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Forbidden City
Great Wall of China
Summer Palace
Shanxi Provincial Museum
Xi'an and Terra Cotta Warriors
The Huaqing Hot Springs
Mogao Grottoes
The Ancient City of Gaochang
The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves
Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs
Emin Tower
The Karez System
The Grape Valley
The Ancient City of Jiaohe
Flaming Mountain
Taklamakan Desert
Hotan Bazaar
The Ruins of Rawak Temple
Melikawat Ancient City Ruins
Kokmarim Rock Cave
Atlas Cloth
Mulberry Paper
Hotan Carpet
Hotan Jade
Amannisahan cemetery
Yingsar Knife
Abbak Hoja Tomb
The Kashgar Sunday Market
Karakul Lake
The Great Wall

Forbidden City [BACK]

The inside facade view of the grandess of Meridian GateLying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called gugong, in Chinese, used to be the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is called the Palace Museum now. It lies 1 kilometer north of the Tian'anmen Square, with its south gate, the Gate of Devine Might (Shenwumen), facing the Jingshan Park. 960 meters long and 750 meters wide, the world largest palace complex covers a floor space of 720,000 square meters, having 9,999 buildings. The rectangular city is encircled in a 52-meter-wide, 6-meter-deep moat and a 10-meter-high, 3,400-meter-long city wall which has one gate on each side. There are four unique and delicate structured corner towers overlooking the city inside and outside on the four corners. Generally, it was divided into two parts, the northern half, or the Outer Court where emperors executed their supreme power over the nation and the southern half, or the Inner Court where they lived with their royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor in China was driven out of the Inner Court, 14 emperors of the Ming dynasty and 10 emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. About 500 years being the imperial palace, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. It is now listed by the UN as World Cultural Heritage in 1987 and is the hottest tourist magnets.

Dozens of emperors used to sit there and ruled in the throne of the Hall of Supreme Harmony.Construction of the palace complex started in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, and was completed 14 years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including 100,000 artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stones needed were quarried from Fangshan, suburb of Beijing. It was said a well was dug along the road every 50 meters in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amount of timbers and other materials were all freighted from faraway provinces. Ancient Chinese people fully displayed their wisdom in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example, the ladder shaped wall has an 8.6 meters wide bottom and a 6.66 meters wide top. The shape of the city wall totally frustrate attempt to climb onto the wall. The bricks of the wall are said made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites, and these incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow in special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Great Wall of China [BACK]

As one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, Mutianyu section of Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs.The Wall extends for a good 3,000 miles from its origin at the seaside in Shanhaiguan (the Old Dragon Head), a seaport along the coast of Bohai Bay in the east, all the way to Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province. Stretching from the eastern part of Liaoning in Northeast China to Lintao (in modern Minxian) on the desert in the northwest of China, it passes through Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Gansu. The Chinese li equals 0.5 kilometer, so the Great Wall is 10,000 li long in Chinese measurement and hence it is known in Chinese as the Ten-Thousand-Li Long Wall. Serious readers who measure it on the map will find out that the actual distance is only about 3,000 kilometers since the wall zigzags along the mountain ridges!

The Great Wall was a gigantic defensive project used in ancient times as early as in the 7th century B.C. For self-protection, rival kingdoms built walls around their territories, laying foundations for the present Great Wall. When Qin Shihuang (First Emperor of the Qin) unified the whole country in 221 B.C., the existing walls were linked up and new ones added to counter attacks by the remnants of the defeated states. The undertaking of such a huge project over difficult terrain at that time without any machinery was an extraordinary feat. A workforce of nearly a million, representing one fifth of the whole labour force of the country, was used to build it. Hardship and cruel treatment brought death to many of the laborers, and tragic stories were told, from which folk-tales and legends came into being.

Subsequent dynasties continued to strengthen and extend the wall. In the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) about 500 kilometers were added to the west, bringing it to present-day Jiuquan and Dunhuang. The Tang empire (618-907) expanded its territory and pushed its frontier further north, so the Great Wall ceased to be needed as a barrier against invasions. In the Kin Dynasty, a massive system of earthworks was constructed to check the invasion by the Mongols, and remains can still be found in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia. However, the Great Wall did not stop the invasion of the Mongols who conquered the whole country and set up the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). In 1368, when Zhu Yuanzhang drove the Mongol Yuan rulers from the throne and established the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), he started the construction of a new Great Wall to the north of Beijing to secure his northern territories from the remnant Mongol forces since he had established his capital in Nanjing. The wall was built of stone blocks and bricks instead of the rough stones and clay used on the old walls. The size of the Ming wall was much bigger and it stretched from the Yalu River in Liaoning in the east to Jiayuguan in Gansu in the west for a distance of 12,700 li. The part between Yalu River and Shanhaiguan was damaged because of its less solid construction, but the rest has remained until now because it was solidly built. The Manchus had long-time ambitions to conquer the whole of China but they were held back by the Great Wall until a Ming general helped them enter the Shanhaiguan Pass. The Manchu Qing rulers felt it unnecessary to build the wall so very little reconstruction was done.

Today, barbarians from the eight directions all flock to the Great Wall to walk on the only man-made structure visible from space. To look out from one of the guard towers out at the barren mountains and the Wall snaking off into the distance is a view not to be forgotten. Standing on the Wall, you can get a good feel for what the Wall was all about.

Summer Palace [BACK]

Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated, in 1960 by the State Council, as a Key Cultural Relics Protection Site of China. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), during the succeeding reign of feudal emperors; it was extended continuously. By the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. Originally called "Qingyi Garden" (Garden of Clear Ripples), it was know as one of the famous "three hills and five gardens" (Longevity Hill, Jade Spring Mountain, and Fragrant Hill; Garden of Clear Ripples, Garden of Everlasting Spring, Garden of Perfection and Brightness, Garden of Tranquility and Brightness, and Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure). Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public.

Tian'anmen [BACK]

With a total area of 440,000 square meters, Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the center of Beijing. For over a hundred years, many ceremony and demonstrations have been held here. The grandeur of Tiananmen Gate (Heavenly Peace Gate) is a national symbol, with the Great Hall of the People on the western side and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to its east and west. The Monument to the People's Heroes - the 36 meters obelisk, made of Qingdao granite, dominates the center of the square. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Qianmen gate, sit in the south.

Shanxi Provincial Museum [BACK]

Provincial Museum,taiyuanThe Shanxi Provincial Museum (Shanxi sheng bowuguan) houses a large collection of exhibits that attempt to detail the history and culture of this famous province. The museum itself is a large, ancient complex that is built in traditional style, with courtyards encircled by buildings of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) type. The museum is divided into two parts.

The original site where part 1 now lies used to be occupied by the Confucius Temple (Kong miao) that was built in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD). The exhibition halls here all still retain there original names, with rooms such as the Hall of Great Success (Dacheng dian) and the Memorial Hall (Chongsheng ci) now housing an array of artifacts. Part 1 concentrates more on the provinces early history as one of the cradles of the Chinese civilisation, although there are a number of photographs and artifacts highlighting Shanxi's more recent history. The older objects (some neolithic) were mostly excavated or removed from ancient tombs and ruins.

The second part of the museum, probably the more interesting of the two, used to be called Chunyang Palace (Chunyang gong) and was a temple where people offered sacrifice and paid tribute to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) Taoist priest, Lu Dongbin. Housed in the halls here are collections of historical literature, as well as all kinds of ancient cultural relics, including Shang Dynasty bronzes, ceramics, carvings & embroidery, that were unearthed in the province. The palace itself was built by the early 1600s, but was renovated and restored a number of times in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD).

Xi'an and Terra Cotta Warriors [BACK]

XI'AN, Sept. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- A local law to protect the mausoleum of China's first   emperor Qinshihuang will become effective on October 1.

The Shaanxi Provincial Regulations on Protection of the Mausoleum of Qinshihuang were adopted by the 20th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th Shaanxi Provincial People's Congress on July 30 this year. This is the first local law for protection of sites of historical interest in China.

The Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), is located in Lintong County, 35 km east of Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province. The mausoleum is regarded as "the eighth wonder of the world" and was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in December 1987.

Covering an area of 56 sq km, the 70-meter-high mausoleum draws millions of visitors from home and abroad every year. It is believed to be the first imperial mausoleum in China. According to historical records, Qinshihuang mobilized 700,000 workers to build the mausoleum in 38 years.

Nearly 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses along with tens of thousands of pieces of weaponry have been uncovered from three pits, where the terra-cotta warriors and horses have slept for almost 2,200 years. The purpose of the warriors and horses, located less than a mile from the emperor's tomb, were to maintain and protect the spirit of Qin Shihuang, the first man to unite China, throughout eternity.

The mausoleum was accidentally discovered by a group of farmersin March 1974 when they were digging a well for irrigation in the region.

The regulations will protect more than 50,000 historical relics,including all major building structures, ruins of historical sitesin and around the mausoleum, and relics that have been unearthed or are still buried underground.

Yuan Zhongyi, honorary curator of Qinshihuang Mausoleum Museum and a famous Chinese archaeologist, said the regulation is an epoch-making event in the protection of Qinshihuang Mausoleum and the terra-cotta warriors and horses.


The Huaqing Hot Springs [BACK]

The Huaqing Hot Springs, located about 35 kilometers east of Xi'an city at the foot of the Lishan The Huaqing Hot Springs, located about 35 kilometers east of Xi'an city at the foot of the Lishan Mountain is a must for every visitor to Xi'an. For centuries emperors had come here to bathe and enjoy the scenic beauty, and it has been a favorite spa since the Tang dynasty. Huaqing Hot Springs can be conveniently visited on returning from the Terracotta Army site

During the Western Zhou, Li Palace was orignially undertaken here as resort palaces. Later the First Emperor Qin built a stone pool and gave the name "Lishan Hot Springs," and it was extended by the Han Wudi, Martial Emperor. However, the strongest associations are with the Tang and most of the present buildings have a Tang style.

The Hot Springs Palace was built by Emperor Taizong and a walled palace was added by Emperor Xuanzong in 747 A.D. Unfortunately, it was damaged during the An Lushan Rebellion at the middle Tang. The present site was rebuilt on the site of the Qing dynasty structure.

 Mountain is a must for every visitor to Xi'an. For centuries emperors had come here to bathe and enjoy the scenic beauty, and it has been a favorite spa since the Tang dynasty. Huaqing Hot Springs can be conveniently visited on returning from the Terracotta Army site

During the Western Zhou, Li Palace was orignially undertaken here as resort palaces. Later the First Emperor Qin built a stone pool and gave the name "Lishan Hot Springs," and it was extended by the Han Wudi, Martial Emperor. However, the strongest associations are with the Tang and most of the present buildings have a Tang style.

The Hot Springs Palace was built by Emperor Taizong and a walled palace was added by Emperor Xuanzong in 747 A.D. Unfortunately, it was damaged during the An Lushan Rebellion at the middle Tang. The present site was rebuilt on the site of the Qing dynasty structure.

 Mogao Grottoes [BACK]

 Mogao Grottoes is commonly known as the "Thousand-Buddha Caves" or Mogao Caves. It is situated on the cliff of Mingsha (Singing Sand) mountain, some 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang City, Gansu Province. Stretching 1,600 meters from south to north. Mogao Grottoes is a Buddhist treasure house with paintings and murals from 1,600 years ago. The carving work began in 366 AD. Amidst of natural erosion and human destruction, 492 caves have survived. Within those caves, Buddhist murals cover a total wall space of some 45,000 square meters and the number of existing painted clay sculptures is 2,415. There are also five surviving timber structures whose history dates back to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) Dynasties. A gigantic, elegant palace of art, the whole grotto complex is regarded as the world's largest and best-preserved treasure house of Buddhist scriptures, murals, and architectural designs. In 1987, UNESCO entered Mogao Grottoes in its List of World Heritage.

The Ancient City of Gaochang [BACK]

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.

Gaochang Ruins,turpanIn 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.

 The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves [BACK]

The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves, 48 kilometers northeast of the Turpan urban area, are located in the Flaming Mountains' Mutou Valley. They were called the Ningrong Grottoes in the Tang Dynasty. There are 77 numbered grottoes, about 40 of which still have murals in them. The group of grottoes in Bizaklik, with a total of 1,200 square meters of murals, has the most grottoes,lost diversified architectural styles and the richest mural content in the Turpan area. The oldest grottoes were hewn in the period of Qushi Gaochang from the Tang Dynasty right up to the Yuan Dynasty in the thirteenth century. It was an important Buddhist gathering place. Its most prosperous period was under the reign of the Xizhou Huigu government, which was built the royal temple of the King of Huigu on this site. Most of the existing grottoes were extended or reconstructed during the Huigu period.

Flaming Mountains,turpanEven today, one can still see on the remaining Buddhist murals the features of the King and Queen of Huigu and people of different status, as well as scenes of the lives of ancient Uygur people. Inscriptions in the ancient Huigu, Chinese and Brahmi languages are valuable materials for research on the written languages and history of Xinjiang's various nationalities, and Uygur in particular.

The murals depicting "Buddhist disciples wailing in mourning" and "Bhikku wailing in mourning" on the back wall of the Grotto No.33 are rare artistic pieces which depict the inner feelings of the figures with vivid images and individual characteristics. The ancient instruments shown in the mural depicting "Female Dancers on Performance" in Grotto No.16 and the mural of "Transformation in the Hell" in Grotto No.17 are seldom seen in Buddhist grottoes in China.

The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves became an important cultural unit protected by the state in 1961.

 Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs [BACK]

Known as the "Underground Museum" and widely valued by Chinese and foreign archaeologists and historians, this group of ancient tombs is 40 kilometers southeast of Turpan city proper and 6 kilometers from the ancient city of Gaochang. Astana means "capital" in Uygur and Karakhoja is the name of a legendary hero of the ancient Uygur Kingdom who removed the evils from the people by killing a vicious dragon. They are now the names of two local villages.

Buried in these tombs are nobles, officials and others from the period beginning in the Western Jin and ending in the middle of the Tang Dynasty. Curiously, the tomb of King Gaochang is found nowhere in the group of tombs, but the renowned general Zhang Xiong of the Qushi Gaochang Kingdom was buried here with his wife and son Zhang Huaiji. Almost all of the corpses in the more than 500 tombs have not rotted; instead they have become dried-up bodies, a phenomenon more unusual than the mummies found in the pyramids of Egypt. Most of the dried-up bodies are complete and intact. Thanks to the dry and hot climate, many paintings, earthen figurines and thousands of other unearthed cultural relics are well-preserved and as colorful as new ones. The unearthed boiled dumplings of the Tang Dynasty are the same shape as those of today and the stuffing of the dumplings is still fresh. Furthermore, on a bail of horse fodder are written the words "Judge Cen" and "Minister Feng". Judge Cen is the famous frontier poet Cen Shen of the Tang Dynasty and Minister Feng is Feng Changqing, the governor of Beiting Prefecture of the Tang Dynasty. Most of those buried here were people of the Han nationality, but also some minority nationalities, such as the Cheshi, Hun, Di, Xianbei, Gaoche, and Zhaowujiuxing.

Now three tombs have been opened to visitors. Besides dried-up corpses, there are murals depicting figures, birds and flowers on display in the three tombs.

It was classified as an important cultural unit protected by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1957.

 Emin Tower [BACK]

Emin Tower (The Tower for Showing Gratitude to Eminhoja) also called "Sugong 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. It was built by Turpan prefecture commandant Su Laiman to commemorate and praise his father Eminhoja who achieved brilliant military success in suppressing the armed rebellion raised by the Jungar aristocrats.

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 up to one thousand people attending service. During religious festivals, crowds of people stream into the mosque and make the mosque a hive of activity.

 The Karez System [BACK]

The Karez System, an irrigation system of wells connected by underground channels, is considered as one of the three great ancient projects in China, the other two being the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. 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 Depression 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 and gravity 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 and in after years. 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.

 The Grape Valley [BACK]

Looking at the Flaming Mountains in the distance from the city of Turpan, 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.

Cushioned by green grass and graced with green trees, the valley is a world of green with brooks, canals and sparkling springs. There is a poetic flavor to the idyllic beauty of the valley. Scattered everywhere in the valley are trees: mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pomegranate, pear, fig, walnut, elm, poplar and willow; also watermelons and muskmelons, making the valley into a "garden of one hundred flowers" in spring and an "orchard of one hundred kinds of fruits" in summer. In the valley there is a reception center where dense grapevines interweave with each other and winding paths lead to secluded places with clusters of grapes within easy 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 in the valley are of several strains, including the seedless white, rose-pink, mare-teat, black, Kashihar, bijiagan and suosuo. There is a fruit winery producing several kinds of wines and canned grapes.

The Ancient City of Jiaohe [BACK]

Ruins of the ancient city of JiaoheThe Ancient City of Jiaohe is 10km (6 miles) west of Turpan in the Yarnaz Valley. Jiaohe means "intersecting rivers" and the ruins are located on top of a 30 meter (98ft) cliff carved out by 2 long dried up rivers. 2000 years ago, Jiaohe was powerful and important - it was the capital of the state of South Cheshi, one of the kingdoms of the Han dynasty (206-220BC) and was eventually incorporated into the Uighur empire in the 9th century BC. The city was at its cultural peak under the Uighurs, but Mongol rebellions led to its demise and by the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368AD) Jiaohe was deserted.

The dusty ruins reveal the structure of the city - the impressive 1,650 meter (5,410ft) long city walls and the huts, temples, watchtowers, courtyards, streets and wells. A Buddhist monastery complete with dagoba, stands in the center of the city and inside there are the remains of several headless statues of the Buddha enclosed in niches.

The Ancient City of Jiaohe is now on the list of UNESCO's historical and cultural sights, which protects the Tang Dynasty ruins of homes, garden walls, government offices, pottery kilns, temples and pagodas, all of which are still easily recognisable.

By 750 AD, traffic along the Silk Road was at its peak, fueled by a continent-wide hunger for exotic goods and, perhaps even more importantly, a thirst for new horizons and novel ideas. Buddhism was among the earliest cultural exports. Moving east from its birthplace in the Himalayan foothills to China and beyond, Buddhism took root in countless towns and villages along the way. In the Tarim Basin, scholars have collected thousands of manuscripts in a multiplicity of scripts, many containing texts not found anywhere else in the world. In towns like Jiaohe and Dunhuang, Silk Road travelers erected temples to house exquisitely-made frescoes, statues, and reliefs—offerings given in hope of heaven’s blessing for the long, dangerous journey. These treasures display artistic influences ranging from Greek to Indian to Tibetan, and provide intriguing clues about cultural exchange in the ancient world.

It was first the capital of the State of South Cheshi, which was one of the thirty-six states in the Western Region. As described in the dynastic history book The Notes on the Western Region, A History of the Han dynasty, "The State of South Cheshi made the city of Jiaohe its capital, which was circled by rivers flowing by the city, hence the name of 'Jiaohe' (the city of joining 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 preci- pitous cliffs. During the Western Han dynasty, the central government established "Jiaohebi" (an administrative division) and appointed and dispatched a commanding general officer to the Turpan area. During the period from the Northern Wei to the beginning of the Tang dynasty, Jiaohebi was Jiaohe Prefecture under the jurisdiction of Gaochang Kingdom. The Anxi 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. Between the middle of the eighth century and the middle of the ninth century, the city was occupied by Tibetans. After that, it was called Jiaohe Prefecture and fell under the jurisdiction of the Huigu Gaochang Kingdom. At the end of the thirteenth century, it was destroyed in Mongolian aristocratic rebellions. The size of the existing ruins indicates its great prosperity during the Tang dynasty. There are two city gates.The main southern gate is in ruins. The eastern gate is relatively well-preserved, with visible gateways and mortise openings for mounting the gate lintels. There are hideouts built in the gate for soldiers to defend the city. The ruins of the buildings, divided basically into temples, civilian dwellings and government offices, have an area of 220,000 square meters. Entering the southern gate, one can see a 10 meter-wide and 350-meter-long main street leading to the biggest Buddhist temple located in the north-central part of the city. The tower in front of the temple gate is still intact, and standing on top of the tower one can enjoy the panorama of the whole city. There are still some more temples in the city. In the southeastern area of the city are located administrative office buildings and official residences which are the only big buildings built of bricks and tiles. According to researchers, the magnificent, half-underground, two-story building is probably the seat of Anxi's Military Viceroy's Office during the Tang dynasty. The architectural style of the ancient city of Jiaohe differs from that of the city of Gaochang. Here in Jiaohe, courtyards are pits dug in the ground, dwellings are caves opened into the earth and walls are built of tamped earth. Houses are two-storied without windows and doors on the side facing streets and courtyard gates are hidden in deep lanes. The architectural style also features some typical elements of the Tang dynasty. Visitors to the city can still walk along the streets and go through the halls into the charming inner rooms.The ancient city of Jiaohe was classified as an important cultural unit protected by the state in 1961.

Flaming Mountain [BACK]

Flaming Mountain - made famous in Journey to the West. Crust movements and years of efflorescence fashion its unique geological feature. When the sun's ray beat down in mid-afternoon, the red rocks on the crisscross gullies and ravines reflect and the heat is intense as if the hillsides were engulfed by tongues of fire, hence the name.

The Flaming Mountains, lying in the middle of the Turpan Depression and running 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 crustal movements have formed the undulating lie and the crisscross gullies and ravines of the Flaming Mountains. Under the blazing sun, the red rock glows and hot air curls up like smoke as though 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. In recent years, the number of visitors to the mountains has been on the increase and clamoring to go on the Flaming Mountains tour has arisen.

Taklamakan Desert [BACK]

Taklamakan Desert: With a total area of 337.6 thousand square kilometers, Taklamakan lies in the center of the Tarim Basin, it is the scond largest desert on the earth just next in area to the Sahara Desert in Africa. It is 1000km long and 400km wide. In the Uygur language, Taklimakan means "never get back if you go in". Hence it is known as "Sea of Death". Due to size of the desert, shortage of the water resource and easily changable weather condition exploring the desert has been a game of the death and life. Thanks to the rich oil resources found under the Taklamakan desert many roads and constructions are built around and across the Taklamakan desert. One of the construction is the desert highway built from Bugur(Luntai) to Niya (Minfeng) which goes in the middle of the desert made it possible to cross this desert without any danger. Dense forest of diversiform poplar trees and bushes line the two sides of Yeltin River, Hotan River and Chechon River around Taklimakan. Hence comes "oasis in Desert Sea". There is rich quantity of underground water and petroleum.

Hotan Bazaar [BACK]

Hotan' s great bazaar is located in the northeastern corner of Hotan city. it is one of the biggest market in southern Xinjiang. It has 14 special market areas which get flooded by hundreds and thousands of people every Sunday. Often there are more than 100, 000 people shopping on a Sunday in the bazaar. All kinds of special local Hotan products can be bought. In the bazaar beautiful styled dresses can be seen or bought and many sweet fruits and delicious dishes as well as snacks can be tasted.

Imam Asim Ancient TombIt is situated at the northern part of Lop county, 10 kms outside the Jiya township. From Hotan city it' s 23 kms away. The tomb is in a place where farming land and the desert meet. It is said that the tomb belongs to a Muslim missionary who was also a military officer in the first century. Around the grave is a wooden fence, followed by a wall plastered with clay and mud. Nearby is also a mosque for Muslims which is quite impressive. This tomb’s influence is very strong among the local Muslims. Every May more than I0, 000 people visit this tomb local to worship. Many barren Uygur women go there to pray for a baby. Nearby are also two big "toghrak' (a kind of poplar tree) under which ladies are pinning needles into the tree trunk. If some liquid or resin comes out it means that their prayers have been answered. This is one of the worship places of Islam believers.' Tourists also like this place because it' s good for sight- seeing and enjoying the boundless desert scenery.

The Ruins of Rawak Temple [BACK]

It is located in the desert north - west of Jiya Township, Lop County and is 70 kms away from Hotan city. It is the only temple which has a gandara style (similar form as an Indian temple) which is quite well preserved in Hotan district. It prospered and declined from the 2nd to the 10th century.





The Uygur word "rawak" means "pavilion". The Buddhist temple was in the center of a group of Buddhist pagodas. The temple was surrounded by a courtyard wall. Outside and inside the courtyard there were large numbers of frescos, clay sculptures and Buddha figures scattered around. Also some wall paintings were found. On them some stories about Buddhism were painted such as a map of Samara. The clay sculptures and Buddha figures were at- torched on two sides of the wall. Inside and outside of the temple a large number of red and grey pottery pieces and some broken pieces of Buddha figures were scattered around. Aurel Stein inspected and excavated this place twice, once in 1901 and then again in 1906. He carried off large numbers of precious relics. Professor Huang Wen Bi also inspected the place in 1929 and found Buddha figures, frescos and also Wu Zhu coins, Buddhist pearls and different kinds of pottery pieces, etc. The Rawak temple is under the   preservation of the Autonomous Regional Cultural Relics Unit.

Melikawat Ancient City Ruins [BACK]

It is located at the west bank of Yorungkash river and southeast of Hotan city which is 27 kms away. It belongs to the Hah and Tang Dynast-ties. It has been under the Autonomous Regional Preservation of Cultural Relics since 1957. The ruins are from north to south 10 kms long and from west to east 2 kms wide. The west part of the ruins is surrounded by small dunes. The Kunlun Mountains loom in the south and peak out through the clouds. The Yorungkash River in the east winds its way through the desert. Not
far away in the north you can see a village with houses surrounded by green trees. Inside the ruins there are leftovers of houses and ancient tombs. On the western side behind a sand hill there exist 3 mystical caves. So far some bronze Buddha figures, jade articles, clay Buddha sculptures, ancient Uygur styled wall decorations, fresco pieces, potteries and a large amount, of old coins have been unearthed. Among the coins some are "Wu Zhu"coins which belong to the Hah Dynasty and others are "Jian Lun" coins belonging to the Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties. Some others are called "Kai Yun Tong Bao" belonging to the Tang Dynasty. Aurel Stein inspected and excavated this place twice, once in 1901 and then again in 1906. He collected a large number of articles belonging to the Han and Tang Dynasties. Chinese professor Huang Wen Bi has also inspected this place twice, once in 1929 and then again in 1957. He considered that it was the capital of the Yutian country. Some other scholars say that Me- likawat's ruins were once temples.

Kokmarim Rock Cave [BACK]

The Kokmarim Rock Cave is situated near Layka Township, about 34 kms southwest of Hotan city at the east bank of the Karakash river. The cave is located half way up the mountains, about 80 ms above the river bank. The word Kokmarim is Persian and means "Snake Mountain". It is a two -floor cave which is connected by stairs and a ladder. The cave is at the foot of ahill and beside a river. It has beautiful scenery and below the cave the roaring Karakash river is flowing. On the opposite side of the river there are green fields, trees and some villages. The river from above looks like the shape of a dragon, its source springs from the Kunlun Mountains. Walking to the rock cave and then standing on top of the cave looking into the distance you can enjoy beautiful scenery of mountains and the river. According to historical records the rock cave was found by the great master Fa Xian when passing through in 401 B.C. Therefore the cave was called "Zanmu Miao". In his book "The note of Buddha countries 'he mentions that there are three caves at the western part of the rock cave. As they are very deep you cannot see the end of the cave. Historical facts indicate that these three caves were used as a storage place for army officers.

Atlas Cloth [BACK]

The word Atlas means in Uygur language "tie - dyed silk fabric". Atlas is one of the traditional products of Hotan. It has a history of over 2, 000 years. The texture of Atlas is soft, light and graceful. The Atlas silk hasbright colors; the patterns are rich, changeable and have strong local Hotan characteristics. In Jiya township there is a traditional Atlas producing family which retained the ancient technical of silk dying, silk spinning and weaving on wooden looms. Local Uygur girls and ladies like the Atlas silk cloth very much. At the same time many tourists like to buy it as a souvenir.


Mulberry Paper [BACK]

The mulberry paper is a traditional handicraft of the Uygur nationality. At present there is only one family in Hotan district who still produces such paper. The family lives in Hotan city. The art of this handicraft has a history of more than 2, 000 years. According to historical facts the technical of the paper making handicraft was here more than 100 years earlier than Ceylon's invention of the paper. The raw material for the paper consists of the bark of mulberry branches. For making paper pulp, they use the ashes of tamarisk and "toghrak" a kind of a Chinese poplar and boil it together with the bark. The whole work is done by hand. Tourists can obtain such paper as souvenirs.

Hotan Carpet [BACK]

The history of Hotan carpets is as long as 2, 000 years old. The Hotan carpets belong to the oriental style of handicraft and are soht to over ten countries in Europe, America, Australia and also in Asia. The main reason why the Hotan carpets are famous in domestic and foreign market is because of the raw lnateria] used and the precise weaving. The yarn which gets spun by locals comes from the wool of Hotan sheep which has a perfect thickness, is strong and elastic as well. It is shiny and feels soft when touching and these carpets last many years. In 1992 the Hotan carpet factm'y has woven a carpet for the Great Hall of the People in Beijing called "Tianshan Song" (praise the Tianshan moun-tains). This large carpet is 12.5 ms long and 4.5 ms wide. This is one of the largest fine art carpets of the world at present. Therefore it became an unart treasure. In June 1997 the government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has given a large sized tapestry souvenir named "Tianshan Huan Ge" (happy song of Tianshan mountain) commemorating the founding of HongKong' s special administrative area. It was also woven in Hotan by the "Foreign Trade Carpet Factory".

Hotan Jade [BACK]

Hotan is the main jade production center of the world for 2, 000 years. The Hotan white jade is in big demand among the jade products of the world. Since early years the Hotan jade has been transported to mainland China and Eurasian markets in a steady stream. It has become a rare treasure for the nobles in authority. All the seven counties and one city of Hotan district can naturally produce jade, but it is mostly produced from the Yorungkash and Karakash rivers. Every year about 200- 300kgs white jade gets pro- duced. There are too many rare carved treasures from the Hotan jade to mention them individually. The 5,300kgs heavy jade carving called "Da Yu Zhi Shui Yu Shah" which is exhibited in the Beijing Palace Museum is made of Hotan jade. The 3, 473kgs heavy jade carving called "Da Qian Fo Guo Tu" is also a carving from Hotan jade. In 1992 the Hotan Jade Carving Factory carved a big jade screen called "Shou Gu Wu" (tambourine dance) for the Beijing People' s Hall. This gave rise to a big sensation throughout the world. Modern medicine research found out that there are some special trace elements in the Hotan jade. This has a good effect on the human body. If worn for a long 6me it will bring good health, long life and a controlling effect for hypertension, old age as well as venereal diseases.

Amannisahan cemetery [BACK]

Known as the "mother of Uygur music," the "Twelve Muqam" has a long history. Some scholars believe its origin can be traced back to the "Great Western Region Melody" that flourished during the Han (206BC-AD220) and Tang (618-907) dynasties and enjoyed a high popularity in Central China.

In the mid-16th century, aided by other musicians, the imperial concubine Amannisahan of the Yarkant Kingdom, who was also an esteemed poetess and musician, devoted all her efforts to collecting and compiling Muqam music, which was then scattered across Uygur-populated areas. She finally worked out 12 grand, yet light and entertaining compositions that are now known as the "Twelve Muqam."

The music of other ethnic groups is no match for the gigantic and neatly arranged system of the "Twelve Muqam." Strictly following the astronomical almanac, each of the "Twelve Muqam" is divided into three parts: Cong Naghma, Dastan, and Mashrap, each with 25-30 sub-melodies. The whole set of the "Twelve Muqam" consists of 360 different melodies and takes over 20 hours to play in full.

While Muqam is a musical form that has spread in Islamic areas throughout the world, the "Twelve Muqam" carries distinct Uygur characteristics. What is significant about its compilation is that Amannisahan did not borrow material from the wealthy and fully developed Arabian and Persian repertoires. Instead, she exploited the rich resources of Uygur folk music spread out in the wide area in the north and south of the Tianshan Mountains. As a result, the "Twelve Muqam" is especially distinct due to its strong Uygur flavor. Since its spread among the Uygurs, the "Twelve Muqam" has played an inseparable role in the people's lives. They dance to the accompaniment of "Twelve Muqam" and sing songs and ballads to its melodies.

After the founding of new China (1949), the local government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region made every effort possible to preserve the "Twelve Muqam." In 1956, Muqam master Turdi Ahun and musician Wan Tongshu, working with other assistants, took great pains to record most of the vocal melodies and librettos of the "Twelve Muqam" on tape. They also recorded the music by hand. Their efforts paved the way for the renaissance of this cultural tradition. In 1960, two volumes of "Twelve Muqam" sung by Turdi Ahun were published. The oral cultural heritage was finally secured in the form of its first publication.

Over the past two decades, local Xinjiang cultural institutions have sponsored seminars, supported research projects, and published a number of books with the "Twelve Muqam" as the focal theme. Over the past four years, 7,000 performers -- many of them Uygurs -- have participated in the national key publication project. Their concerted efforts have resulted in the release of CDs, VCDs and DVDs of the "Twelve Muqam of Uygur

Yingsar Knife [BACK]

Yengisar Knife daggers are ingeniously handcrafted. They are the famous traditional handcrafts of the Uygur people. The daggers are of unique designs and exquisite workmanship. They not only serve as knives,but also as ornaments,highly appreciated by local and foreign tourists as souvenir of the "Silk Road" Most Yengisar daggers have curved blades, and hilts made of either wood,horn,copper or silk,and inlaid with fine designs and patterns of bright colors,and some are even inlaid with gems,making the daggers a work of art thar is highly valued. Besides the Yengisar daggers, the Kuqa "Peacock Dagger" is also well known near and far. The local men are accostomed to wearing daggers. A man will look quite impressive wearing a beautifully made Yengisar dagger.

Eid Kah Mosque [BACK]

The Eid Kah Mosque is the largest mosque in China and the religious center of Kashgar. The call to Prayer booming from the mosque can be heard throughout the city center. This is a rare thing in Socialist China. The ornate structure of today (renovated and expanded) is based on the original mosque which was built in 1442 for Shakesirmirzha, the ruler of Kashgar. The mosque, constructed of yellow brick, is easily recognizable from its dominant spot on the west side of Id Kah Square.

As long as it is not prayer time or religious holidays, tourists are allowed into the mosque. When you visit mosques, you should always remember that both men and women should always have their arms and legs fully covered. The best time to visit is probably early to mid-morning when there are few  worshippers here.

As the center of religious activity in Kashgar, the area is typically full of pilgrims who have come to worship at the mosque. Sometimes, these pilgrims have religious activities right outside the temple, where they whip themselves into a frenzied dance accompanied by musicians playing from balconies of the Id Kah mosque.

Abbak Hoja Tomb [BACK]

Abakh Hoja Tomb ,kashgar The Tomb of Xiangfei is the most magnificent tomb in Kashgar, filled with history and symbolism. The tomb is commonly known among Chinese as the Tomb of Xiangfei, a Qing Dynasty Uigur woman who was seized by the Qing and forced to marry the Qianlong Emperor. However, the tomb is actually the tomb of her grandfather Bakh Hoja and his family (including Xiangfei).

Xiangfei, whose name means "Fragrant Concubine" is a great symbol to both the Uigur and Han peoples for different reasons. The Uigur see her as a Uigur herione and the Han people see her as heroine of anti-Qing and anti-feudal sentiment. Nevertheless, after Xiangfei died, which according to reports was a forced suicide ordered by the jealous Empress Dowager, her body was carried back to Abakh Hoja Tomb in Kashgar over a tedious three year journey.

The buildings of the Hoja Tomb are large and mosgue-like with most of the building colored with blue and white and topped with a green dome and small minarets. On the dome, there is a small minaret with a crescent symbol on the top. The tomb of Xiangfei herself lies on the northeast corner of the main tomb, with her name written in Chinese and Uigur. The tomb is covered with blue glazed bricks with beautiful patterns of blue flowers on a white background.

The Kashgar Sunday Market [BACK]

The Kashgar Sunday Market (Dabazha) (with exception of the Sunday Market) is the busiest part of the city. The market is a kind of agricultural market (Nongmao Shichang), that has expanded to include anything you can think of, inlcuding clothing, knives, and more.

As an expansion on the same theme, Kashgar is also home to a weekly Sunday Market (Xingqiri Shichang) that takes place on the northeastern outskirts of the city. Conservative estimates put that area at least 5,000 stalls that see traffic of around 100,000 people daily. The mixture of people of different ethnic backgrounds from all over Central Asia descending on Kashgar to trade and buy various wares give the market an incredible atmosphere, so it is worth braving the crowds. The goods available include pots and pans, clothing, utensils and knives, and even live animals such as donkeys, goats and horses.

Karakul Lake [BACK]

Karakul Lake, known as "the father of glaciers", is located at the foot of Mount Maztagata, sitting at 3,600m above sea level, measuring 30m deep, and covering an area of more than 100,000 square kilometers.

The trip out here from Kashgar takes travelers 200km through treeless sand dunes, past grazing camels and yaks until suddenly this dramatic and spectacular lake appears by the roadside, as if from nowhere. The surface of this huge lake reflects the snow-covered peaks of Mount Muztagata, which towers in the background.

The unusual shape of the mountain (it appears to have been divided into two parts) is associated with Chinese legend. The story goes that a beautiful princess living on the Mountain was in love with the snow mountain prince, who lived on nearby Mount Gogir, the second highest mountain in the world. The prince's evil father, who disapproved of this romance, used a stick to divide the two connecting mountains and separate the couple. The poor princess, overcome by grief, wept and wept until her tears turned to glaciers. The mountain now glitters with ice (apparently formed by her tears) and is covered in snow all year round.

Lake Karakul and Mount Muztagata ,kashgar There are some great hikes and walks around here, and the area is especially nice in the summer, when the flowers on the trees bloom, the air is fresh and temperatures are pleasant. It can get very cold at this altitude however, so bear in mind that you may need to take extra clothing with you to keep warm. The entire lake can be walked in one long day. You can also spend more time here, staying in the Kazakh Yurts or camping if you have your own tent.


The Great Wall [BACK]

The Great Wall To the northwest and north of Beijing, a huge, serrated wall zigzags it's way to the east and west along the undulating mountains. This is the Great Wall, which is said to be visible from the moon.

Construction of the Great Wall started in the 7th century B.C. The vassal states under the Zhou Dynasty in the northern parts of the country each built their own walls for defence purposes. After the state of Qin unified China in 221 B.C., it joined the walls to hold off the invaders from the Xiongnu tribes in the north and extended them to more than 10,000 li or 5,000 kilometers. This is the origin of the name Of the "10,000-li Great Wall".

The Great Wall was renovated from time to time after the Qin Dynasty. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today is almost exactly the result of this effort. With a total length of over 6,000 kilometers, it extends to the jiayu Pass in Gansu Province in the west and to the mouth of the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east. What lies north of Beijing is but a small section of it.


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