Xinjiang Travel Guide
In the far west of Xinjiang, the Silk Road town of Kashgar lies at the foot of the Pamir mountains, with the Taklamakan Desert to the east. As the meeting point of the northern and southern Silk Roads and the gateway to the West, it was once a place of great significance. A Chinese garrison was established here in AD 78, but the area succumbed to the spread of Islam in the 9th century, and Kashgar did not become part of the Chinese empire again until the 18th century. Later, a Central Asian warlord, Yakub Beg, proclaimed himself Khan of the state of Kashgaria but he died in 1877 and China annexed the province. Today, Kashgar is once more a busy market town and transport hub, and despite rampant modernization retains much of its old charm.
- 920 miles (1,473 km) SW of Ürümqi
- Kashgar International Airport
- Kashgar Train Station
- International Bus Station, CAAC (buses to airport)
Kashgar city center
- Aba Khoja Mausoleum (5)
- Id Kah Mosque (2)
- Old Town (3)
- Sunday Market (1)
- Tomb of Yusup Hazi Hajup (4)
- Near Ayziret Lu.
- Livestock Market: Sun
at market, Kashgar
One of China’s most famous weekly markets, the Sunday Market lies in the northeast suburbs, just beyond the river. Despite now being split into two markets – the livestock market is a few miles southeast of town – thousands of traders Flood in from all directions on horseback, in donkey-drawn carts, on foot, and in every form of motorized vehicle. In the crush, stall holders sell blankets, garish fabrics, carpets, and fruit. However, the main attraction is the bustling livestock market. (Carts shuttle between the two.) Here horses are road-tested at a gallop and small herds of sheep are kept in order while waiting to be sold. It is a dusty, noisy, and photogenic place, which comes to life at dawn, and lasts into the evening.
Id Kah Mosque
The largest mosque in Xinjiang, and one of the largest in China, Id Kah Mosque (Aitika Qingzhen Si) was probably founded in 1738, although it possibly stands on the site of a smaller mosque, built in the 15th century. Built in the Central Asian style and altered over the centuries, the mosque’s current structure Dates back only as far as 1838, and was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution. The main gate, flanked by a pair of small minarets, is a confection of marzipan-like yellow brick and tiling. Inside the gate is an octagonal pavilion and a pool, as well as a 100-columned space which can accommodate as many as 7,000 worshipers. Although women are generally not permitted to enter the mosque, all modestly dressed foreign visitors should have no problem, although there are times – such as during services – when non-believers are not allowed. Visitors are advised to remove their shoes when entering carpeted areas.
with mud-brick houses, Kashgar
Northeast of Id Kah Square is the sprawling Uighur bazaar area. Split into different sections, each specializes in particular items such as hats, musical instruments, carpets, and hardware. The main attractions are the locally-produced Kashgar kilims (carpets) and colorful Central Asian hats. Part of the area is a network of mud-brick walls and courtyards, with local teahouses and tiny restaurants selling flat breads, noodles, lamb stews, and kabobs. A 10-ft (3-m) section of the old city walls can be seen at the end of Seman Lu, east of the mosque, and on Yunmulakxia Lu, southwest of the mosque.
Tomb of Yusup Hazi Hajup
This favorite son of Kashgar was an 11th-century Uighur thinker and poet, renowned for his epic poem The Knowledge of Happiness. He was originally buried outside the city, but his tomb was relocated close to Kashgar’s main square, when threatened by a flooding river. Although it has a plain interior, the external structure is impressive. Topped with a blue dome and a cluster of minarets, the tomb is encased in blue-and-white tiles with Arabic motifs.