The Dungan Mosque is a must visit site in Karakol town that is part of each tour when you visit Kyrgyzstan either on your own with a car rent or a tour package. Karakol town is a popular year-round destination because of the largest ski resort in winter and hikes available in the summer. The history of Dungan mosque goes back to1800’s when Chinese Muslims known as Dungans were persecuted during political unrest in China. They found here more tolerant and peaceful and brought diversity the local community and injected the culture with Chinese elements in architecture.
In 1904 a Chinese architect named Chou Seu was invited with his twenty carvers to Karakol to build a mosque following two principal guidelines: the design had to conform to the Chinese architectural tradition, and it had to be built with no nails. These requirements successfully resulted in a mosque with original ways of carving and adjusting each component of the building. The construction took six years and is held up by 42 main pillars. The main color is blue, but yellow and red elements also stand out and they are highly symbolic in Chinese culture.
All along the perimeter of Dungan Mosque is decorated with colorful images of plants and fruits.
During the Soviet purges, the mosque was not destroyed as other eight mosques in Karakol, but the building was repurposed as a storehouse. At the end of WWII the mosque was given back to Dungan community.
Before you rent a car and go to visit Dungan mosque, you need to make sure your clothes are appropriate to enter the mosque. Women can get long coats at the entrance to the mosque, so that they can dress casually throughout the rest of the tour in Kyrgyzstan.