|Elevation||1,753 m (5,751 ft)|
Barskoon, Barskon or Barskaun, ancient Barsgan, Barskhan or Barsqan (Russian and Kyrgyz: Барскоон; Persian: بارسغان) is a settlement on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul in the Issyk-Kul Region of Kyrgyzstan. Its population was 6,912 in 2009. It is on the A363 highway between Bokonbayevo to the west and Kyzyl-Suu to the east.
According to his testament Pand nāma, Saboktagin was from the tribe (or place) of Barskhan and according to C. E. Bosworth's summary in the preface of the book, the tribe was "so named because in ancient times, one of the rulers of Persia had settled in Turkestan and become a ruler there. He was called Pārsi-khwān that is, one who is literate in Persian, and this became contracted to Barskhan."
Barskoon is a village at the mouth of the Barskoon valley - which has an impressive Barskoon waterfall and is a good centre for trekking and horse riding. Just to the west is the village of Tamga-Tash, which is named after a rock ('tash') with a Buddhist inscription dating from the 3rd to 8th centuries, which the locals interpreted as a Tamga.
Ancient caravan routes dispersed from here, ancient Barsqan, to the East and South, to China and India; the ruins of a caravanserai provide evidence of those times. The 11th century scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari (also known as Barskhani) was a native of this area. He is best known as the author of the first Turkic languages comparative dictionary which he wrote whilst living in Baghdad in 1072-4. His map of the then known world has Barskon at the centre of the world. His tomb is South of Kashgar - on the road to Pakistan. The modern town began as a military post.
The road south from Barskoon which passes up the Barskoon valley (A364) used to be one of the routes of the Silk Road, passing over the Bedel Pass (4,284 metres (14,055 ft)) into China (the section from Kara-Say to Bedel Pass is now closed). It is now the main road leading to the Kumtor Gold Mine - hence it is well maintained and there is a reasonable amount of traffic - including lorries making their way up to the mine and back.
In the spring of 1998, a lorry carrying cyanide used in the gold refining process was involved in an accident - leaving the road and crashing into a stream - polluting the waters and decimating the tourist industry around Lake Issyk Kul as many tourists cancelled their planned holidays.
There are two interesting sights along the road - a Soviet lorry mounted on a plinth and a bust of Yuri Gagarin, who holidayed on the South shore of Issyk Kul after his historical first manned space flight.
In the mountains to the East is a region known as syrt - an "alpine cold desert" located at average altitudes around 3,600 metres (11,800 ft). A364, one of the few good roads into the mountains in southern Issyk-Kul Region, goes south down the valley, over the Barskoon and Söök Passes to Kara-Say in the Naryn valley and then east to Ak-Shyrak. The road from here to Engilchek is currently not passable as of 2017. Barskoon is the home of Shepherd's Way Trekking.
- 2009 population census of the Kyrgyz Republic: Issyk-Kul Region at the Wayback Machine (archived 10 August 2011)
- Bosworth, E. C. (1978). "The heritage of rulership". Iranian Studies. 11: 25. doi:10.1080/00210867808701538.
- Barskoon Valley in Orexca.com