There isn’t much space devoted to places like Sary Mogul, Kyrgyzstan in guidebooks. Sary Mogul is one of those places that is typically seen as a stopping off point, or a place to have a sort of layover, perhaps in the midpoint between two more noteworthy destinations. But for whatever reason, I was immediately struck and fascinated by the place. Neat rows of one-story mud houses, free-roaming cows and pigs, a lack of vegetation (save for the odd potato plant), and the curious people made it very hospitable, and I found it to be an absolute delight to explore and photograph.
Places like Sary Mogul, traditionally, shouldn’t exist in Kyrgyzstan. Sary Mogul, like it’s larger neighbor to the east, Sary Tash, were founded in the 1940s by Soviets in an attempt to supply nearby Murghab with potatoes and livestock. Murghab was a strategic point along the Pamir Highway, connecting the major parts of the southern Soviet Empire with the relatively more Russified Kazakh and Kyrgyz Soviet Social Republics. Thus, Sary Mogul came to existence to support another town that wouldn’t exist if it were left to the rules of traditional Kyrgyz nomadism. It was truly a manufactured place, and in that respect, it had been given a blank canvas for independent cultural development. Read more