Ekedeshik – Mysterious Cave Town
Ekedeshik cave complex is located not far from the district of Tagtabazar on the left side of the Murghab River. It is dug out in a clayey sandstone on the level of 100 meters above the river and is a two-level labyrinth of cave residences united with one long gallery-corridor with semi-cylindrical arch. There is only one entrance to the underground city that explains the name of the monument – Ekedeshik, translated from Turkmen as ‘single orifice’. The monument has not been studied much up to now, but scientists assume, that Ekedeshik had appeared approximately in the 1st century B.C.
The cave complex consists of two levels: according to the discovered artifacts, there were residential and praying rooms, kitchen, common halls, and the lower level had storehouses, wells and natural watercourse system that had water kept the underground water in the cave in one place. Archeologists suggest that Ekedeshik was an underground hermitage of Christian or Buddhist monks, who lived on the territory of Central Asia in the ancient times. There are also other ancient underground complexes found in the region that support the hypothesis. All of them were built by Christian or Buddhist monks.
There were also residential caves found in the underground complex that were dug out much later, in the 14-15th centuries. All in all, 44 caves have been counted within the complex. They are quite spacious and can contain few people. Scientists suppose that in the early medieval times, a large amount of families resided in Ekedeshik. This is understandable, because the underground complex was wide enough and well-protected dwelling, besides hidden from an outside view.
Today Ekedeshik is the State historical and cultural reserve of Turkmenistan and one of the most popular touristy attractions of the country.