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Urumqi,the Beautiful City in the Heart of Asian Continent(5)--A City of Multiple Religions
(Tianshannet) Updated: 2010-July-27 16:09:07

V A City of Multiple Religions

Urumqi has many ethnic minority groups. You may find all the 47 ethnic minority groups of Xinjiang in Urumqi. These ethnic groups have different religions, i.e. Islam, Christianity,Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism and Orthodox and these religions consist the unique religious culture of Urumqi.

The Tatar Mosque is located at the south end of the Jiefang Road in Urumqi. It was constructed with the funds donated by Tatar people in 1897. In 1919, a locally based German company contributed money to rebuild the mosque and so it was also called Yanghang Grand Mosque (Foreign Firm Grand Mosque). The Tatar Mosque is the main venue of ethnic religious activities for people of the Uygur, Tatar, and Uzbek. It is also an open mosque and tourists from China and abroad may access the mosque once they have got an approval in advance. The visitors may also get into the mosque to watch Muslims doing worship. According to the rules of Islam, women are not allowed in mosque. However, women tourists may also step into the Tatar Mosque if they get approval beforehand. The mosque occupies an area of more than 3,000 square kilometers and the grand prayer hall is about 800 square meters. The front porch is richly decorated with many carvings and colored drawings. The prayer hall has four rooms and the floor is fully carpeted. The ceiling is of typical Tatar architectural style.The prayer hall could accommodate about 4,000 Muslims to worship. Seventy to eighty percent of the funerals in the city are hold here.

The Khan Tengri Grand Mosque is located at Nanmen (south gate) of Urumqi. So it is also called Nanmen Grand Mosque. It was built in 1882 and was rebuilt in 1902. Before 1987, it was expanded on the basis of Nanguan Mosque and renamed as Khan Tengri (meaning king of the kings) as it is today. It is only one of the big mosques of the Uygur in Urumqi.

Khan Tengri Grand Mosque

The mosque that has been renovated is located at Nanben and overlooking the street. It faces east and looks majestic,beautiful and elegant. Four grand minarets surround a dome in the middle. On both side of the central dome are two small domes. The building has distinct elegant Islamic architectural style. The mosque has four storeys, of which two storeys are above the ground and two storeys underground. The ground floor is the store of the mosque. The second floor is above the ground and is the residence area. The third floor is the grand prayer hall. The fourth floor is the classrooms for the Koran study. The whole mosque looks lively and is a combination of strong Islamic style and modern architecture. The minarets and the crescent top are solemn, grand, majestic and striking.

The Shaanxi Grand Mosque (also called East Grand Moque) is a mosque of the Hui people. It is located at the north end of the Jianzhong road in Urumqi and occupies a floor area of 600 square meters. It was built during the reign of Emperors Qianlong and Jiaqing. In 1909 (the 32nd year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu), it was ever renovated and expanded. Different from other mosques in the city, the Shaanxi Grand Mosque is in the traditional brick joisted structure of the Han people in the Central Plains and has glazed tiles coved its top. It faces east and is over 10 meter high. The front part of the main hall has single-eaved saddle roof. Forty big red pillars support the entire structure, which looks grand and beautiful.On the arch are inscribed texts of the Koran. The inscription is amazingly fine and exquisite. In the rear is the Wangyue (gazing moon) Tower, where imams ascend to see if the moon is out and proclaim the beginning of fast. It is a double-eaved octagonal pavilion. Such architect is very rare in Xinjiang.

Most of the residents living around the Shaanxi Grand Mosque are Hui people. You can see Muslims wearing small caps everywhere. All the shops by the mosque sell Muslim food and goods and these shops have very distinct Islamic feature. In order to protect the historical site, the government has apropriated 500,000 Renminbi in total. In April of 1984, the repair project of backout bracket for the restoration of the main hall started. The project was completed in 1985 and made the main hall rise by 1.1 meters.

(SOURCES:China Intercontinenal Press)Editor: Chengli

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