In the Köytendag Mountains, a dirt trail leads to the remote Kyrk Gyz Cave. Inside the cave is a something which looks familiar but slowly reveals itself to be bizarre.
The ceilings of the cavern is bedecked with a large number of stalactites. However on closer inspection, one can see the stalactites are not stone, but cloth. Local legend has it that anyone who can fling a mud pie with a cloth attached to it to the ceiling of the cave and make it stick, walks away with a wish granted.
Kyrk Gyz Cave means “Forty Girls’ Cave”, a name that refers to a local legend of forty girls who once retreated there, in order to avoid rape and murder by bandits. Once in the cave, the forty girls were fed by a mysterious old woman, whose tomb is said to be located in front of the cave. When the bandits discovered them, the Girls prayed to the Gods, who showed them an escape route through the caverns. What that story has to do with placing mud-soaked cloth stripes to the ceiling of the cave however, remains unclear.
Visit Turkmenistan with Atlas Obscura Trips
Turkmenistan and the Gates of Hell
On this sweeping, eclectic adventure through Turkmenistan, marvel at the towering white-marble structures of Ashgabat, roam through barren deserts and a world-class canyon, and spend the night camped out beside the flaming Gates of Hell.