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乌鲁木齐闲逛记 A Stroll Through Urumqi (2)

wh  10-11-14 23:04


I love religious architecture, so of course I wasn't going to pass up the great opportunity in Urumqi.

Our first stop was Khan-Tengri Temple on Jiefang South Road, North Section. "Khan-Tengri" is a Uygur term which means "king of kings". Originally called "Southern Pass Mosque", the structure came to be known as Khan-Tengri Temple after expansion. Four tall minarets embrace the large dome in the center, flanked by a smaller dome on each side. The Khan-Tengri Temple is a classic piece of Islamic architecture and consists of two levels. The upper level is the mosque, while the lower level consists of shops selling merchandise from all over Central Asia. Semi-circular staircases installed on the exterior of the building allow for access to the upper level.


We next made our way over to Hezhou Mosque on the east side of Jianzhong Road, Middle Section, and walked straight into the compound. Towering in front of us was the glittering green dome atop the basilica, with four smaller domes and conspicuous silver crescent moons adorning the four corners. According to reports, the mosque was first built at the end of the 19th century, burned down during the Republic period (1912-1949), and later rebuilt by Kuomintang officials from Hezhou. In 1977, it was seized by an Urumqi waste collection agency and demolished, replaced by a residential complex. The residences were demolished in 1982, and the mosque was finally rebuilt in 1988.



Shaanxi Great Mosque is located in an alley off of Jianzhong Road, North Section. It is the largest Hui mosque inside the city of Urumqi. The rapid development of the city has left Shaanxi Great Mosque submerged in a sea of high-rise buildings, and it was hard to find a good angle for a photograph. One of the friends with me happened to spot a gentleman relaxing on the balcony of his third-floor apartment opposite the mosque, and she managed to persuade him to let us in for a photo. Unfortunately, the view from his balcony was obstructed by electric poles and electric wires, and I still couldn't get in a complete shot of the mosque. I was most amazed by this kind gentleman who could thus trust a stranger; through him I felt firsthand the warmth and friendliness of the Xinjiang people.

After explaining to the staff that we came just to take pictures, we stepped into Shaanxi Great Mosque, dating back to 1906. Shaanxi Great Mosque is different from other mosques in that the main hall was constructed in the traditional brick and wood style of the Central Plains, with seats on the west facing east. Vermilion red columns hold up the roof beams of the main hall. Inscribed over the arched doorway is a verse from the Quran, engraved most exquisitely. As non-Muslims we were not allowed to enter the main hall. A few Muslim women wearing white head scarves passed by us, and our gaze followed them as we quietly departed from Shaanxi Great Mosque.

The content and photographs of this article are taken from Piaochen's blog The text was abridged to fit the requirements of the column. We thank the original author for authorizing the reprint and for his enthusiastic support.



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