Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region – Turpan, China: Day 2

Day two of our time in Turpan was as incredible as day one, albeit with less stops as we had a train to catch for our return to Urumqi. We visited three sights: the Jiaohe Ruins, the karez irrigation system and the Emin Minaret.

We visited the fantastic ruins of the ancient city of Jiaohe first. Along with the ruins of Gaochang (that we visited the day before), Jiaohe is also one of the Silk Road UNESCO Heritage Sites. Jiaohe is quite different from Gaochang though. It’s a much more compact city and we were able to easily walk its 1650 metre length and 300 metre width. It’s also in significantly better condition than Gaochang and many of its structures are still recognizable. There were many times while we were walking around that I could imagine the past inhabitants going about their life in this city. Its coolest feature is that it is built on top of a leaf shaped plateau providing it with natural 30 metre high walls by way of the steep cliffs. From the city, you could see a deep gorge separating the city from the surrounding hills. An incredibly photogenic city. Here are just a few of the 159 photos I took here:)

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Can you see the houses?

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Monks rooms in the main temple

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Two stories clearly defined

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Residential block

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The neighbourhood’s falling apart

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Main temple with stupa behind on far left

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The main stupa

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View across width of the city to the mountains. Can you see the cliff line?

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A room inside a home with an ancient tool

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This house must have had a great view

 

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At least the first floor walls were strong

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The neighbourhood

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From Jiaohe we stopped to see the 2200 year old karez irrigation system. It is a network of subterranean tunnels that channel water from the base of the Tian Shan Mountains and the nearby Flaming Mountains using the gravity of the slope of the Turpan Depression (Turpan is one of the lowest areas on earth as it sits in a mountain basin). There was not much to see except for a very short walk through one of the tunnels and a much longer walk through the gift store. For some bizarre reason, the karez water system was where we found all of the tourists.

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Vineyards surround the Karez Water System Museum

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Statues showing the strength of the men who built the karez

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The karez system

Our final stop was the 239 year-old Emin Minaret. It is the tallest minaret in all of China, standing at a height of 144 feet. It is attached to the Uyghur Mosque which we were allowed to walk through.

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Emin Minaret, Uyghur Mosque to the right and tombs to the left

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Emin Minaret built in the Iranian style

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Inside the Uyghur Mosque

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Vineyards surrounding the minaret. The buildings are for drying raisins which are a main export for the area.

Although travelling in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region did not always feel the safest, we saw some amazing places that adds to our view of China. From here we will travel to Lanzhou and the Tibetan grasslands. I will leave you with a final image taken in the home of our driver and a video of what it’s like driving around the Taklamakan Desert.

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Our driver’s wife rocking their infant daughter in their home. This space is living room, dining room and bedroom all in one.

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