Yashilkul is one of the beautiful lakes in the Eastern Pamir. The length of the lake is 25km, its width is 4km, and its depth in some places reach 50 meters. The name of the lake is taken from Kirgyz language and means ‘Green Lake’. The water temperature does not exceed more than plus 14 degrees Celsius. It has crystal-clear water. The lake came into existence when the flow of Alichur river was blocked. The length of the obstruction is more than 4km with a height of 100-110m high. The Alichur River originates in the eastern part of the Pamir and flows into the Yashilkul. It is the shallowest stream in the eastern part of Yashikul. A vivid green spot distinguishes the place where the river waterfalls into the lake.
Legends about Yashilkul
Once upon a time this place was ruled by an unbeliever (kafir) king. There was a pious man working in his court. This man had two beautiful daughters, named Rano, and Gul. The king liked these girls and waited for the moments to take them away from their parents. He deceived the poor man by lending him money, which the poor man could not pay back. At the end the king took his daughters instead of the money. The man was in despair, but he had dream which directed him to go to a certain place to find a person name Murtuzo Ali and seek some help from him. He travelled to distant lands to meet Ali and explained his grief to him. Ali accompanied the poor to the courr of the king. Ali disguised his identity and asked the poor men to sell him to the king. The king had three demands for freeing the man’s daughter. Ali responded to all of the these demands. The first demand was to bring the skin of the dragon (azhdahor), the second condition was to build a water canal, the third condition was to bring two lions from the wild forest. Then the king announced the fourth condition which is to bring the head of ‘Ali. At that moment ‘Ali revealed his identity and struct the king with his sword Zulfiqar and freed the man’s daughters. The kingdom of unbeliever king had flooded, and the lake emerged. The Tajik population living in Murghob also call this lake Sumankul. According to another story a girl named Suman met a young boy and they fall in love. They made a promise to each other that they will marry and live together until the last minute. However, Suman was about to be married to another man by force. Suman took a horse and ran away. Local men tried to catch her, but Suman jumped into the lake and disappeared. Since then, this lake is called Sumankul.
There is a hydro sulphury thermo spring called Issik Bulak near the shore of this lake. The spring is surrounded by dilapidated mud made structures (probably shrines or mausoleum). Locals consider it sacred. One of these small muds made structure has a catchment pool to get water from thermal spring. The shores of the lake are steep, rocky, made of granite-gneisses, inaccessible in places, often along the water there are scree and boulder moraine. Its water is clean and transparent, with greenish color. The water temperature is around 8-10 degree in summertime. There is not that much organic life in this lake. There are two types of fish living in the lake such as marinka (Schizothorax intermedius) and capital char (Nemachilus stoliczaki). The Yashilkul shores are almost uninhabited, apart from some birds and yaks. Yashilkul is suitable place for fishing, climbing, and for sightseeing, visiting nearby stone circles and several Saka (Scythian) burial sites. Traces of ancient mining settlements (probably from the 11th century AD) also exist in the area. The remains of a caravanserai (or tombs) and a hot spring Sumantash (Bekbulat) are visible at the eastern end of the lake. Trekking route from this lake can take visitors to the village of Bachor in Ghund, and to the village of Bardara and to the Lake Sarez in Rushon.
Routes to Yashilkul
Yashilkul can be reached both via car road and trekking/hiking routes from various destinations. It can be reached from Murghob driving for 100 km via Pamir Highway (M41) and then taking a detour to the right side through the dirt road around 45-50km leading to Bulunkul village and then Yashilkul. The other means to reach the site is from Khorog driving through the M41 road for 150 km passing Koitezak Pass detour on the same place as can be done from Murghob side, reaching Bulunkul and Yashilkul lake.