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Urumqi

     Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region, is sitting on an alluvial fan at the northern foot of the Tianshan mountains, with the Junger basin in the north and surrounded by mountain ranges in the east, west and south. The Urumqi river flows through it from south to north. Covering an area of 11,440 square kilometers with an elevation of 680 to 920 meters, urumqi is the political, economic, cultural, science and technological center of the xinjiang autonomous region, as well as the hub of communications

linking the region with the rest of the country.The place where Urumqi stands was a pastureland in ancient times, but during the sui dynasty, trade began to be conducted between the region and the interior of the country, which further brought in the advanced civilization from the central plains. During the tang dynasty, troops were stationed in the urumqi area to develop the land and to build frontier fortifications. During the Ming dynasty, a city was set up in the present Jiujiawan district of urumqi, but it was destroyed by fire in the junger rebellion. in 1760’s, a new city was built and named " Dihua", which, in Chinese, means "enlightening and civilizing". In 1884, the Xinjiang province was established and dihua city became its capital. In 1954, five years after liberation, the city was renamed urumqi.

     Urumqi has a population of 1.5 million, including the Uygur, Han, Hui, Kazak, Manchu, Mongol, Xibe, Russian and other ethnic people. The annual mean temperature in Urumqi is 7.3 centigrade but the highest temperature in history was 42.1 centigrade and the lowest was -41.5 centigrade.

SuGong Tower

     Sugong tower,also called "emin tower" and "the Turpan tower" by the local uygur people, is located 2 kilometers east of the city of Turpan. Built in 1778, it is the biggest tower in xinjiang and has an architectural style all its own. 
     In the shape of a cone and built of bricks arranged in fifteen patterns of rhombuses, ripples, varied four-petal flowers, and mountains, The tower is 37 meters high and 10 meters in diameter at the base. The tower has 14 windows opened in different directions and at different heights and a seventy-one-stepped spiral flight of stairs leading to the top.
At the entrance of the tower stands a stone tablet erected when the tower was built, on which is recorded, in Uygur and Chinese, the reasons for building the tower.

Next to the tower is the biggest mosque in the Turpan area, and the two form an integral whole. The rectangular mosque has a hall in its middle and an arched gate with a pointed top. The hall can hold as many as one thousand people attending service.

 

TianChi Lake

     Sprawling on the waist of mount bogda of Tianshan mountains and 100 km east of urumqi, Tianchi lake, like a sparkling pearl imbedded in tianshan mountain, runs 4,9 square km wide and 90 meters deep. It is a moraine lake fed by thawing snow runoffs and is about 1,980 meters above sea level. Snow-mantled peaks and sky-soaring dragon-spruce are among other things that define tianchi as a scenic place with prismatic splendor.


 

The Karez System

   The karez system is an irrigation system made by well-connected underground channels. There are in the turpan area nearly one thousand karez totaling 5000 kilometers in length.
The structure of the Karez basically consists of wells, underground channels, ground canals and small reservoirs. In spring and summer, a great mount of melting snow and rainfall flow down from the Bogda and Karawuquntag mountains north and west of the Turpan basin into the valleys and then seep into the gobi desert. Taking advantage of the mountain slopes, the working people ingeniously created the karez to draw the underground water to irrigate the farmland. The water in karez will not evaporate in large quantities even under the scorching heat and fierce wind, hence ensuring a stable water flow for irrigation.

As far back as the Han dynasty, the Karez was recorded in shi ji (the historical records) and then called "well canals". Most of the existing karezes in the turpan area were built in the Qing dynasty. nowadays, large stretches of fertile land are still irrigated by karezes. The Wudaolin Karez and the Karez in the Wuxing town are open to visitors.
 

Flaming Mountain

     The flaming mountains, lying in the middle of the Turpan basin and stretching from east to west, are one of the branch ranges of the Tianshan mountains and were formed in the organic movements of the Himalayas fifty million years ago. 
     In millions of years, the natural weathering and the numerous folded belts caused by the crust movements have formed the undulating surface of the mountains with the crisscross gullies and ravines. Under the blazing sun, the red rock glows and hot air curls up like smoke as if it were on fire, hence its name. The mountains are 98 kilometers long and 9 kilometers wide. The highest peak is 40 kilometers east of the city of Turpan and 831.7

meters above sea level.The flaming mountains are so hot and so dry that " flying birds even 500 kilometers away dare not to come". Yet, the mountains at the same time act like a giant natural dam of the underground reservoir in the basin.

     Situated on the north route of the ancient silk road, the flaming mountains have many cultural relics and often told ancient tales.

The Grape Valley

    Looking at the flaming mountains from a far place, one can see nothing but glowing, barren red sand. But the grape valley of the flaming mountains, 15 kilometers from the city center, is a world of unique beauty, presenting a striking contrast with the hot, dry and barren outside.
With green grass and green trees, the valley is a world of green with singing streams, canals and sparkling springs. There is a poetic flavor to the idyllic beauty of the valley. Scattered everywhere in the valley are trees, such as mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pomegranate, pear, fig, walnut and so on, as well as watermelons and muskmelons. All these make the valley into a fruit garden with blooming flowers in spring and many kinds of fruits in summer. In the valley

there is a reception center where dense grapevines interweave with each other and shadowing paths lead to inner place of the green world with clusters of grapes within reach.8 kilometers long, half a kilometer wide and inhabited by about 6,000 people of the uygur, hui and han nationalities, the grape valley has more than 400 hectares of cultivated land, 220 hectares of which is grape-growing area. grapes growing here are of several strains, including the seedless white, rose-pink, mare-teat, black, kashihar, bijiagan and suosuo.
 

          Beziklik Thousand-buddha Grottoes

The beziklik thousand-buddha grottoes, 48 kilometers northeast of the turpan, are located in the flaming mountains' mutou valley. There are 77 numbered grottoes, about 40 of which still have murals in them. With a total of 1,200 square meters of murals, the group of grottoes in beziklik has the most grottoes, most diversified architectural styles and the richest mural content in the turpan area. The grottoes were hewn in the period of several centuries from the tang dynasty right up to the yuan dynasty in the thirteenth century.

Today, one can still see on the remaining buddhist murals the features of the king and queen of huihu and people of different status, as well as scenes of the lives of ancient uygur people. Inscriptions in the ancient huihu, chinese and brahmi languages are valuable materials for the research on the written languages and history of xinjiang's various nationalities, and uygur in particular.

The bizaklik thousand-buddha caves became an important cultural unit protected by the state in 1961.
 

GaoChang Ancient Town

    The ancient city of gaochang is located near the seat of the "flaming mountains" township 46 kilometers southeast of the city of turpan. the city walls are high and the crisscrossing streets and the city moat are still visible. the city walls, which are basically intact, divide the city into three parts: the inner city, the outer city and the palace city. The 5.4 kilometer-long wall of the square outer city is 11.5 meters high and 12 meters thick. The wall is built of tamped earth, with some

section repaired with adobe. There are two gates on each side of the outer city and the two on the west side with defence enclosures outside the gates are the best preserved.
The inner city, which is located in the center of the outer city, has a 3-kilometer long wall, most of the west and the east sections of which are well preserved.

     The rectangular
palace city is in the northern part of the city of gaochang and it shares the north wall with the outer city and uses the north wall of the inner city as its south wall. There are still several 3 to 4 meters high earthen platforms in the palace city where the court of huigu gaochang kingdom was seated.

     In the north central part of the inner city, there is a high terrace on which stands a square pagoda built of adobe called "khan's castle" which means "imperial palace". Somewhat to its west there is a half-underground, two-story structure which was probably the ruins of a palace.

     In the southwestern part of the outer city there is a temple which is 130 meters long from east to west, 85 meters wide from south to north and covers an area of 10,000 square meters. The temple consists of an arched gate, courtyard, a lecture hall, a library of sutras, a main hall and the monks' dormitory. murals remaining in the main hall are still visible. The renowned buddhist monk xuanzang of the tang dynasty is said to have lectured in the temple for more than one month in the year 628 on his way to india to obtain buddhist scriptures. In the vicinity of the temple there are also ruins of workshops and market sites. In the southeastern part of the outer city there is a smaller temple, the ruins of the murals within which are better than those in the main hall.

     The construction of the city of gaochang started in the first century b.c. first called gaochangbi, it was a key point on the ancient silk road, but after many changes in fortune over a period of 1,300 years, and under the jurisdictions of the gaochang prefecture, the gaochang kingdom and huozhou prefecture, the city was burnt down in wars in the fourteenth century.

     It was classified as an important cultural unit protected by the state in 1961.


 

JiaoHe Ancient Town

     The ancient city of jiaohe is located in the Yarnaz valley thirteen kilometers west of Turpan. It was the capital of the state of south yarkhoto, which was one of the thirty-six states in the western region. Bounded by two rivers, thus the city was named jiaohe, which means “confluence of two rivers”. Built on a loess plateau 30 meters high, the ancient city is 1,650 meters long and 300 meters wide. The city has no walls and is protected by the natural fortification of the precipitous cliffs. 
    During the western han dynasty, the central government established "Jiaohebi" (an administrative division) and dispatched

commanding officers to the Turpan area. During the period from the northern wei to the beginning of the tang dynasty, jiaohebi belonged jiaohe prefecture under the jurisdiction of gaochang kingdom. the xiyu military viceroy's office, the highest civil and military administrative organ set up by the tang government in the western region, was first established in the city. After that time, it was called jiaohe prefecture and fell under the jurisdiction of the huihu Gaochang kingdom. At the end of the thirteenth century, it was destroyed in mongolian aristocratic rebellions.

     Today, debris and dilapidated walls and bare foundations are what remain of the place, but the inexorable pace of history is nevertheless keenly felt from the city layout and vestiges of yamens, monasteries, pagodas and back alleys.
 

Sayram Lake

    With an altitude of 2,073 meters above sea level, the 450-square-kilometer Sayram lake to the southwest of bole is xinjiang’s largest alpine lake. The grasslands and mountain slopes ashore are studded with yurts, while big herds of cattle and sheep graze in the meadows. during the nadam festival, here is the site of a variety of merrymaking activities.
 

 


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