This cemetery may be new in comparison with the one in the centre of the village but, most probably, it was founded in the 18th century if not earlier. Anyway, it remains one of the two largest cemeteries of Polish Tatars, who come to visit their family graves on the days of Muslim holidays and find their resting place here after death. And it is a...more
Bohoniki boasts one of only three mosques in Poland. The first mosque was built here before 1717, when the number of Tatars living in Bohoniki came close to 50 and there were more living in the neighbouring villages of Drahla, Malawicze and Kamionka. The present mosque though dates back to the 19th century and was built after the old one had burnt...more
The Old Mizar or Tatar Cemetery is situated by the main road east of the Mosque. Actually, the first early-18th-century Mosque in the village is believed to have stood on this site as well. The name 'mizar' or 'miziar' is said to be of Turkish origin and the Polish Tatars owe it to their ancestors - political refugees from Turkey, which was then...more
This restaurant is part of the Pilgrim's House and caters for the faithful and tourists visiting the Mosque. It is run by two or three Tatar ladies so here is your chance to try Tatar cooking. It may not be suitable for those on a slimming diet, but it certainly is delicious and filling. And it must be the only restaurant in Poland overlooking a mosque. The service is excellent and prompt - the ladies are really nice and will offer advice on what to order. The prices are lower than at the Tatar restaurant in Kruszyniany.
Favorite Dish: We ate there twice but would have tried all their dishes if we had stayed longer. I can't remember the Tatar names of all the dishes we had but we did manage to try quite a few.
The first time Chris had kolduny (special dumplings) in broth, which were just gorgeous, and I had a kind of hot baked pieróg (dumpling) with apple and cinnamon, which I liked so much that the next time we both had one with cottage cheese and a piece of one with meat.
We also had dumplings with forest mushrooms filling, just as delicious (pierogi z kurkami).
To drink, we had homemade Tatar 'kompot' - a drink made from fruit with cinnamon added, excellent and very cheap. Oh, what a feast it was!
If you love frequenting nightclubs, discos or any other conventional places of entertainment, Bohoniki is not for you. What you will find here instead is the soul-soothing peace, not even interrupted by the dogs' barking, so common in most Polish villages. After the deafening noise of Warsaw streets, it was a balsam on our nerves, a haven so hard to find in our reality.
We spent an hour or two each evening on the swinging seat outside our house, overlooking the lawn and the Mosque right across the road. It was dark around us but the orange light of the street lamp gave shape to the Mosque, which looked so tiny and beautiful at the same time. And when the full moon rose above it, I was truly elated. We stayed there for some time looking at it until the cold night air sent us to bed for another peaceful night.
Dress Code: Anything warm.
The best way to get to Bohoniki is by car - there is not much traffic on the roads even if you are driving from as far as Warsaw. From Bialystok you can take the road via Suprasl and see the Monastery of the Annunciation and the Museum of Icons on the way. You are not likely to meet many lorries along this route as opposed to the road leading to Sokólka and the border crossing with Belarus at Kuznica Bialostocka. Having a car will also be useful to explore some other interesting places in the area, like Kruszyniany or Krynki.
But, if you have to use public transport, take a train to Sokólka and a bus or taxi from there. It is only about 6-7 kilometres but the buses are few and far between. Or better - bring your bicycle on the train and enjoy the empty country roads.
Many wooden houses in the village have their corners decorated with simple patterns, as is the tradition in the area. You don't see those in any other part of Poland. I am not sure if the choice of the pattern means anything, perhaps each family has a different one?Our house did not have such a pattern but it was a brick house not a wooden one. But...more
While waiting for your meal at the Pilgrim's House look around and you will see a small exhibition of traditional Tatar attire - beautiful colourful jellabiyahs and headgear among other things. I simply loved their colours and oriental patterns. Peek into the hall leading to the kitchen and you will find more there. Chris says they could be for...more
Take a walk along the village's main and only street and enjoy the view of the old wooden houses, often with pretty little gardens, on both sides. Most of them date back to the early 20th and some even to the 19th century. In quite a few of them the lived-in part of the house adjoins the part for the farm animals and the barn. Near the old Tatar...more
Situated along a dead-end road leading to the Belorussian border, which is also the border of the European Union, Bohoniki is the quietest village we have ever stayed in. There is hardly any traffic as the road leads no further than to the few tiny villages before the border.
As we had some time left on our third day there we thought it would be nice to explore them.
As we approached the first village, Malawicze, we saw this windmill on a hill near the road and thought we would walk to it. It was old and dilapidated, obviously no longer used but some of the machinery was still there. While Chris was examining it, I took a look round at the rolling fields with a house or two and no other sign of life.
Our guidebook says there is another, this time working,windmill at nearby Minkowce, which you may find more interesting. We did not go there as the dirt road did not look good enough for our small car. Anyway, the only guidebook to the area that we could get was written 15 years ago, so things may have changed. To get to Minkowce, you must turn right into a dirt road at Malawicze.
The little guided tour of the Mosque at Bohoniki is a most enjoyable experience. After taking off your shoes, you are told to sit on the carpet in the middle of the floor or in the chairs near the door. Your guide, dressed in a jellabiya worn over her everyday clothes, sits down on the steps of the minbar and the story begins. And it is a story of Islamic religion and beliefs as well as of the local Tatars, their traditions and ways of practising Islam, told in such an interesting way that even children stop fidgeting and listen to her. You'd better listen carefully for your guide has the habit of checking your knowledge at the end of her talk.:)
But the most interesting part of the tour, not only for the children, comes at the end when you are allowed to try on some items of Islamic attire and your lady guide helps you put them on correctly. I had to do with just a 'tarha' - a whitish scarf worn so as to hide the hair. Inevitably, what follows is a photographic session as everybody wants a picture of themselves dressed like this. Before you leave, you can buy some postcards or publications on the subject of Islam. We bought a set of postcards with reproductions of paintings of all the mosques that existed in pre-war Poland and saw the original paintings later at the Regional Museum in Sokólka.