Legends of Kyrgyzstan: Burana Tower

The Burana Tower, KyrgyzstanBurana Tower stands 10 km (6 miles) to the south of Tokmok, all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun. Though experts say that the tower was originally a minaret that stood twice as tall as it does today, Kyrgyz legends have another version of the story.

Legend says that there was a powerful khan with a beautiful daughter, Monara. The khan wanted to protect his daughter from the affections of local young men, djigits.

One day he summoned all the fortune tellers in the region and demanded that they tell the girl’s future. All of them foretold a happy life for the girl - except one. This fortune teller said, “I can only tell the truth, even though you may execute me for it. Your daughter’s fate is a sad one. She will hardly reach her sixteenth birthday, and then she will die a tragic death.” The khan was angry, but he couldn’t ignore the prediction. So he built a tall tower and locked his daughter in the top to protect her.

The girl grew up in the tower, looking out over the valley through the four windows - north, east, south, and west. Servants brought her food and drink, delivering it in a basket so that no one would enter her room.

On the day of her sixteenth birthday, the khan was so happy that the fortune teller’s prediction had turned out to be wrong that he decided to congratulate the girl with a basket of fruit. He presented her with the basket, gave her a kiss, and then she suddenly collapsed and inexplicably died. Dumbfounded, the khan inspected the gift, and found a poisonous black spider hiding in it.

The khan was stricken with grief, and sobbed so loudly that the tower shook and the top part fell away, creating the ruin that we see today.