Wonders of Kazakhstan

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The photographs were shot in Aktau, on the banks of the Caspian Sea, an important seaport of Kazakhstan.

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Spring is a time for renewal. And for camels, it’s no different. By late spring to early summer, it’s molting season for them – the time when they naturally shed their hair. Tian Shan or the Celestial Mountains, a 2,500-kilometre isolated stretch in the deserts of northwestern China and Central Asia – including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Tian Shan has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This coral and turquoise-toned circular structure is, believe it or not, a portable homestead, fashioned to accommodate a nomadic life. Pictured is the “crown” or the roof the yurt, which is typically made of wood, reeds or fabric. Yurts are rooted in the steppes of Central Asia. And this where the camels come in handy – the yurt can be dismantled and transported on the camel or a horse. Taking a yurt apart can be feat – a job that lasts between 30 minutes and three hours, according to National Geographic. Foothills of Tian Shan. The mosque is pilgrimage site for adherents of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, found in the region of Mangistau. Stone ram. A steppe is flat grassland in arid climates like Kazakhstan, with no trees. Mangistau or Mangestau can mean “eternal mountains.” Fishing in the Caspian Sea. Ninety per cent of the world's sturgeon population – species that include the sought-after beluga (for its caviar), sterlet and kaluga – can be found in the Caspian. Six years ago, Russia placed a five-year ban on sturgeon fishing to save the population from extinction due to overfishing. Not to worry, the fish in this photo is not of the Sturgeon family. Morning in Bartogai Lake by the Tian Shan Mountains. The rocky beaches of the Caspian Sea. kaz_1-17 Frolicking in the reservoir.

Step into the hidden wonders of Kazakhstan: a spectacular landscape of earthly riches that photograph like serene paintings of a moment in time.

Though Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat looms large in our cultural memory as pseudo-representations of Kazakhstan, the land where “eternal mountains” resides has a greater story to tell.

Kazakhstan, the ninth largest country in the world, is home to 16.79 million people, and for centuries, it linked the East and the West, through the fabled Silk Road until its demise six centuries ago­­­­­­­. Caravans loaded with silk and spices bound for Europe crossed through the steppes and deserts of Kazakhstan – all the way from China.

Today, Kazakhstan is looking to revive its role as conduit for goods destined for consumption in European cities, using the ancient Silk Road route.

The $7-billion project is said to hold the promise of transforming the landscape and the lives of people along the route: ushering a new era of glory and prosperity to those that welcome the trade route’s resurrection.

Much like centuries past, its precious cargo still originates in China – this time, laptops and other electronic gadgets – and winds up in the hands of Europe’s denizens.

With files from Reuters, the Washington Post and the New York Times



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