Located in the eastern part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Turpan, which was called Gaochang in ancient times (from 328AD to 1275AD), is an important place on the Silk Road. Lying in the Turpan Basin, it is at the lowest-elevation anywhere in China. Recently, it has become a tourist hot spot of Xinjiang with its unique landscape, abundant historical relics, and fertile farmland.
Flaming Mountain, which is mentioned in a classical Chinese novel The Journey to the West is the hottest place in China; Emin Minaret is the largest ancient Islamic tower in Xinjiang; and Jiaohe Ancient City and Gaochang Ancient City are witnesses to the long history of Turpan. Aydingkol Lake, at the bottom of Turpan Basin, is the lowest point in the country, and Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs, Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves, Tuyu Valley are also popular attractions. Karez System is one of the four great irrigation system of China and it is a crystallization of ancient people's wisdom and the life source in Turpan.
As a city inhabited by minority groups, you can find Uygur snacks in the streets and lanes. Kebabs, Zhua Fan (Rice Eaten with Hands), Nang, Roast Lamb will make your mouth water. There are also many traditional drinks in Turpan, including milk tea, black tea, grape wine and mare's milk. The traditional handcrafts are exquisite and are worth collecting. Carpets, clothes, caps and knives are favorites, with distinctive folk characteristics.
Around Urumqi- Turpan
About 46km east of Turpan are the ruins pf Gaochang, the capital the Uighurs when they moved into the Xinjiang region from Mongolia in the 9th century. The city was burnt down around the 14th century, during a period of warfare that lasted 40 years.
The town was founded in the first century during the Han Dynasty and became a major staging post on the Silk Road. The walls of the city are clearly visible. They stood as much as 12m thick, formed a rough square with a perimeter of 6km, and were surrounded by a moat. Gaochang was divided into an outer city, an inner city within the walls, and a palace and government compound. A large monastery in the southwestern part of the city is in reasonable condition with some of the rooms, corridors and doorways still preserved. The remains of another one whose outer walls are covered in niches, in each one of which a Buddha was originally seated.
The Emin Minaret
The most impressive of all the sights around Turpan is the eighteenth-century building, just 2km southeast of the city. It's designed in a simple Afghani style and was built in 1777 by the local ruler, Emin Hola. Slightly bulging and pot-bellied, built of sun-dried brown bricks arranged in differing patterns layer, the minaret tapes its way 40 meters skyward to a rounded tip. The adjacent mosque houses a large, shady space and a lattice-work ceiling held up by wooden support. From the top of the mosque there's a stupenduous view over the green oasis in the foreground and the distant snowy Tian Shan Range beyond.
Karez Irrigation System
These underground channels rate as one of ancient China's greatest public works projects. The word "karez¡" means wells. The Karez irrigation system basically taps in on natural underground channels carrying water from source-glaciers at the base of the Tian Shan Range to the point. Strategically dug wells then bring water to small surface relied on this system, including those much farther to the west, in areas such as modern Iran: keeping the water underground for as possible was essential primarily to reduce evaporation, but also to keep it clean of silt and dust. Throughout Turpan there are over a thousand wells and total length of the channels exceeding
Grape Valley : Grape Valley is located just 10 kilometers away from Turpan, on the western side of Flaming Mountain. The valley is 8 kilometers long and 0.6 - 2.0 kilometers wide. On the west side of the valley lies sheer cliffs, but most visitors who pay the valley a visit come to see the abundance of grape vines that give the valley its name.
Aydingkol Lake is at the bottom of the deepest depression in China's land mass, known as Turpan Basin (Tulufan Pendi in Chinese). Situated on the ventral portion of Turpan Basin, the Desert Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in China. Its average altitude is -80 meters (-262 feet).
The Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs are part of the Underground Museum of Turpan and the Living Archives of Gaochang. Astana means capital in Uigur; Karakhoja was a Uygur hero who protected his people from a vicious dragon.
Other sites to see include the Karez System , a delicate irrigation system devised by the smart Xinjiang people 2,000 years ago; the Emin Minaret , the largest ancient Islamic tower in Xinjiang; the Turpan Museum , the second largest museum with the richest and largest collection in Xinjiang; and the Sand Therapy Health Center.
-- Around City --
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