The Dungan Mosque is one of the most interesting sights in Karakol, along with the Holy Three Church.
The Dungan Mosque is a very special building associated with the large Dungan diaspora in Karakol and has a history of more than 100 years. In 1877, a civil war broke out in China between Chinese Muslims and followers of traditional Chinese religions. The Chinese Muslims were subjected to severe oppression, forcing more than 300,000 people to flee across the Tien Shan Mountains to Kyrgyzstan, where many of them settled, including in Karakol. These Chinese Muslims were called Dungan and are still known as such today.
After settling in the city, the Dungans decided to build a mosque for themselves, for which a well-known architect from Beijing, Zhou-Si, was invited. The construction of the mosque took three years and has a special feature: The wooden construction was put together without a single nail and is still intact after 120 years.
The first thing that catches your eye when you see this amazing building are the clearly Chinese motifs. The roof of the mosque is painted in different colours and the mosque has an interesting sloping roof, a traditional feature of Chinese buildings. Also striking are the amazingly intricate wood carvings that adorn the facades of the building.
It is a unique monument of Central Asian architecture that has almost no equivalent. The mosque is open to tourists, though women are advised to cover themselves with a headscarf, which they can purchase for free at the entrance to the mosque. It is also recommended that non-Muslims do not enter the mosque, but limit themselves to viewing the grounds and building from the outside.