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Alasha Khan and Jochi Khan Mausolea

From Satpaev, take the road running due north in the direction of the village of Malshybay. After 61km, and just short of Malshybay, you see on the left of the road a red-brick mausoleum of the 11th or 12th century. This is ascribed to Alasha Khan, the legendary founder of the Kazakh people. A plaque outside the mausoleum displays the tribal signs (lamga) of the three zhuzes and 24 tribes assigned to them. By tradition, Alasha Khan was the source of all. The mausoleum has been heavily restored, but is a fascinating building. It has a tall portal, with a graceful arch enclosing the entrance doorway. The external walls feature geometric designs of interlocking bricks. The interior is octagonal in plan, with arched niches. A circular brick dome rises to a central aperture. Go to the niche at the inside corner of the building to the left of the door and look up. You will see bricks imprinted with the stamp of a wolf's footprint, a symbol of the then Turkic leaders. From this niche a stairway leads еo a narrow internal corridor. Walking around this has the effect of circling the tomb, a ritual said to act, for the faithful, as a cure for various ills. Further steps at the end of this corridor lead up to the roof, from where there is a fine view across the surrounding steppe.

From the Mausoleum of Alasha Khan, head back towards Satpaev for 1km, before turning left onto a steppe track. Head towards a tightly packed clump of Irees in the distance, which marks the underground water source from where the drinking water for the town of Zhezkazgan is pumped. A 4x4 is necessary for this route, as there is a brook to be forded, part of the Kengir River system, after a further 23km. Before reaching the brook you will see on higher ground to the left of the track, but the other side of the river from it, a curious stone mausoleum with a 'pitched-roofed' form. This is the Dombaul Mausoleum, probably dating from the 9th or 10th century, popularly said to be the mausoleum of a kobyz-playing contemporary of the legendary musician Korkut Ata.

A further 2km on from the brook you reach the Mausoleum of Jochi Khan, a heavily restored brick building with a turquoise dome, the latter sitting atop a base of 16 points. Like the Mausoleum of Alasha Khan, an arched niche surrounds the entrance doorway. The interior is plain, with a simple brick cupola. The large brick grave is said to be that of Jochi, the narrower one next to it that of his wife. Jochi was the eldest son of Genghis Khan, though carried with him throughout his life the stigma of possible illegitimacy. Genghis Khan's wife, Borte, had been abducted by the Merkit tribe, and gave birth soon after her recovery by Genghis Khan. Jochi was entrusted the westernmost part of Genghis Khan's empire, but a rift developed between Jochi and his father, especially after Genghis Khan chose his third son, Ogedei, over him as his successor. Jochi predeceased his father, as a result of a hunting accident. A Kazakh legend has it that none of Genghis Khan's courtiers had the nerve to tell their leader that his son was dead. Eventually a noted musician transmitted the sad news in a song so beautiful that Genghis Khan's wrath could not fall upon the messenger who had delivered the news.

To get to the Mausoleum of Jochi Khan straight from Zhezkazgan, head out of town through the industrial complex, turn left and you will pass the power station on your right and then the Kengir Reservoir on your left. At 3km out of town, bear right at the fork in the road. Continue along the metalled but somewhat pot-holed road for 22km until you reach the hamlet of Korganbeg, known in Soviet times as Promishlenny. Turn right immediately opposite the hamlet, onto a track which forks after a further 18km. Turn left, and you will reach the Jochi Khan Mausoleum after a few hundred metres. Straight on lies the Dombaul Mausoleum, another 4km away.