The Jety-Oguz valley is located approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) south-west of the city of Karakol at Issyk Kul Lake. It’s one of the most gorgeous sites in Kyrgyzstan, a rich valley home to many impressive waterfalls and canyons. It’s also a national zoological reserve, where many species of animals and birds live.
This valley is also filled with legends and tales from the ancient Kyrgyz people. In fact, the name Jety-Oguz, which means «valley of the 7 bulls», comes from one of these stories. The Russian writer Ivan Sokolov Mikitov wrote this legend after his trip to the Kyrgyz territory, where nomad people told him about the mysterious creation of the valley.
The legend says that two strong and wealthy kings (Khans) lived in this mountainous region. One day, one of them fell in love with the other king’s beautiful wife. He kidnapped her and made her his, which led to a long period of war between the two camps. After many tough battles, the tension in the region was at its highest. The king who had kidnapped the young lady loved her as much as her lawful husband. Neither of the two kings agreed to let her go. That is when the king kidnapper, who wanted to end the conflict, came up with a twisted plan: he would kill the woman before giving her body to his enemy in the hope to satisfy him.
Hence, he organized a banquet in the valley that was attended by many people. On this occasion, he sacrificed seven bulls. And when the seventh was killed, the king pushed a knife in his beloved’s heart. Streams of blood sprayed out from her wound and it is said that this blood poisoned all the people present at the time. Her heart and the seven bulls were turned into blood-colored stones.
Since then, the valley took the name of the seven bulls, Jeti-Oguz. You can see there, on one side, a large rock formation in the shape of a broken heart, and, on the other, seven rocks one next to the other. Today this region is very appreciated by photographers and painters for its magnificent panoramas of mountains, canyons, forests and waterfalls. There is also an ancient cemetery and several tumuli from the 7th to 5th centuries B.C. - today their size varies from 16 to 28 m (52 to 92 ft) diameter for a height between 1.7 and 3 m (3 to 10 ft). Before, they were of course more imposing.
In 1932, a thermal resort was built in the heart of the valley, home to many geothermal sources. Located nearby the red cliffs, it allows visitors to benefit from the healthy minerals of the water while seeing the beauty of the calm wilderness in a particularly soft climate. This resort is where the first Kyrgyz president, Akyev, met with Boris Yeltsin in 1991 after the independence of Kyrgyzstan.