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Petroglyphs of Tamgaly Tas

This open-air temple protects Tibetan rock and cave paintings from the 17th century.

Like an open-air temple on the side of the Ile River, Tamgaly Tas is an incredible site with Buddhist petroglyphs carved into the rocky cliffs rising up from the valley. The 17th-century artworks in the area show Tibetan inscriptions, deities, and religious imagery. The text can still be read, praising the teachings of Buddha with gracious speech.

Although the names are similar, Tamgaly Tas is not to be confused with the World Heritage Site of Tanbaly, which is about 120 kilometres to the west. This site is focused on Buddhism and the masterful cave art features the deities Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Buddha Bhaisajyaguru and Buddha Shakyamuni. The imagery highlights Tibetan mantras, art techniques, and folklore.

The site is spread out along the Ile River on 15 rocks, each with ornate examples of iconostasis. They have been well preserved and maintain a high degree of authenticity. The petroglyphs are an important part of the cultural history in the region and the large size, unique appearance, and religious inscriptions separate them from their Stone Age equivalents in Central Asia.