes mentioned on April 8, 1824 refers to the solemn opening of the Karkaraly district and the order. Then, on July 24 of the same year, it was approved by the ruling Senate and the Decree on this event was approved.

Steppe Democracy

According to the writings on the Speransky village, they were elected for three years and were established in the volosts. At the head of the volost stood the volost sultan. Also elected by the people. The district of the rules is the aga-sultan, or senior sultan. A prerequisite was the presence with him of four assessors - two Russians and two Kazakhs. They were chosen for two years and called honorable biys. Well, is not it a democracy? The eldest sultan appointed the most intelligent and most authoritative person of those edges. Do you know who the senior sultan of the Karkaraly district was? The answer is Kunanbay Uskenbay - the father of the future great poet and enlightener of the Kazakh people Abay Kunanbayev.

The senior sultan of Kunanbay had many good deeds. He did what no ruler of Karkaraly did before him: Kunanbay built a mosque. The tsar's curators were only glad to learn that the Karkaraly Kazakhs (or the Kirghiz, as they were called back then) had their temple, where people served their god, where good and justice was preached. For many years the mosque of Kunanbai became a place of pilgrimage for the Kazakhs of Saryarka.

The mosque was liquidated by the Communists. Under the Soviet regime, it was barbarously demolished. And only a few years ago the grateful descendants of the first Karkaraly people, who already live in independent Kazakhstan, completely restored the unique in architecture and beauty building.  The mosque is open nowadays, as it was 150 years ago. The gift of the aga-sultan Kunanbay returned to the people. Also, Karkaraly people are well aware of the house where the childhood of the general Kornilov passed. There are no plates. And in general, the memory of him in no way and no one is immortalized. This is understandable, the main historical notches were still made in Soviet times. So the Kornilovs are simply remembered here. 

The memory of another general, Karbyshev, was more fortunate. General of the Soviet Army, Hero of the Soviet Union Dmitry Karbyshev, tortured by the fascists in the concentration camp of Mauthausen, was born in Omsk. But his parents lived here for many years, in Karkaraly. And the officer Mikhail Karbyshev served at the centurion George Kornilov (yes, at the father of General Kornilov). The Karbyshev family was very prosperous, it owned a large land plot. Commemorative and courteous Karkaraly subsequently named the village that arose on that allotment, Karbyshevka. Despite such a vivid military roots, Karkaraly has never been a military outpost. But for almost a hundred years here was the largest and most famous fair - Koyandinskaya!

Having arranged the political and social life of their village, the Kazakhs looked with curious eyes at their possessions. And it is not surprising that their eyes fell on those very trade caravans that still floated past the Karkaraly mountains, still finding shelter, rest, food and very useful information. But local business people realized: and, in fact, why do these caravans sail past them? And they began to actively participate in the trading process.

It is believed that the first auction was opened here by the merchant Varnava Botov in 1848. He bought up livestock from Kazakhs, resold it, sent it on. In short, he traded widely. The following year new merchants joined him, and, of course, new buyers appeared. A year later, in the spring of Karkaraly arrived, as they would say today, merchants from near and far abroad. And the international market rustled! Siberia and the Urals, Central Asia and Western China - all were represented here with their products. Nomads - pastoralists from all over the steppe - eagerly awaited the summer and drove into Koyandy fat herds. For them it was the only chance to sell and buy goods.

The convertible currency of the Koyandin fair was a two-year-old ram, its monetary equivalent was two rubles in silver. For 20 years, the fair was spontaneous, without any announcements or messages. For two decades the people briskly traded for their own pleasure. But in 1869 the local authorities came to their senses, and the county administration sent a petition on recognizing the Koyandinskaya fair as the official outlet. Administration pursued a material interest, because now traders began to pay duty. However, under the state wing, the fair did not wither away, but, on the contrary, flourished to an unprecedented extent. By 1900 there were 30 shops, 276 shops and 707 yurts. The trade area occupied 55 square kilometers!

"The trading rows were placed in four long rows. In two central markets, Russian and Siberian merchants traded in manufactory, tea and other goods. In the neighboring - Kazakh, Central Asian and Chinese merchants. Here they traded in silks, carpets, oriental sweets, bread and koumiss. But the main commodity at the fair was cattle. Annually more than 200 thousand horses, cows, sheep and goats were supplied for sale," historians of those times noted.

But in addition to trade and economic importance, the Koyandinskaya Fair in the development of culture made an absolutely unique contribution. Here the best singers and artists gathered. From morning till evening the trade was accompanied by entertaining performances: aitys, performances. The volost biys held their congresses. The magistrates of the peace decided matters.

Here, the postal and telegraph office, the state bank, the courthouse, and apartment houses gradually emerged. A Mohammedan prayer house was opened for the Muslim population, a small chapel was built for Christians. The merchants were rich. We settled in these parts. The houses were made of wood, carved or of red brick, so unusual for the steppe taste. Strong, built on the centuries, they still stand as new, without a single cracks.

Local residents claim that in those houses - many treasures that the merchants hid. That's just no one dares to look for. There is one story for that. They say that once treasure hunters decided to shred the house of the merchant Ryazantsev, famous for his fabulous capital. They came one night, only for shovels took, but suddenly Ryazantsev himself appeared and let them threaten their finger. They say that the merchant's spirit roams at night, guarding merchants' burial grounds.

If it were not for the revolution, who knows, perhaps today a powerful metropolis would be in place of Karkaraly no worse than Shanghai. And certainly not less than Urumqi!

But with the advent of Soviet power, trade routes were emptied - few of the foreign merchants ventured to go here. In 1930 the Koyandinskaya Fair was finally closed. Trading rows were dismantled and given to the collective farm, which was formed at the site of the fair. Then the collective farm became a state farm, then a peasant farm. But the central farmstead and to this day is called the village of Koyandinskiy.

The West learned about the unique region of Karkaraly in the middle of the XIX century. Thanks to the "Geographical and Statistical Dictionary of the Russian Empire" edited by the well-known traveler Semenov-Tianshansky. The scientist first published a detailed and emotional account of Karkaraly, about the richness and beauty of nature, about the stone puzzles left by ancient people. The famous traveler-ethnographer Potanin also left his notes. In the future, in the history and nature of Karkaraly, many great writers, poets and composers drew inspiration.

The legends of Karkaraly paved the way to immortal and valuable works

Based on local legends Mukanov wrote a wonderful poem "Sulushash", the action of which is connected with the famous Shaytankol lake. By the strange whim of popular narratives, the most charming mountain lake was called Shaitanankol (Devil's Lake). And he is credited with the most gloomy qualities.

The devil's lake is located high in the mountains, at an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level. Who has seen him at least once, will never forget. It is a bright blue bowl of water, surrounded by steep cliffs and almost impassable forest. According to local experts, no one has ever seen its bottom. How could it have formed here, in the forest more often, among the rocks? There are versions that it is located in the void of an extinct volcano. But for certain nobody knows. Because no one has studied it in detail.

A lot of legends are associated with the Devil's Lake, where, as you can guess, everything ends very badly. Lovers die, drown, disappear. And the local people, of course, constantly meet here then leshchi, then mermaids, then monsters ... Fear is also catching the inexplicable atmosphere of Devil's Lake. Here, birds do not sing, the wind does not rustle, even mosquitoes do not squeak. Why? The devil only knows why! Do not squeak - and that's it. 

According to legends, at the beginning of the last century Orthodox Karkaraly led to the lake father and asked to consecrate an evil place. The priest consecrated, sprinkled and decided to call the lake Svyatym henceforth. And in the proof he ordered to mount a large stone cross on a steep rocky cliff. The cross did not last long. They say, right before the eyes of the Orthodox rocked and collapsed into the dark waters. Damn - it's still Chertov.

Wonders of nature

The mountain lakes of Karkaraly are a fabulously beautiful phenomenon of nature. Formed in rocky hollows, they are scattered on mountain slopes, like crystal stones. One of the most famous is Lake Pool. That's a miracle, no one to look. The wind and time were hollowed out in the basalt rock with a perfectly flat foundation, with the same depth parameters throughout the area, the rains, the mountain streams and thawed waters filled it, and the natural pool turned out. This you will not see anywhere else.

Wonders of nature here are many - dwarf rocky pines two palms high, the Karkaraly barberry, which is no longer found anywhere in the world. Only here a special kind of wormwood grows, from which the first domestic medicine against some types of Arglabin cancer has been obtained. Here the juniper twines and dances birches. And high in the mountains there are relic Karkaraly arhars, for whose head foreigners pay a million tenge. By the way, all attempts of the person to expand the territory of this magnificent animal's life ended in failure. Mountain arkhar is happy only in Karkaraly.