Founded in 9th century and renamed in honor of the poet Yusuf Balasagun, it located in the Chu river valley and neighbored Lake Kara-Kol? (Ozero Issyk Kul in Russian). For many years Balasagun was one of the largest cultural and economic center of Central Asia. The ancient city stretched from the eastern end of modern Tokmak to the lakeshore at its largest extent.
Its prosperity decayed after Mongolian conquest and now appears only as a village with plenty of ruins for tours, 12km southeast of Tokmak.
The Burana zone, located in the suburb of Tokmak and 6km from the village, was the west end of the ancient city. 80km east of Bishkek is the Burana Tower in a field of stone petroglyphs, the bal-bals.