Jeti-Ögüz Rocks – Kyrgyzstan - Atlas Obscura
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Jeti-Ögüz Rocks

According to myth, there's a bloody explanation for the beautiful bright red color of this rock formation set amidst alpine vegetation. 

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Jeti-Ögüz is a bright red rock formation that lends its name to a nearby resort, a village, and a whole Kyrgyz district. To differentiate it from these other entities, the formation is sometimes referred to as Jeti-Ögüz Rocks or Jeti-Ögüz Canyon.

The name of this protected natural monument in Kyrgyzstan translates as “Seven Bulls,” a reference a mythological dispute between two rival khans. The wife of one of the khans betrayed her husband to join the second khan. Conspiracies and subterfuges ensued, and the climax of the legend coincides with the slaughtering of seven bulls during a party in which the betrayed khan stabbed his wife to death. This caused a deluge of blood that covered the seven bulls, the khan, his servants and the surrounding mountains. Hence the bright red rock formation.

For those unsatisfied with the mythological explanation for nature of the formation, these rocks consist of conglomerate of fragments of geological detritus. The oblique layering of these rocky protrusions is due to millions of years of sedimentation. In fact, these layers are more reminiscent of a dragon’s scales rather than bulls, and this resemblance probably did not go unnoticed, as the adjacent valley is called Ushchelie Drakanov (Valley of Dragons). 

A visit in the late afternoon will guarantee the brightest shade of red.

Know Before You Go

From the road running along Issyk Kul Lake, the directions for Jeti-Ögüz will lead to this stunning rock formation.  There is ample parking space nearby and an array of small shops selling snacks and trinkets.  Guides are available for hikes.

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