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Kyrgyzstan: Karakol mosque

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Karakol mosque | Kyrgyzstan | Asia

[Visited: July 2010]

After concluding that the Sunday animal market is, in fact, only on Sunday, I realized I still had a lot of time on my hands before I could even have breakfast, as I had had a very early start again that morning. Walking back to the town, I remembered that I was passing close to a mosque that seemed to be special, so I made a small diversion to visit it, hoping it would be open. Fortunately, the gate was, even though there was no one around. Or, so I thought. An old woman appeared from behind a small building, and started to pull my sleeves. She was carrying a bunch of roses in her arms, was reeking of alcohol, and I pitied her from the start. But she would not let me go - after all, chances were that I would be the only person she saw in the next hour. She had no reason to let go. So she rambled on in Russian, her pulls on my sleeves and her taking me by the arm were always more persistent, so she was starting to annoy me. Even though I did not understand exactly what she was aiming at, it was easy enough to guess. Yes, she was after money, and I was determined not to give her any. Finally, she understood and left me alone.

Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Pagoda-like roof and minaret of the mosque of Karakol

Then, I could finally go to the mosque itself. Was it a mosque? A wooden structure, finished in 1910 by a group of Chinese artisans without a nail, and apparently, a very vivid image of Chinese Buddhist temples in their minds. The shape of the beams, the colour of the building, the wooden columns supporting the roof that is much wider than the building under it: I guess even an expert might think this to be a Buddhist temple, at least from a distance. But it is not - it is a functioning mosque, closed only during ten years under the Bolsheviks. Unfortunately, I was too early even though the sun had already risen to the sky more than half an hour before, and it was a Friday. So, I had to do with peeking through the unwashed windows for a view of the curious interior.

Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Wooden minaret of the mosque in Karakol

I walked slowly around the mosque, trying to look inside, and hoping someone would show up to open the door for me. Meanwhile, I strolled around the orange painted wooden columns supporting the pagoda-style roof, and was even more amazed at the structure when taking a closer look from below. The eaves of the roof, the beams supporting it, the Arabic calligraphy on the brightly coloured wooden panels on the exterior wall, the elegant, yet square minaret with the fragile golden moon on top of its roof, they all made for a unique mosque. When, after soaking in the atmosphere and closely inspecting the structure, the mosque was still very much abandoned and it did not seem anyone would show up any time soon, I decided it was time to leave. My stomach was begging for breakfast.

Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Arabic calligraphy on an exterior wall of the wooden mosque of Karakol
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): The wooden mosque of Karakol
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Karakol mosque seen from one side
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Window of the mosque of Karakol
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Blue beams supporting the roof of the mosque of Karakol
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Minaret of Karakol seen from below
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Interior of the mosque of Karakol
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Wooden columns of the mosque of Karakol
Picture of Karakol mosque (Kyrgyzstan): Top of the minaret of the mosque of Karakol

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