Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kyrgyzstan Trip Log: Day 4 and 5 - Around the Lake

The fourth and fifth days of our trip took us along the northern shore of Issyk Kul to the eastern town of Karakol and then along the southern shore of the lake to the Chon Kemin valley.  On the northern shore of the lake, we stopped at a Scythian burial site where there were a number of burial mounds or "Kurgans" before continuing our drive around the lake. 

A northward view near the Issyk Kul's torpedo testing site
We arrived in the town of Karakol around noon.  Karakol is Kyrgyzstan's fourth largest city.  It boasts a TSUM, a collection of colleges (including a teacher's college), and two significant religious sights.   It is known to have a great ski resort, and also as the sight for Soviet submarine underwater torpedo tests during the Soviet Era.

Two men talking outside the Mosque

One of Karakol's most picturesque sites is the Dungan Mosque.  This Mosque was built of peg and beam construction in 1910 by the Chinese-Muslim "Dungan" population in Karakol.  Along with several other monuments in town, the mosque reflects traditional Chinese architectures, and has exquisitely detailed wood carvings both inside and out. 

The other major religious site in Karakol is the Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Like the Mosque (and the Zhenkov Cathedral in Almaty), the Cathedral was built using peg and beam construction.  It was constructed in 1895 and was used primarily as a Dance and meeting hall during Soviet times.  Several Original furnishings and decorations were saved from destruction by members of the congregation of this church.

Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Karakol is also home to the grave and memorial museum of the great Russian explorer Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky.  Przhevalsky made several expeditions during the nineteenth century from Russia, through China and Central Asia in an attempt to reach Tibet.  He died in Karakol before accomplishing his goal.
Memorial Przhevalsky constructed within sight of the lake.

On the fifth day of our trip, we drove westward along the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul.  We stopped briefly in valley called Jety Oguz which our guide said means "seven bulls."  About halfway up the valley is a picturesque red-rock formation that looks like a broken heart when looking up the valley, but looks like seven rushing bulls when looking at the opposite side.  So as one final thought before ending this post, I leave you with two pictures and a question.

The broken heart

The Seven Bulls
The Question.

Tomorrow's Post:  Kyrgyzstan Trip Log: Day 6 - Horseback riding in the Chon Kemin Valley and Experimental Education in Kyrgyzstan (I know it's a long title, but it is the last one for the Kyrgyzstan trip.  I think you'll survive).

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