Driving along the southern shore of lake Issyk-Kul it’s hard not to notice a number of concrete yurts connected by a wall covered in murals. This is Aalam Ordo, a failed project initiated under a president long gone.
Constructed in 2009, Aalam Ordo was supposed to be a center for culture, science and spirituality. The vision behind the project was grand. This would be a place where the Kyrgyz youth would meet elders to exchange ideas and learn without lectures, curriculum, or lessons.
The community would live in 365 yurts, 36 of which were designated for the elders. The hope was that this would foster and develop a new generation whose ideas could reach faraway countries and bring a Nobel Prize to Kyrgyzstan.
Unfortunately, Aalam Ordo never became the renowned cultural center it was intended to become. In 2010, then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was removed from power in the Second Kyrgyz Revolution. The project was never completed, and the complex sits empty now, a mysterious ruin slowly being taken over by nature.
Colorful murals and statues can be found throughout the complex. The art features traditional Kyrgyz motives like eagles and hawks, and also events from recent history. One of the murals depicts a dragon terrorizing a village, stealing all its riches. One by one the men in the village go to fight the dragon and finally one of them succeeds; but instead of returning to the village with all his riches, he himself turns into a dragon that continues to terrorize the village. This symbolizes the cycle of corruption in Kyrgyzstan, and how those fighting it have become just as corrupt once they were part of the system. The mural even features the parliament building in Bishkek with snipers on its roof, a clear symbol of the political unrest at the time.
Know Before You Go
Aalam Ordo is located along the road on the southern shore of lake Issyk-Kul a few kilometers east of Kaji-Say.