The highest point of the Koytendag mountain range, one of the spurs of the Gissar Range bordering the southeastern border of Turkmenistan, is Mount Airybaba. It is not only the highest point of this mountain range, but also of all the mountain systems of Turkmenistan. Its height is 3139 meters above sea level.
Translated from Turkmen, Ayrybaba means “divided holy mountain” (Ayry – separately, baba – a holy man or grandfather). The inhabitants of the foothills of Koytendag have an ancient legend about the origin of the name. According to legend, during the Great Flood, Noah had to stop his ark on the top of Airybab. The mountain was very proud of this and constantly boasted of its greatness. God found out about her arrogance and decided to punish the proud woman. He canceled Noah’s proposed stop. The ark only rammed the mountain, literally breaking its top into two parts. The mountain became two-headed, and the depression existing between them still resembles a trace from the ark.
According to another legend, one holy man ascended from the top to heaven. His followers built a grave out of stones on a rock. It is located at the edge of the gorge. Only a narrow path separates it from a cliff about 500 meters deep. According to local belief, the pilgrims, having risen to the top, must necessarily bypass the grave. If he sinned a lot and led an unrighteous life, there is a chance to fall into the abyss. Fortunately, local residents do not remember such cases, although every year about fifty people climb to the holy place.
Around the grave, pilgrims build hills from small stones. The platform at the top is literally strewn with these miniature imitations of the saint’s grave. They are common among the local highlanders; provide a pilgrims with a long and happy life.