This is Kyrgyzstan’s first World Heritage Site. The mountain has been a holy spot for thousands of years. Prehistoric rock art shows it was sacred long before Islam came to the region. When the new faith took over it became a focus for Muslim pilgrims. Sick people sit in the caves on the mountainside hoping to be cured, and there’s a natural rock slide that women use to promote fertility. Kids slide down it too, supposedly to make them grow up healthy, but judging from this video it looks like they’re having too much fun to think about that. There’s an interesting slide show of the mountain here.
There are seventeen places of worship on the mountain, including a reconstruction of a medieval mosque. The original was destroyed by the Soviets in an effort to stamp out religion in the region. Judging from the thousands of pilgrims who go to Suleiman Mountain every year, they didn’t achieve much.
The mountain is right next to the 3,000 year-old city of Osh, a stop on the old Silk Road, so adventure travelers following this increasingly popular route will want to stop off and see this.