Turkmenistan is a central Asian country between Kazakhstan, Iran, and a huge desert, that has been ruled by a dictator for 15 years with some truly bizarre laws. Having an array of places of archaeological importance and remnants of the past, you’ll learn a lot about the historical past the country has encountered over the years. Here are some of the most interesting facts about Turkmenistan!
1. It is currently one of the least visited countries in the world with only 13000 visitors in year 2018.
2. The capital city of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, resembles a blend of Pyongyang and Las Vegas due to its fountains, boulevards, statues, and white buildings. During a sunny day, the city center shines glamorously due to the white marble. So much white marble was used in Ashgabat that it holds the Guinness World Record for having the highest density of marble buildings.
3. Apart from the buildings having made from using white marble, Turkmenistan’s capital city also has a beautiful night display. A lot of people say that the light strips are similar to Las Vegas.
4. Turkmenistan became independent from Soviet rule in 1991 and its first president Niyazov, declared himself “President for Life.” He remained president until his death in 2006.
5. President Saparmurat Niyazov, was well known — notorious perhaps — for having conceived of a string of unusual laws passed during his tenure. Some of these laws were rationalized under the premise of trying to preserve traditional Turkmen culture. For example: no opera, gold teeth or spandex. He also named the days of the week after his immediate family members. In January 2018, the president banned black vehicles in the city because he associates black with bad luck.
6. Tourist visa to this country can be obtained only through a government approved agency within Turkmenistan.
7. The desert landscape is the prominent feature in Turkmenistan. About 70% of the state is covered by hot and dry climate including the expansive Karakum (Black Sands) Desert.
8. This unique country holds the Guinness World Record for the largest indoor Ferris wheel in an architectural structure. The Ferris wheel is 156 feet (47.60 m) tall, while its surrounding structure is 187 feet (57 m).
9. If you loved dinosaurs, you can find real dinosaur foot prints at Kugitang Nature Reserve which is one among most pristine among Turkmenistan’s natural reserves.
10. Turkmenistan has a “Melon Holiday”. Some of the best melons in the world are grown in Turkmenistan. They are so sweet and revered that they are recognized by a national holiday. During the second Sunday of August every year, every person in the country is advised to eat melons grown in the country.
11. Turkmenistan is where you can find the “Gates of Hell”. Before it was dubbed as a hellish gate, it was usually referred to as the Darvaza gas crater since it is located near the Darvaza village in Turkmenistan. What makes this crater interesting is the fact that it’s been burning ever since 1971.
Click here to check out some of the most beautiful lakes of Central Asia!
How to reach?
There are no direct international flights to Turkmenistan from the major cities of India. However, several connecting flights are available to reach Ashgabat International Airport.
Darvaza Gas Crater: Locally known as Gates of Hell, Darvaza Gas Crater is a natural gas field collapsed into an underground cavern located in Darweze, Turkmenistan. The three artificial craters were created in the 1970s as a result of Soviet-era gas exploration. Time your visit after sunset for the best photographs of this bewitching sight.
Yangykala Canyon: This is one of the most incredible natural attractions in Turmenistan. Also called as ‘Grand Canyon of Central Asia’, this place features bands of red, yellow and pink rock rising from a vast expanse of barren desert. Enjoy stunning sunset and sunrise views here by camping on the plateau above the canyon.
Konye Urgench: Located in northwest Turkmenistan, Kunya-Urgench was once the capital of the Khorezm region which was destroyed by Ghengis Khan and the Mongols. This place features fortresses, mausoleums, a mosque, the gates of a caravanserai and a 60-metre high minaret.
Merv: Merv is the oldest and best-preserved of the oasis-cities along the Silk Road in Central Asia. This place is a rather significant one due to the fact that according to some of the claims, Merv is supposed to be the largest of cities in the world till around the 12th century. It is believed that the Hindu religion started here in Mount Meru which, according to the religion, is also the centre of the world as well.