The underground mosque Beket-Ata is a holy place, which significance is in line with the burial places of Muhammed and Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. Thousands of pilgrims from Kazakhstan, neighbouring countries and other countries come here daily and on some weekends their number can reach 3 thousand people. It should be mentioned, that people of different faiths and nationalities come to touch the holiness and to seek the help.
Becket-Ata Myrzagul Uly was a Sufi hermit, who chose the harsh land of Mangystau for his daily prayers. He was born in the second half of the XVIII century near Kulsary village (Atyrau region), received a blessing for his studies from the sage Shopan-Ata, when he turned 14, and then he went to Khiva to pursue the knowledge. Beket-Ata became a Sufi after turning 40; he was teaching the children and healing the deceases. He is remembered by the people not only as a saint and healer, who gives vitality and health to the infirms, not only as a prophet and soothsayer, but he left in the memory as a warrior and hero, due to the glorious battles during the war with Kalmyk tribes. Sufi did not let down people or the land of the harsh, but beautiful region.
Becket-Ata built four mosques: Ak-Mosque in Kulsary, the second one - in the chalk rocks 20 kilometers from Beyneu village, the third one in Tobykty region, and the fourth mosque, composed of seven rooms, the warrior and prophet carved out in the chalk rocky cape in the Oglandy tract - here the prophet founded a Sufi school later. This mosque, Becket-Ata, became his final resting place, taking the name of the Sufi. The road to Beket-Ata goes through the Shopan-Ata mosque, located on the old caravan route from Mangystau to Khorezm. Here, according to legend, Shopan-Ata, the disciple of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, and his daughter, were buried, Becket-Ata admired the sage until the end of his days, and he was always very glad, if his visitors would come first to Shopan-Ata to commemorate the mentor and this became the unwritten rule and tradition for the pilgrimage.
Beket-Ata is located at 70 kilometers from Shopan-Ata mosque. For the years of official recognition, the holy place has expanded to a complex: a house for pilgrims, called The house with blue domes, built on the top, where the guest rooms are provided for overnight stay - one for men and one for women, a central room with dastarkhan and the pavillions in the yard. Each visitor brings a treat for the dastarkhan and he or she tries, if possible, to do some work: to serve tea to newcomers and etc.
The way down to the underground mosque is also equipped with seats on particularly steep climbs - here the tired pilgrims can take a breath. These pavilions overlook the pink-and-white cliffs, unusual and tranquil landscapes for this part of Mangystau. Kulans, listed in the Red Book, can be seen from here, and no one here is trying to reduce them to a line in the Extinct section of the Book - the feeders and waterers are arranged for them everywhere. Friendliness of nature is one of the hallmarks of the region, and it can be separately mentioned: the animals, appearing before the pilgrims are the greetings from the holy place. Besides the kulans, many birds, lizards are permanently inhabited here, and even Ustyurt mouflons show themselves from time to time, which are generally very difficult to observe in the wild nature.
Halfway to the mosque, there is a source with salty and bitter water, having miraculous healing properties, according to the people’s beliefs. All the visitors take at least a bottle of such water, and, although the water comes in a thin stream from special taps, they wait patiently for their turn. The second source is located to the left of the mosque, at the cliff foot and everyone shall rinse the eyes with water. Perhaps, in addition to physiological need ("to heal diseases"), it will also bring a spiritual enlightenment.
Many people talk about Beket-Ata necropolis - a spiritual, historical and cultural monument. The mosque rooms duplicate the premises of the Cheops pyramid. The interior acoustics of Becket-Ata is striking - it has amazingly clear audibility of prayers, read aloud from any of its premises, no drafts with open doors and vents. However, the visits to the mosque, prayers have been read, and the personal requests shall not be discussed. These moments of stopping the time run, touch the eternal, serene, full of boundless love for all the beings shall be kept and cherished by the visitors. Under the clear sky of harsh Mangystau, in a mosque that the Sufi carved in the chalk cliffs, people pray daily for their inmost wishes.
Hundreds of tourists and pilgrims come here from Atyrau by train to Shetpe station (300 km to Beket-Ata), hiring taxis right there from the forecourt. Aktau is the starting point for others. Hundreds and thousands of people take blessings and hope with them, expecting for a miracle and asking health, children, solutions to various earthly problems, since we are all humans. Yes, we can argue whether it is possible to voice an idea that a human has an infinite human capacity to create the reality and events, which just need a trigger. But is it necessary?
According to the taxi drivers of Shetpe, many pilgrims return to Beket-Ata mosque in a year - to thank for what happened in their life.