Sherkala - the lion's fortress

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Sherkala means for Mangishlak the same as the Eiffel Tower for Paris or the Statue of Liberty for New York. It is a Symbol and a Landmark.

This giant, yurt looking, maturation in the Mangystau mountains, outlier with challenging forms, brings to the live memories about the Lost World, which was stormed by the eccentric characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Up there, isalso easy to find fossil phantoms generated by a human imagination. And not only this.

Created by nature "mesa" with 200 meter high sheer walls always excited the human imagination with its inaccessibility and titanic dimensions. Sherkala rises above the flat intermountain lobe and attracts the eye from afar. However, the desert, devoidof scale landmarks, hides the true size until you come close and the cliff blocksa half of the horizon, and the head throw back up by 90º.

To complete the image of perception, onemust add an unusual featureof the rocks to change the color depending on the weather and the altitude of the sun. On a clear day, the white limestone walls of Sherkala shine so brightly that it is painful to look at them. When rare clouds or regular incandescent dust-screen are hanging over Mangyshlak, the color can be gray or even yellowish. But at sunrises and sunsets, Sherkala begins to glow, like a red-hot stove.

But the most attractingfeature of this outlier is its inaccessibility. Sherkala is a "Lion's Castle". But what a lion has to do with it? If you look at Sherkala from one of its sides, you can actually see a sleeping lion. From here another greeted translation–a "Lion Mountain"-comes.But there were no "kings of the beasts"on Mangyshlak in historical times and it is also doubtful that anyone actually could imaginehow they looked asleep. On the other side,the local history is full of the valiant characters, as brave asthe lions are. Perhaps the name preserved some echoes of the long forgotten legends.

When it comes to the survived legends, Sherkala has many of them. For example,one of the legends says that once Turkmens(eternal enemies of local Kazakh-Adaevtsev) hid on Sherkala and turnedit into an impregnable castle fromwhich itwas very convenient to raid the surrounding villages. All attempts to take them down by a storm or a starvation were futile until the Kazakhs learned a top military secret that there was a well deep in Sherkala,with a 200-meter secret crawlway from its top. So the Kazakhs dug from the other side and when they reached the well, theyfilled it with stones. After that, the enemies realized their hopeless positionand surrendered to the winners.

It is also interesting, that when M.I. Ivanin,a member of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society (later General and Head of Internal Bukeyev Horde),visited Sherkalain 1846, he found on the top of it not only a ladder which one can use to climb up, but also the remnants of certain structures and "basements". At the same place, completely rusty chain armour weighing 17 pounds was found. It obviously belonged to abrave warrior as it was punctured in many places.

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