Thursday, 5 January 2017

Almaty Sightseeing

Almaty boasts of beautiful lakes, mountains and parks. I wish I could see all these but time was not really on my side and I just manged to do some sightseeing within the city and its suburbs. Listed below are the places I visited in Almaty.

 Kok Tobe Hill Park
Kok Tobe or 'Green Hill' at 1100 metres above sea level is the highest point of Almaty. It is a hill which offers a lot of recreational activities. It also makes a great viewpoint over the city of Almaty and its suburbs.
There are several platforms to catch a vista of the bustling city below. From where I stood, the city appears rather near.

Standing at different points of the hill, you seem to get a different set of panorama.
I was attracted to the houses with colourful roofs perched against the hill slope and decided to cross over the 'no-entry' line to snap this photo only to be told off by a security guard who appeared too eager to do his duty. Well, no pains no gains. This photo turns out beautiful!
Visitors would be greeted by The Fountain Of Desires near where the shuttle bus stopped at the peak of the hill. This fountain with a granite sculpture of an apple is also a wishing well for some who would throw coins inside while making their wish. The apple sculptures and signages can be seen all over Almaty as it is the icon that represents the city. 
Kok Tobe features a children's playground, an art gallery, an amusement park, walking paths, a concert hall, viewing platforms, a mini zoo, restaurants and a few other things. If I were a local resident, this place would probably be my ideal weekend getaway. 
There are a few open air stalls selling some traditional Kazakh stuffs and even if you do not plan to buy anything, your head will automatically turn to look at the store's collection as the items sold are not only colorful, they are very interesting too.
I had a gala time trying on the traditional headwear and even though I love all of them, decided not to get any.

There is another interesting find on Kok Tobe. I was pleasantly surprised to see a monument of "The Beatles" along the walking path. (The Beatles is a British rock band formed in 1960 and was once the most popular band in the world).
Another spectacular structure on Kok Tobe is a restaurant with the shape of a Kazakh yurt.
Anyone visiting Kok Tobe will surely not miss Almaty TV Tower which is located at its foothill. Standing at 372 meters tall this tower can even be seen in many parts of the city.

Monument of Independence 
And Republic Square
The Monument Of Independence is a spectacular architectural landmark of Kazakhstan as it symbolizes Kazakhstan’s independence and identity. This monument features a 91 feet tall obelisk topped by a statue of a warrior standing on a winged leopard. Unless you take a magnified shot, it is almost impossible to see the statue at the top as it is so high up.
This statue of The Golden Warrior is very symbolic to the Kazakhs.
The Monument of Independence is erected on The Republic Square which is the main square of Almaty. A few interesting statues are also erected in the vicinity and panels of brass sculptures flanked the monument on either side.

Towards the front of the monument is a statue of a boy on a horse.
There is also a statue of a woman holding a bowl and a statue of a scholarly man.

The monument is flanked by panels of sculptured brass on either side.
Various historical scenes of Kazakhstan are depicted in these brass panels. While our Kazakh tour guide was busy explaining the historical significance of each panel, the participants in my tour group slowly detached themselves to do other things. Is Kazakh History that boring? some perhaps.

Sunkar Raptor Nursery
Another place I visited is Sunkar Nursery. This is the only nursery that raises falcons and other raptors and releases them back in the wild.
The nursery is located at Alma Arasan Gorge which is about 7km from Almaty City. It is a very scenic place surrounded by the mountains and luxuriant vegetation.
Sunkar Nursery which has bred more than 1000 rare and endangered birds of prey also undertakes to nurse birds hit by car, injured by poachers or animals and abandoned by owners. We were entertained to a falcon and eagle show at the nursery.
This father and son team are expert bird trainers and delight their spectators with a demonstration of the hunting skills of a few birds of prey. We were also enlightened with a deeper knowledge of these birds. 

Each time I see a yurt, I get a little excited as this is a traditional dwelling place of the nomads unique to this part of the world. I saw many yurts in Almaty's mountain area and even dined in one.


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