Western China (Xinjiang)

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (in abbreviated form - Xinjiang, historical name - East Turkestan) is a vast region in the far northwest of China. 

Xinjiang occupies the area - 1.82 million square meters ², which is one sixth of Chinese territory. Xinjiang has a long land border 5,600 km with eight countries: Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan. The region also borders the Chinese provinces Gansu, Zinhai and Tibet Autonomous Region. 

The northern part of the territory is sandy-loamy Junggar plain, the southern one is Kashgar plain (Tarim Basin), a huge sandy Takla Makan desert is situated in the central part of this plain. The high-mountain ranges of Eastern Tien Shan and Kun-Lun up to 7719m (peak Kongur) lie between plains. Major rivers are the Tarim River, the upper Ili, Irtish. Major Lakes are Lop Nor, Bagrashkel, Ebi-Nur, Tiens. The climate is arid and sharply continental. 

The population of Xinjiang is more than 26 million people. Xinjiang is inhabited by 47 nationalities, the most numerous of them are the Uigurs, the Chinese (Han), Kazakh, Dungan (Huei), Oirat Mongols (Kalmiks), Kirgiz, Cibo, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Manchurs, Daurs, Tatars and Russians. Once-famous center of Russian and Kazakh emigration Inin (Kulja) is situated in the border area of China and Kazakhstan, where one of the official people of the region - Russian Xinjiang are remained. Here in 1954 Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Area was established. 

Xinjiang is one of five national autonomous regions of China. The capital and the largest city is Urumqi, with a population of over one million people. Other major cities of Xinjiang are Kashgar, Turpan, Tashkurgan, Hotan, Aksu. 

The rich history, world-famous architectural monuments and ancient culture of Xinjiang attract numerous of tourists. Tours of the ancient Silk Road (Kashgar, Khotan, Yarkand, Turpan, Kurla, Tashkurgan, Aksu, Urumqi, etc.) are especially popular and also adventure tours in the mountains and rock climbing to the peak of Muztag-Ata (7546 m).

Urumqi sights

Urumqi is a cultural, administrative, commercial and tourist center of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. It is a huge metropolis with the population about 3 million people. Due to its geographic location it was the major trading city of the northern branch of the Silk Road in ancient times. Urumqi has become the largest shopping center in China for the last 20 years - it is a real paradise for shopping tours. Any city in China cannot offer a greater variety of goods than Urumqi. All products are delivered here from many factories in different provinces.

There are not so many monuments of ancient history in Urumqi, but tourists can enjoy many other interesting sightseeing objects. Natural landscape areas are situated in 20-70 km from Urumqi in the Tien Shan Mountains. They are the most beautiful places of China and it is not without the reason that Urumqi is translated from the ancient Mongolian as "beautiful pasture".

Tian Shan mountains

The Tian Shan, also Tien Shan, is one of the world's largest system of mountain ranges located in Central Asia. The mountain ranges has several ocal names. The Chinese name for Tian Shan may be derived from the Xiongnu language name Qilian, which was described by Sima Qian in the Records of the Grand Historian as the homeland of the pre-Xiongnu peoples of the region, the Yuezhi, and has been said to refer to the Tian Shan rather than to the range 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) further east now known by this name. The nearby Tannu-Ola Mountains bear the same name.

The famous peaks of Tian Shan Mountains are Khan Tengri(7,010 m), Pik Talgar(4,979 m), Bogda Peak(5,445 m), Vladimir Putin Peak(4,446 m), Xuelian Feng(6,627 m), Sauyr Zhotasy(3,840 m). The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak (Jengish Chokusu), 7,439 metres (24,406 ft).

Tianchi Heavenly Lake

Located 110 kilometers east of Urumqi, Tianchi Lake occupies an area of almost 5 square kilometers. The name of the lake translates as "Heavenly lake". The Snow-fed lake is crescent-shaped and got its name from Tianshan Mountain, which feeds the lake.

The lake was known as Yaochi (Jade Lake) until it was renamed Tianchi in 1783, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), by the commander of the local garrison. The lake is located 2,000 meters above sea level and is 105 meters deep at its deepest point.

There is a legend associated with the lake. According to legend, the West Queen was entertaining King Mu of the Western Zhou Dynasty (110BC-771BC) at the lake when she fell in love with the king. She asked the king, in a poem if he would come back. The king answered with a poem saying he would return after helead the Chiense people to a prosperous life.

 Urumqi Bazaar

Grand Bazaar, located in Xinjiang Province Urumqi City is an unforgettable place. Located on the Ancient Silk Road, the city of Urumqi has had a huge bazaar for thousands of years. The bazaar is very unique and combines cultures and has stalls selling an incredible selection of items from the local Uyghur Ethnic Minority Group, Russia, and China. Carpets, silk, musical instrument, embroidery, jade, and so much more can be found in the bazaar.

Xinjiang carpets are famous for their artistic beauty and craftsmanship. Made of wool, their bright colors and designs reflect the Uyghur people.

Atlas silk, a local fabric worn by the Uyghur people is known for its bright colors. The silk is very soft and used by the local people in their clothing and also as an interior decoration for their homes.

The Grand Bazaar offers visitors a chance to mingle with locals and see what life has been like for the residents of Urumqi have lived for centuries. The bazaar also has a banquet hall, mosque, and open-air stage.

The Xinjiang Regional Museum

 

Located in Urumqi Xibei Road, the Xinjiang Regional Museum is a large integrated museum and centre for the collection and study of cultural relics in Xinjiang. The museum architecture built in 1953 with featured Uighur ethnic internal decor style and has an exhibition hall covering an area of about 7,800 square meters (approx. 9,328 square yards).  

The museum houses over 30,000 collections. One of the hall exhits the costumes, festival, celebration, marriage wedding & funeral rites, tools, food, religion, lifestyle and more folk customs of 12 ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang. The historical exhibition covers silk, cotton, embroidery, pottery,  porcelain, iron & bronze wares, tomb clay figures, coins, stone inscriptions, literature writings, weapons and more relics. These give an insight into the past and show how the society of Xinjiang developed and the splendid western China's culture thousands of years ago.  

Red Hill Park

Red Hill Park (Hongshan Park) is a pleasant spot to visit to get your bearings when you first arrive in this modern city. The views from the top of the mountain of the surrounding countryside and breathtaking mountains, make the steep (but short) climb worthwhile.
 
The mountain peak stands 1391 meters above sea level. Climb up to the top, where you can stop and sit down for a drink and enjoy fabulous views over the city with the snow capped mountains behind. Numerous legends are associated with the mountain, including a few scary tales about a dragon that inhabits the hillside!
 
A Qing Pagoda (Zhenlong Ta) can be found half way up the mountain. This was built by one of the emperors to ward off the evil dragon and his spirits! There are also a few fairground rides within the grounds here, and a lake to boat on. This is a popular spot.

Nanshan Mountain Grasslands

Urumqi Nanshan Grasslands or Southern Pasture (Baiyang gou included) are a natural paradise, with scenery and surroundings such as natural spruce forest on snow mountain, wild animals such as snow leopard, wild goat, red deer and palm bear are running on the grasslands, beautiful birds are flying in the sky, which are similar to that at Heaven Lake.
 
Nanshan grassland area, 75km south of Urumqi city, is the base of the Tian Shan mountain range. The visitors can go hiking on the great land around gushing valleys and hillside waterfalls falling for ginseng herb. The Kasakh people like to spend their summers here. The travlers can take a horseback tour with a Kasak guide, climb over the mountains and stay in a traditional yurt.

Turpan sights

Astana Tombs

Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs in Turpan are the public underground cemetery of the ancient Gaochang residents, both aristocrats and commoners. Portrait of a servant, mid-8th century, colour on silk, Tang Dynasty, from ancient china.

Ayding Lake

Turpan Ayding Lake is a salt lake in the Turpan Depression, Xinjiang,which is used now as a setting for extreme sports or hikes. 

Jiaohe Ancient City

Located 10 kilometers west of Turpan in China’s Xinjiang Province, the Jiaohe Ruins is an archaeological site which was an important stop on the Ancient Silk Road. It is the largest, oldest, and best preserved earthen city on earth. The city of Jiaohe was the capital of the Jushi Kingdom from 108-450BC. The city was the highest level military post in the West of China. The city was built on a large islet in the middle of a river. The location made it easy to defend the city and so no city wall was made. The river had high cliffs on either side, creating a natural defensive structure.

The site was partially excavated in the 1950’s. The city occupied an area of 220,000 square meters. The city had a central avenue which ran north and south and separated the city into three parts. The east and west of the city was the residential districts and the northern section was reserved for Buddhist sites. At the northern end of the central avenue is the well-preserved Jiaohe Temple which occupies an area of 5,000 square meters. After 2,000 years of prosperity, the city was abandoned in the 13th century, after it was invaded by Genghis Khan. The remains in the city date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The buildings were dug down into the earth and the earth was used to make the walls.

The Flaming Mountains

Located in China Xinjiang Province, the Flaming Mountain is a barren, eroded, red sandstone mountain. The erosion of the sandstone rock has given the mountain an appearance of being on fire. The Flaming Mountain is located 10 kilometers east of Turpan City near the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The area is one of the harshest in China with temperatures often reaching 50°C. When the Ancient Silk Road was in operation, the Taklamakan Desert was avoided by merchant traders. The mountain’s highest peak is over 800 meters high. It rises above Shengjinkou Pass, a pass located near the Ancient City of Gaochang.

There are many origin legends surrounding the mountain. In the classic Chinese novel Journey to the west, the Monkey King goes up to heaven, wrecks the place, and after stealing pills of immortality created in a magical oven, knocked the oven over, causing the coals to fall to earth and they became the Flaming Mountain.

According to the local Uyghur Ethnic Minority Group’s tradition, a dragon lived under the Tianshan Mountain. The dragon destroyed villages and ate children in the surrounding area. A Uyghur hero killed the dragon and chopped his body into eight pieces. The dragon’s blood became the mountain and the eight pieces of his body became the eight valleys in the Flaming Mountain.

Ancient Gaochang Ruins

Located at the foot of the Flaming Mountain, 30 kilometers southeast of Turpan City in China Xinjiang Province, the ancient Gaochang Ruins are all that is left of an ancient oasis city that was a major stopping point on the Ancient Silk Road. The ruins are a favorite with visitors and are easily accessed. The ruins include the remains of the old palace, Buddhist temples and stupas, and residences and shops.

The ancient city of Gaochang was built in the 1st century BC as a garrison town. It was a key transporation hub on the Ancient Silk Road. Originally part of a small kingdom, during the Han Dynasty (206-220), the kingdom pledged allegiance to the Han Dynasty emperor and in 327, a garrison was set up in the city. After that, Gaochang remained part of China. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the Gaochang area was besieged by the Mongols of another tribe that were not part of the Yuan Dynasty, and destroyed. It was never rebuilt. For 2,000 years, the city has remained untouched and the ruins are magnificent.

The ruins occupy an area of over 2,000 square meters. The city was composed of three sections, an outer city, inner city, and imperial city. The city was enclosed by a city wall built of rammed earth. In the southeastern and southwestern section of the inner city were two Buddhist temples. Their ruins are still there and one still has its murals. Although the city is in ruins, they are incredibly picturesque and exploring the ancient city is a unique experience.

Bezeklik/Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves

The site is complex of Buddhist cave grottos dating from the 5th to 14th century. The cave groups sit 45 kms away from Turpan city at the north-east of the Taklamakan Desert near the ancient ruins of Gaochang in the Mutou Valley, a gorge in the Flaming Mountains, China. The caves high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountains, and most of the surviving caves date from the Uyghur Kara-Khoja kingdom around the 10th to 13th centuries.

The Bezeklik/Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves is famous for ancient muralsWith with exsiting 60 caves, and over 40 caves have ancient murals of 1200 square meters. The site is complex of Buddhist cave grottos dating from the 5th to 14th century. The cave groups sit 45 kms away from Turpan city at the north-east of the Taklamakan Desert near the ancient ruins of Gaochang in the Mutou Valley, a gorge in the Flaming Mountains, China. The caves high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountains, and most of the surviving caves date from the Uyghur Kara-Khoja kingdom around the 10th to 13th centuries.

Bezeklik Murals 
Pranidhi scene, temple 9 (Cave 20)There are 77 rock-cut caves at the site. Most have rectangular spaces with rounded arch ceilings often divided into four sections, each with a mural of the Buddha. The effect is of entire ceiling covers with hundreds of Buddha murals. Some murals show a large Buddha surrounded by other figures, including Indians, Persians and Europeans. The quality of the murals varies with some being artistically naive while others are masterpieces of religious art.  
The murals at Bezeklik have suffered considerable damage. Many of the murals were damaged by local Muslim population whose religion proscribed figurative images of sentient beings, the eyes and mouths in particular were often gouged out. Pieces of murals were also broken off for other uses by the locals. During the late nineteen and early twentieth century, European and Japanese explorers found intact murals buried in sand, and many were removed and dispersed around the world. Some of the best preserved murals were removed by German explorer Albert von Le Coq and sent to Germany. Large pieces such as those showing Pranidhi scene were permanently fixed to walls in Museum of Ethnology in Berlin. During the Second World War they could not be removed for safekeeping, and were thus destroyed when the museum was caught in the bombing of Berlin by the Allies. Other pieces may now be found in various museums around the world, such as the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Tokyo National Museum in Japan, the British Museum in London, and the national museums of Korea and India.

Karez Underground Water System

Turpan has a name the 'Fire Prefecture' and 'Home of Winds' for its very dry climate, Nevertheless, there are vast luxuriant and green oases around. The secret lies in the networks of wells and irrigation channels spreading underground like vascular nets, which provide the lifeblood of Turpan.This subterranean canals or underground water system was built by the local people inaccordance with local weather and hydrological conditions.
 
This irrigation system uses gravity and the slope of the land to direct water flow into underground channels, thereby lessening the effects of evaporation under direct sunlight. The system comprises wells, underground drain channels (some up to 8km long), and collection wells (where the water reaches a certain level and runs into above ground irrigation channels). In the entire system, there are over one thousand wells and the total length of the channels reaches 3,000km. The most astonishing fact is that this feat of engineering was all completed by hand using simple tools.
 
Karez wells are a successful application of the sinking technology of the Central Plains in the Turfan area. It is a historic inheritance and promotion of the sinking technology of the Central Plains, and plays a very important role in the study of the sinking technology both in the Central Plain and in the Middle and West Asia. There are more than 1400 Karez wells in Turfan. The total length amounts to more than 5000 km with an annual runoff volume up to 300 million cubic meters, surpassing the total runoff volume of the Flaming Mountain water system. 

Karez well can realize irrigation by water flowing automatically, which means low cost in running the system. It reduces evaporation, and avoids contamination caused by sand storm, to ensure the regular flow of irrigation water. It is stable in runoff volume and good in water quality to meet the standard for drink and irrigation. The technological requirement for the construction of the Karez well is not very high, and there is no lining for protection. The cover material is very simple and handy in local places with rather low cost. The total length will surpass 4400 km which is longer than the Yellow River, which is the "cradle river".
 
In the oasis of Turfan, Karez wells nourish the crops, nurture the people in this oasis and provide water sources for the passing merchants who are traveling through the great desert. As the great irrigation project initiated by the ancient people, it is a great undertaking which benefits both the contemporaries and later generations.   

As an ancient irrigation system, the Karez well system has ever played a very important role in the daily life and in the production of the people in Turfan area. Though there is highly advanced electromechanical irrigation system, the function and position of the Karez system can not be superseded completely. 
 
Turpan Museum

Turpan Museum is a museum in Turpan, Xinjiang, China. It has items from the Tang dynasty excavated from the Astana Graves which are located outside the town. Items include ancient silks, clothes and preserved corpses. 

Turpan Museum is regarded as the second largest museum in Xinjiang only after Xinjiang Regional Museum. Being on the route of the famous ‘Silk Road’, Turpan assembled traders and monks from western and eastern countries. Therefore, this place is left with abundant multi-cultural relics, which is also due to its special natural conditions: torrid, dry and rainless. It houses more than 5,000 artifacts displaying the charming history of Turpan.

Grape Valley

Grape Valley sits on the western slopes of the Flaming Mountains, thirty-minute drive northeast from the Turpan county. Looking at the Flaming Mountains in the distance from  the city of Turpan, one can see nothing but glowing barren red sand. Only the Grape Valley, presenting a world of unique beauty, is a striking contrast with the hot, dry and barren outside.
 
With green grass and trees, the Grape Valley is a world of green with brooks, canals and sparkling springs. Like a silvery chain, a stream of water rushes down for fifteen kilometers irrigating the whole valley, and the slope sides are covered mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pomegranate, pear, fig, walnut, elm, poplar and willow; also watermelons and muskmelons. Chatting, laughing and singing, gaily-dressed Uygur girls move about in the green foliage with their wicker baskets picking grapes. That is a poetic flavor to the idyllic beauty in the valley.
 
The Grape Valley is praised as "garden of one hundred flowers" in spring and an orchard of one hundred kinds of fruits in summer. 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.

Kashgar sights

“Kashi” is the short form of Kashgar in Mandarin Chinese , it’s more than 5000km far from Beijing and more than 1460km far from Urumqi.  With population about  one million people, it is located of southwest of Tianshan mountain range , east part of Taklimakan desert which is the second largest desert in the world all called desert of no return or dead sea ,covering an area of more than 337000 square kms and west corner of Pamir Plateau. Elevation is 1220 meters above from sea level , landscape of Kashgar is very difficult , south part is lower and north part higher.

It is a city that epitomizes life during the times of the Silk Road caravans and Great Game struggles despite all of the recent Chinese modernization. Walking the small, mud-brick alleyways of the Old Town is an exciting adventure and the area surrounding Kashgar has a lot to offer

Because of its location at the foot of a major mountain pass (not the Karakoram Highway heading into Pakistan) and along the edge of the world’s 2nd largest desert (the Taklamakan), Kashgar was an important hub of activity for Silk Road merchants. Throughout the centuries, power shifted between many groups including the Mongol, Han and Uyghur people.

Kashgar has been a favorite of many travelers for over 100 years. It offers great scenery – access to both the mountains and the desert – as well as many interesting sites to see. Walk through the alleys of the Old Town, visit the Apak Khoja Mausoleum, visit the famous Sunday market and of course take a tour of the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in all of China.

Abakh Khoja Mausoleum

The Abakh Khoja Mausoleum, located 5 kilometers northeast of Kashgar is a masterpiece of Uyghur architecture. The holiest Muslim site in Xinjiang, the mausoleum was built in the early 17th century as the tomb of Muhammad Yusuf, a Central Asian Naqshibandi Sufi (a part of Islam) Master who came to the region. Five generations of his family are buried in the mausoleum.

According to local legend, the most famous occupant of the tomb is Iparhan, one of China’s Four Famous Beauties, who was to be the concubine of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). According to legend, she refused to serve the emperor and was either forced to commit suicide or was murdered by the Emperor’s mother, depending on which story you are told. In reality, she lived with the emperor for 28 years before dying at the age of 55. She wished to be buried in her hometown of Turpan, but she was buried in Beijing in the Eastern Qing Dynasty Tombs. Her clothing was brought back to her tomb in the Abakh Khoja Mausoleum to be buried. This was common practice for people who were buried far from their home areas. The ancient cart and casket which carried her clothing is still at the mausoleum.

The Mausoleum is square in shape topped with a large dome and with a minaret on each of the four corners. The mausoleum is covered with green glazed tiles and the minarets are decorated with stripes and floral patterns. Each of the minarets’ windows are shaped with a different geometric pattern. The 58 tombs inside are decorated with blue glazed tiles. The mausoleum is located in an area of 5 acres which is surrounded by a wall. Just inside the gate is a large courtyard which has a gate tower, worship halls, a doctrine-teaching hall and the mausoleum. Located inside the walled area are several other halls and a cemetery.

Kashgar Old Town and Gaotai ancient homes

Located opposite the Id Kah Mosque and city centre, the Kashgar Old Town District cover an area of 4.25 square kilometers with a population of 126. 8 thousands. With a a history of over 2,000 years, The old town district is the best place to see how the local Uyghur ethnic group has lived for centuries.   

The layout of old district is featured by a dense network of criss-cross streets and lanes, as well as distinctive Uyghur building. The building is made up of earth, wooden block and brick structure. Workshops can be found throughout the area. Artisans make pottery, metalwork, knives, clothing, Muslim hats, and traditional folk crafts. 

In the old city district of Kashgar, Gaotai Ancient Homes is the most typical Uyghur dwelling house. With a history of over 600 years, Gaotai dwelling is located at a small loess highland, northeast end of Kashgar old district. It offers a unique sight of Uyghur architecture and ethnic culture.  

Uyghur Gaotai homes are built with earthed bricks and tied to the cliff for generations. For the Uyghur families there, each new generation is given birth, one new floor will be added to on original base of the buildings. So the dwelling area has been densly criss-cross for centuries. Without local guide, visitors are very easy to get lost in the maze.      

Kashgar Bazaar

any streets in the old districts of Kashgar have bazaars. But the most bustle Kashgar Bazaar is locted at the city east gate and, is known as the largest international trade market & fair in Northwest China, even in ancient central Asia. 

In ancient times, Kashgar is a key stop on the Silk Road. Its bazaar was one of Asia's largest distributing center of commodities. The merchants who started out from Xian always met here no matter what route they went through the Tianshan Moutains. 

Before 1992, Kashgar grand bazaar was only held on Sunday. So that foreiners called it Sunday Bazaar on travel guidebooks. In fact, the market is open everyday for people, but the highest busy tide still comes on Sunday. Today's Kashgar has preserved the old traditions.    

The bazaar has been thriving for over two thousands of years. Now there are more than 5000 stalls, 10000 sorts of goods, 0.1 millon of people everyday flows on the market. On the streets one can find markets selling various commodities, such as vegetables, fruits, food, garments, tools and handicrafts. Kashgar's markets differ from markets in other places in that most of the commodities on sale are made by the vendors themselves. Here tourists can see the handicrafts actually being made in the workshops. At the shoes and caps market, the caps and boots on sale are made on the spot. One can hear the clanging of blacksmiths' hammers. If you hear the sound of an electric saw, then you can go and see carpenters making furniture and kitchen utensils.

Going ahead, If you smell the fragrance of baked cakes, you will soon find an eating place serving Nang, the staple food of the Uygur people. The nang is broken into small pieces and dipped in soup. It is said nang can be kept for weeks without going stale.

According to the Uyghur traditions, the grand bazaar is divided into over 20 special markets for firewoods, carpets and blankets, piece goods of cloth and textile fabrics, live stocks, means of production, knife tools, dry fruits and more. Among them, Mal Bazaar or the livestock market on Sundays, is the most attractive, where locals from all the surrounding villages come to town to buy and sell animals. It is held on an open and fenced ground. It is popular with tourists, but the market is so big it still feels like a working bazaar. At last, the daily Yengi Bazaar must be referred, which has a great variety of handicrafts, cloths, carpets and anything-else-you-can-expect market for tourist selection. Less crowded on weekdays. Bargain hard! 

Id Kah Mosque

Id Kah' means 'a place of praying and celebrating in festivals'. The Id Kah Mosque is located on the central square in Kashgar City, Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region. As the biggest mosque in China, it is a group of old Islamic constructions with strong ethnic style and religious features.

It is said that this place was once a cemetery. The present Id Kah Mosque was built in 1442 as a very small structure. Several renovations and enlargements have created it with today's scale and style.

The whole complex occupies 16,800 square meters (about 4 acres) and consists of the courtyard, the Hall of Prayer, and the gate tower and as well as some other attached structures.

Just inside the gate is a big courtyard. In it, the poplar trees reach the sky and the pines grow vigorously like boys and girls in their adolescence. The whole yard is heavily shaded, making you as cool and comfortable as if you were in an air-conditioned environment. A pond with limpid water is a bright mirror enclosed by the green trees. It endows the place with a quiet elegance.

 The Hall of Prayer is on a high dais in the west end of the mosque. The roof is held by light blue pillars and all the pillars form a rectangular shape. Around the roof and the pillars are exquisite carvings and beautiful pictures. The brick gate tower faces the Id Kah Square. This tower is full of elaborate flower-pattern carvings, mainly in green.

Every day thousands of worshippers come here to pray. Every Friday afternoon, Muslims living far and near gather here to worship. During religious festivals all the Muslims in Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region come to this sacred place to celebrate. At prayer time, the mosque, the square, the streets and the roads all around are full of piously kneeling Muslims. Afterwards, all the people get together on the square in front of the Id Kah Mosque and dance to show their happiness, with no sign of exhaustion.

Mor Buddhist pagoda

Mor or Mo'er Buddhist pagoda sits about 40kms northeast of Kashgar city. The locals regard it as ancient beacon tower. In fact, it is a buddhist pagoda ruins of ancient Shule Kingdom in the western China. The Pagoda was built in 7th century during the Tang dynasty and destroyed 12th century. Nowadays only left one pagoda, next to pagoda is a platform, stands by Qiakemake riverway to see Khannuoyi ancient city several kilometers away. 

The pagoda is the place where the monks in the city to come and do their worship. The Mor pagoda has three square layers, each a little smaller than the one below it. The bottom layer has circumferences of more than forty-eight meters, the second layer forty meters and the third layer thirty-two meters, while the pagoda stands more than twelve meters high. The platform beside the pagoda was one of the central temple structures, and in its side walls were carved niches housing Buddha figurines. But now there aren't any figures left, and even the niches themselves are barely invisible.

Karakol Lake

Karakol Lake, also called Karakul or Karakuli Lake meaning black lake, is located 196 km from Kashgar, Xinjiang province, China. It sits in Akto County, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture on the Karakoram Highway, before reaching Tashkurgan, the Khunjerab Pass on the China - Pakistan border and Sost in Pakistan.  

At an altitude of 3,600 m, it is the highest lake of the Pamir plateau, near the junction of the Pamir, Tian Shan and Kunlun mountain ranges. Surrounded by mountains which remain snow-covered throughout the year, the three highest peaks visible from the lake are the Muztagh Ata (7,546 m), Kongur Tagh (7,649 m) and Kongur Tiube (7,530 m). Especially, the Muztagh Ata has a fame as father of ice mountains.   

The lake is popular among travellers for its beautiful scenery and the clarity of its reflection in the water, whose color ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue. There are two Kirgiz settlements along the shore of Karakul lake, a small number of yurts about 1 km east of the bus drop-off point and a village with stone & wooden houses located on the western shores.

It is said that there are some bonfire night parties by the lake for boy and girl khalkhas with tourists. The party is full of songs and dances, as well as good smell of roast lamb skewer.