Cherchen / Qiemo in Xinjiang, China mapCherchen / Qiemo - Ancient Mummies and Modern Comforts

Table of Contents

Uyghur: Cherchen چەرچەن
Chinese: Qiemo 且末

Population of Cherchen / Qiemo County: 60,000 (2002)
Phone code: 0996

Cherchen / Qiemo is a river oasis town along the southeastern rim of the Phoenix carved from Hotan Jade, 1250+ BCE, Fu Hao tomb, Anyang, Henan, ChinaTaklamakan Desert in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. It is the largest town east of Hotan in southern Xinjiang.

This area has a truly ancient human history, based on the 3,500-year-old cemetery along the ancient Jade Road that traded with the earliest Chinese dynasties and the similarly-dated Bronze Age rock carvings south of town along another ancient trade route to what is now Tibet and a 3rd century report of slave kidnapping and sale in Calmadana (Cherchen / Qiemo, China)forgotten back door to central China.

More than a thousand years later, the area was ruled as the kingdom of Calmadana during the earliest heyday of the Silk Road. Its fortunes have since ebbed and flowed, mainly with the popularity of the southern trade route: sometimes abandoned, as when Buddhist monk Xuan Zang passed through in the year 644, and other timesbustling, as when Marco Polo came by in 1273.

Donkey with cart eating, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

Six-lane Aita Street, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaCherchen / Qiemo has a surprisingly large modern center, with wide paved streets, traffic lights, modern hotels, modern restaurants, a hospital, a large central square, a commercial airport, a supermarket, a computer store, Internet cafes, and several large apartment blocks.

Visitors can also explore pleasant rural, Uyghur residential neighborhoods, including a large district just across the street from center of town. There are rural pasturelands, with flocks of sheep, and agricultural fields to wander about a bit farther from the center. The Uyghur bazaar is small but interesting, and the traveler can pick up a game of pool at one of a dozen tables at the bazaar entrance.

Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb mummies, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China Toghraklek Manor Museum, c.1911, wall with 'oyuq' (niches), Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

The main tourist sights in town include:

Molcha River rock carvings - handsThere are several sights farther afield, four in the cool, high mountains that rim the Tibetan Antelope (Chiru)Taklamakan Desert to the south and a fifth deep inside that desert.

Cherchen / Qiemo does not see many foreign visitors, though it has a lot to offer. More than 60,000 Chinese travelers visited in 2005, but only 448 foreign visitors.

1500 kg jade boulder, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThis scarcity of foreign tourists may be due to the minimal tourist information previously available in English. These sparse blurbs mostly describe out-of-date information about poor roads and minimal transportation. Even recently-updated China guidebooks still, unfortunately, reprint the same tired, archaic lamentations.

Many local residents in Xinjiang, sadly even some travel agents, are also not familiar with recent changes in Cherchen / Qiemo or in transportation there either, since it is not today a well-known destination.

The author hopes this guide will assist fellow travelers to have a more current idea of what is available.

Tarim Road © theorientalcaravan.comNorthern Xinjiang was only opened to foreign visitors during the 1980s, but much of southern Xinjiang was still closed, except with special permission, into the 1990s. Prior to 1996, the roads to Cherchen / Qiemo were indeed in poor shape. Fewer buses took much longer to reach it, with frequent delays, the journey was less comfortable, and the accommodations, once one arrived, were limited.

Modern Bus, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaToday, however, there are several daily long-distance buses east and west, including a daily bus to and from Hotan. The roads -- now well-paved asphalt highways -- are in good shape, both west to Niya / Minfeng and Hotan and east to Charklik / Ruoqiang and, from there, north to Korla. One can also fly here. See more about bus and air travel under Getting There and Away.

Cherchen / Qiemo County spent 8 million RMB (about US$1 million) in 2005 alone on tourist infrastructure such as roads and 2.5 million RMB in 2005 on tourism sights, and tourism spending continues apace so access and support will continue to improve.

Not Served Up on a Silver Platter

Sandstorm, Xinjiang, China  cpyrt XinhuanetThough easy to reach, with modern facilities, and with much to see, Cherchen / Qiemo is still not an easy destination for foreigners:

Even with these limitations, however, Cherchen / Qiemo is a rewarding destination, with history and mystery to spare, along with surprisingly modern comforts.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
  Not Served Up on a Silver Platter
  A Note on Names and Spelling
ORIENTATION
  Unusual Street Signage System
  The Main Streets
  Weather
MAPS
INFORMATION - Bank, Internet,
   Travel Services, Cultural Relics
   Bureau, Post office, PSB, Hospital

LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
  Airport
  Bus Station
GETTING AROUND


SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood and Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Sightseeing of Wild Animals in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

 

A Brief Note on Names and Spelling

The town is frequently known both by its local name of Cherchen and its Chinese name of Qiemo.  Both names stretch into antiquity and both are official names, given the laws respecting Uyghur language and tradition of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This author has chosen to use both names throughout the text. 

Click here for more information on Names and Spelling if you want to know more about the various names by which Cherchen / Qiemo has been known from ancient times.  In this text, if there are both a local name and a Chinese name for a site or location, the author will first present both names and then either use both names, if both are in frequent usage in English, or the one that is most frequently used in English.

This section also has Chinese characters for many terms relevant to Cherchen / Qiemo.

Photos at Flicker Site

Large versions, up to 600 pixels high or wide, of the author's photographs at this site can be seen by clicking on the thumbnails. Even larger versions of the author's photographs, up to 2000 pixels high or wide, can be found at the author's Flickr site.

Several of the images and all the quoted text on this page are the copyright of people other than the author. To the extent that copyright, ownership or source is known to the author, it has been noted. If not owned by the author of this page, but ownership is not known, "Source: Unknown" is listed. All other material is copyright © centralasiatraveler.com. The copyright, noted at the end of this page, applies to the author's photographs and text but does not extend to these images and text belonging to others.


ORIENTATION

Cherchen / Qiemo is located in the oasis of the Cherchen River, on the southeastern rim of the Taklamakan Desert, at the feet of the Kunlun Mountains at the point where their eastern offshoot, the Altun / Arjin Mountains, begins.  The town's coordinates are 38°8'4"N, 85°31'49"E, at 1,2Satellite image of Taklamakan Desert southern rim52 meters elevation.  

Cherchen / Qiemo is 315 km east of Niya / Minfeng, 605 km east of Hotan, and 351 km west of Charklik/Ruoqiang along Highway 315, the highway that roughly retraces the southern Silk Road. Since the Taklamakan Desert has been steadily advancing southwest for thousands of years, the actual ancient Silk Road is buried in the sand, likely some tens of kilometers north of town.

There is a spur road off Highway 315 west of Cherchen / Qiemo heading 188 km northwest to the Tazhong Oilfields, meeting the Tarim Highway.  If you take this shortcut to go to Korla instead of going via Niya / Minfeng, you save 357 kilometers. However, the author was told, only private cars and taxis take this route; all public buses go via Niya / Minfeng since they serve the communities along Highway 315.

Cherchen / Qiemo County in Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, ChinaThe town of Cherchen / Qiemo is the county seat of Cherchen / Qiemo County.  Across the Taklamakan Desert, via the spur and the Tarim Highway, it is 708 km south of Korla. Korla (Kuerle 库尔勒 Kù' ěr lè) the capital of Bayangol / Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, of which Cherchen / Qiemo County is a part.  Its Chinese name is  巴音郭楞蒙古自治州 ba yin guo leng meng gu zi zhi zhou .  This mouthful is sometimes abbreviated 巴州 Bazhou, though usually only in Chinese.

This prefecture is the largest in area of any prefecture in all of China. Cherchen / Qiemo County is the second largest county in all of China in size, second only to its neighbor to the east, Charklik / Ruoqiang County. Bayingolin Prefecture borders Gansu Province to the east, other Xinjiang prefectures to the north and west, and Qinghai Province and the Tibet / Xizang Autonomous Region to the south.

Unusual Street Signage System

Street name sign, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThere are large blue and white signs above all four sides of most main intersections - in Uyghur, Chinese, and English. They are organized in an unusual way.

The street sign to the right, for example, is on eastbound Sichou at Aita.

The Main Streets

Street map, center, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe center of town has six main streets.  The main intersection is at Aita and Sichou, as can be seen in this street map of the center. A higher-resolution of this map is available in PDF format.

The main north-south street is Aita 埃榙, with Xingfu 幸福 parallel to the west and Tuanjie 团结路 to the east.  Tuanjie changes name to Ying Bin 迎宾 for the block north of Qianjin going to the airport.

These are crossed by three east-west streets, from north to south:  Qianjin 前进, Sichou 丝绸, and Wenhua 文化.

On the street signs, most of the street names include designations of north, south, east, and west, and all of the street names end with the Chinese character 路 Lu for street.  The cardinal directions are: 西 Xi (west, xī), 东 Dong (east, dōng), 南 Nan (south, nán), and  北Bei (north, běi).  So, for example, Aita, north of Sichou, is called Aita Bei Lu (Aita North Street).

From the east, from Charklik / Ruoqiang, Highway 315 turns and enters town heading south as Aita Lu as far as the bus station. From the bus station, Highway 315 follows a street heading northwest out of town, then turns west toward Niya / Minfeng.

Weather

Playing dead in the heat of the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, China - © L Joo, virtualtourist.com
Playing dead on
Taklamakan Desert
© L Joo

The two main weather isDeset beside highway, Cherchen / Qiemo to Charklik / Ruoqiang, Xinjiang, Chinasues for visitors in Cherchen / Qiemo are heat and sandstorms.  The heat is worst in summer and the sandstorms are most frequent in spring, so the best time to visit is in fall.  But the good hotels have rooms with air conditioning, and most sandstorms are not crippling to commerce, transit or tourism.  Still, it is a good idea to plan an extra day into your schedule along this area, in case of weather delays.

Being located on the edge of a major desert, Cherchen / Qiemo is quite hot during the summer, though it is a very dry heat.  Even in summer, however, it is cooler in the mountains nearby to the south.

July:  average temperature 24ºC, average high 32º, an average of 21 days over 32ºC, and 39% average relative humidity.

Winters are cold, fiercely cold at night. But since there is essentially no rain or snow, and infrequent sandstorms, and all tourist and transport resources operate year-round, as long as you dress warmly, visiting the towns around the Taklamakan Desert in the winter is fine.

Explorer Sven Hedin in winter expedition wearIn fact, archaeological expeditions in Xinjiang, such as those of Sven Hedin (left) have always been carried out in late autumn or winter, because of no summer heat, fewer sandstorms, and because the camels can bring in water in the form of ice. (Winter's not the time, though, to visit the sights nearby in the Kunlun Mountains, nor the mountains of far northern Xinjiang, nor Tashkurgan along the Karakorum Highway.)

Snow on dunes near Cherchen / Qiemo, Feb 2006, © cnsphoto.comAbove notes 'essentially no snow' because there are infrequent, minor snow falls. "Qiemo, a county located at the southeast part of Taklimakan desert, witnessed the first snow of the season on February 21. The snow cleared the sandstorm [that had] lasted in the county since February 15 and refreshed the air. According to Chief of the local Meteorological Bureau Shi Guoqiang, this is the heaviest snow in Qiemo in the last 10 years." Image & text source: Ren Yuyong, 2006-02-22

December: average temperature -5ºC, average low -11ºC, an average of 31 days under 0ºC, and 56% average relative humidity.

The average precipitation in Cherchen / Qiemo is near zero in every month of the year.  There's usually a brief, light rain a few times each year.  In 2005, in April, a freak storm brought a dusting of snow with a windstorm. In the nearby Kunlun Mountains to the south, however, there is significant rainfall. 

Check here for more historic weather averages: Weather Base Qwik Cast for Cherchen / Qiemo. (Click on "ºC" in the upper right for Celsius.)

Check here for current weather forecasts: the Weather Underground for Cherchen / Qiemo

Sandstorm, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaMost towns around the Taklamakan Desert are plagued by sandstorms and windstorms.  But Cherchen / Qiemo is better known for them, possibly because the prevailing winds in the Taklamakan Desert are from the northeast.  An early edition (1988) of Bonavia's "Silk Road" says Cherchen / Qiemo has 'dust weather' for about 40% of the days in a year. "Quemo comprises one street only – and no wonder, since for 145 days a year it is blasted by sands blown by Force 5 winds [19-24 mph or 31-39 kph]." No other sources the author has found have any further details on sandstorm frequency.

Most sandstorms are minor, and mainly affect the traveler by having hazy yellow skies instead of blue for much of the spring and summer and getting grit in inconvenient places.  Some sandstorms or windstorms are somewhat more powerful and inconvenience the traveler by making it uncomfortable to walk around or obscuring the view, and being a hazard to camera lenses.  But folks here are used to these, so tourist sights and indoor restaurants remain open.

A few sandstorms a year will shut down transportation for up to a few days, keeping most folks indoors and cancelling buses, so it is a good idea to include an extra day or two in one's travel plans in the area.  Since Xinjiang is so large, most of these sandstorms cover only a small part of the region, so a fierce sandstorm in Urumqi might hold your bus in Cherchen / Qiemo even if your skies are blue and you can sightsee in town.

Sandstorms are also known by their Uyghur name of buran (boo-ran') or their Chinese name of Shachenbao (沙尘暴).  A particularly fierce sandstorm, in Uyghur, will be called a kara-buran.  Literally, this is black sandstorm but kara also has the meaning of death or deadly.

The Taklamakan Desert is not alone in China in being known its sandstorms.  Though mainly a gebi (gravel-rock) desert, the much larger Gobi Desert is also known for its sandstorms.  Together, these deserts, along with climate change and China's rapid deforestation, have led to an increase in the frequency and ferocity of sandstorms, which even reach Beijing.  More about sandstorms throughout China at the Chinese-language http://www.duststorm.com.cn. Here you can see Google's translation into English of duststorm.com.cn. It includes an annual yearbook of "dust weather," though its 'Hot News' column seems sadly out of date.

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

 

MAPS

Satellite image, center, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China
Street map of central Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

Click image for low-res JPG.
Click here for high-res PDF.

To the left is a street map of central Cherchen / Qiemo developed by the author. A larger-resolution version of this map is also available in PDF format.  The street map shows the main streets as well as several hotels, restaurants, the bazaar, the hospital, an Internet cafe, the hospital, a supermarket and other sights in town.

To the right is a satellite image of the center of Cherchen / Qiemo which matches this street map.

All of the satellite images here are drawn from Wikimapia which are based on Google Earth images.

 

 

Satellite image, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China Satellite image, oaisis of Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China
 

To the left is a satellite image of the city of Cherchen / Qiemo. The site of the Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb is indicated in the middle left, just west of the oasis.

To the right is a satellite image of the Cherchen / Qiemo river oasis. The town is located at the lower left, just west of the blue of the river entering the oasis.

 

Satellite image of Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, China  © Google Earth Southeastern rim of the Taklamakan Desert, showing cities and large towns, Xinjiang, China
 

To the left is a satellite image of the county (or district) of Cherchen / Qiemo, with the county border shown in purple.  

To the right is a satellite image of the southeastern rim of the Taklamakan Desert, showing the main towns.

 

Satellite image, Bayingolin MARegion, incl Cherchen / Qiemo county
 

Map of Road Impovement Plan into Kunlun Mountain communities, 2007To the left is an outline map of the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, showing its county-level city of Korla and its eight counties with their county seats.  At the top of this web page is a small relief map image relief of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, with the location of Cherchen / Qiemo indicated.

To the right is a map of central Cherchen / Qiemo County from a road-construction project proposal, to be funded by the Asian Development Bank.  It shows two improved roads that are planned into the remote hill villages.

 

Map of Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, China

Map of central Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, China
 

These next two maps are older maps, so some newer roads may not be shown, especially in the Kunlun Mountains.  To the left is a map, mainly in Chinese with some English, showing central Cherchen / Qiemo County. To the right is the full county map, again in Chinese with some English place names.

 

 

Map of Cherchen / Qiemo Town, from Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel BureauMap of Cherchen / Qiemo County, from Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel BureauThe Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau publishes a map, in Chinese and in English, of the center of town on one side and the county on the other. This map is available for Y2 at the Muztag Hotel.  The map has photos and brief descriptions of sights in town and the area.

To the left is a scan of this Travel Bureau printed map of the center of town. Sichou Lu was translated on this printed map as Silk Road and Xingfu Lu was translated Happiness Street. These are, of course, correct translations but not as useful as Pinyin names for using with taxi drivers, for example, so on the front of the map, the author made these small additions.   

To the right is a scan of the obverse side, showing the county. This map indicates the location of several tourist sights in the region, including the Molcha River petroglyphs near Serikule Village.

 

Xinjiang road map of Xinjiang, China, with distances, in Chinese with some EnglshXinjiang road map of Xinjiang, China, with distances, in Chinese with some EnglshTo the left is a map of Xinjiang, a road map with distances shown in kilometers, mainly in Chinese with some place names in English.

To the right is another map of Xinjiang, also a road map with distances in kilometers, also in Chinese, with some place names in English added by the author. (Both of these maps were found at Vbgood Maps.)

The second one has more place names listed, but this makes it also more difficult to read. Both of these are older maps, so they may not show newer roads, such as the new cross-desert highway between Hotan and Aksu (which opened in October 2007 and which follows the Hotan River), or the extension of the railway to Kashgar, which was completed in 1999.The author has added the spur road from Tazhong to Highway 315 near Cherchen / Qiemo to these maps.

The links from the images give low-resolution versions of these maps at this site. To avoid too much bandwidth usage here, the larger format version of these maps is available at the author's Flickr site: left Xinjiang map (1535 x 1273) and right Xinjiang map (2078 x 1370).

 

A large format (2196 x 1547) map of Xinjiang in English is available at Xinjiang Map at Maps of China. The author offers the reader three caveats about that English map. First, to download the map, which is actually in six file segments, one must right-click on each of the segments and then use a graphics program to paste them together. Second, this map erroneously shows the Tarim Highway reaching Highway 315 at Andirlingar, rather than near Niya / Minfeng, an error of 110 km to the east. Third, this map does not show distances.

To assist the reader with using the above Chinese maps, if you are traveling outside the main tourist cities, the author has adapted a List of Nearly 1000 Place Names in Xinjiang, with names in English, Chinese characters and Pinyin. The original source for these lists is Wikipedia regarding Administrative Divisions in Xinjiang. The author has adapted this list and offers it in sorted versions.

These lists include all the main administrative divisions in Xinjiang -- prefectures, counties and cities -- as well as several larger towns and townships within each county. The same data is provided sorted in three ways. NOTE: THESE ARE LARGE TABLES AND MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.

INFORMATION

This section offers brief information useful to travelers about resources such as banks, Internet access, post, police, medical and travel services.

Bank

Agricultural Bank of China, Cherchen /Qiemo, Xinjiang, China -- no ATM, no international currency exchange, no cash advances on foreign credit cardsNo good news for foreigners. 
The Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) is the only bank in town, located on the north side of Sichou between Aita and Xingfu, east of Pakdiyar Restaurant.  It had no ATM in fall 2006, but even if it gets an ATM, most ABC ATMs in China don't accept foreign cards.  The bank does not change any foreign currency, nor do any hotels I spoke with, and it does not process cash advances on foreign credit cards.  Nor does any place in Charklik / Ruoqiang, Niya / Minfeng, or Keriya / Yutian, so stock up on yuan before you head here from Golmud / Ge'ermu, Dunhuang, Korla, or Hotan.

Internet Access

Yang Guang Wang Ba (Internet cafe), Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaYang Guang Wang Ba  阳光网吧
There is a wang ba (Internet cafe) on a side street off Ying Bin, five doors in on the left.  The side street is across the street from and slightly south of the Muztag Hotel.  Computer usage costs Y2 per hour and the cafe has about 20 PCs.  The town is large enough that there are likely other wang ba.

Travel Services

Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau.  0996-7628574. 
This may be more of a travel development organization than a travel agency, but they can probably point you in the right direction.  They don’t speak English, however.  Ask for the English-speaking staff person at the Muztag Hotel to assist you.  The bureau publishes a printed map in Chinese and English of the town and the county, available for Y2 at the Muztag Hotel and likely elsewhere. You can see this map here on a smaller scale at Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau Map.  Their map lists several sights and available tours in the area, but it doesn't say who operates the tours.

Cherchen / Qiemo Cultural Relics Bureau

0996-7929001  No English spoken. 
The director of the local Cultural Relics Office, Turdi Kerim, is also the Chief Curator of the Toghraklek Manor Museum.  The address of the Cultural Relics Bureau is unknown to the author, but you can likely find Mr. Kerim or his whereabouts at the Toghraklek Manor Museum.  You may be able to pay here for the permit to visit the Lalulik Ruins, posted here as Y50, since other visitors have indicated the price at the site may vary.

China Post, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaPost Office

China Post is at the corner of Aita and Sichou.  As in most Chinese cities, the China Post also has some lodging.  The author did not check whether the Cherchen / Qiemo China Post can accept foreign parcels, but believes it is unlikely.

Public Security Bureau (PSB - Police) station, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaPSB

Public Security Bureau (Local Police) The PSB station is on Wenhua between Aita and Tuanjie.  It doesn't have an Aliens Entry and Exit Administration office, so you can't get your visa extended here.  Your nearest options are Korla and Hotan. The PSB Station is shown here, the narrow building with the blue sign and windows.

Medical

The Cherchen / Qiemo Hospital is on Aita at Sichou, and is the only hospital between Hotan and Korla.  The author does not know if anyone speaks English at the hospital.

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

 

LODGING

These posted hotel prices are from late 2006.

Shower head with dropletA note on water:  Water and energy are precious in this area.  Water may not be available 24 hours a day, even in the best hotels, at certain times of year, and hot running water will probably be limited to a few hours a day.  Ask at check-in about water availability.  However, as in the rest of China, a thermos of boiling hot water, if not brought to your room when you arrive, should be available, with unlimited refills, simply by asking the staff.

A note on air conditioning:  Not all rooms have air conditioning, but most hotels in town have some rooms with air conditioning, which are usually a bit more expensive.  Be sure to ask before you check in.

A note on negotiation:  As with most hotels in China, room rates are usually negotiable.  This is especially true in the off-season of late fall and early spring when they could be talked down by half, and less true during the heavy travel times of the first week in May and the first week in October. 

Budget
Ying Bin Guesthouse, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

Ying Bin Binguan

 Jiao Tong Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China迎宾   0996-7620898.  At corner of Aita and Sichou kitty corner from China Post.  It is called a "business hotel" on the map from the QiemoCounty Travel Bureau.  Posted prices: "Standard double 80, Triple with bath 90, Single with bath 100."  (No dorm rooms listed.)

Jiao Tong

There is a Jiao Tong (交通 transportation / traffic hotel) in the same shiny new steel building as the bus station.  Other travelers have reported that a single is about Y50-80, with dorms for Y20 per person.China Post, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

 

China Post

The map from the County Travel Bureau notes there is a ‘hotel’ at the China Post, as is true in most Chinese towns. A fellow traveler reported staying here in a four-bed dorm room for Y40 per night, with clean shared toilets and showers in the hall.

 

Second Building, Muztag Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaMid-range

Main Building, Muztag Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaMuztag Hotel

mu zi ta ge bin guan   木孜塔格
On Ying Bin Lu (the northern extension of Tuanjie Lu) - no street number, a block north of Qianjin, just before the entrance to the airport.

Lobby, Muztagh Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe Muztag Hotel has been the nicest place in town for some years. It has been upgraded with the addition of a new building.For the budget traveler, there are less expensive rooms in the old wing. 

Standard Room, Old Building, Muztagh Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThere’s a flashy new place down the street that just opened in fall 2006 - see below. However, the Muztag Hotel has the additional benefits of a large grounds and an on-site restaurant.  This is the government hotel, and one staff memberspeaks English well. 

For Y120, one gets a nice, clean, large room in the older building across a nice garden from the main building, with two double beds, TV without remote, phone, and bathroom with shower (hot water 8pm-11pm). 

Bathroom in Standard Room, Old Building, Muztagh Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaFor Y200, one gets a nice, clean, small room in the newer main building, with two twin beds, large TV with remote, phone,bathroom with shower, and air conditioning - the latter of which certainly more important in summer than in mid-November when the author visited. 

Posted prices:  "Deluxe suite Y300, single room Y200, standard two room Y170." 

The hotel’s restaurant is located in a third building also facing the garden.  The extensive menu, in Chinese only, is mostly Chinese food, but with no pork products out of respect for the Uyghur staff. See below under EATING.

A note on spelling: The romanization of the Uyghur name is Muztagh, meaning Ice Mountain, referring to the nearly 7,000 m Ulugh Muztagh peak in the mountains south of town.  The author uses the roman spelling used in the EnglishLobby, Kun Yu Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, Chinasignage at the hotel -- Muztag -- a middle step between the Uyghur Muztagh and the Pinyin Muzitage.

Kun Yu Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

 

Kun Yu Binguan

昆玉  0996-7627666, corner of Sichou and Tuanjie.

BBathroom in Standard Room, Kun Yu Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, Chinarand new in late 2006 and fancy, with a two-story lobby graced by a wide circular staircase. 

Standard room, Kun Yu Hotel, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaSuites, along the semi-circular front, have enormous pie-slice-shaped bathrooms and huge flat-screentelevisions, although they (and the rest of Cherchen / Qiemo) only receive about 12 channels, not including the English-language CCTV9. 

Posted prices:  'Deluxe suite Y388, standard room Y198, single Y188, common room Y120.' 

No restaurant.  No English spoken. 

All rooms seem to have air conditioning, but inquire at check-in.

 

 

EATING

Pakdiyar Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaPakdiyar Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaPakdiyar Uyghur Restaurant

Uyghur: Pakdiyar   Chinese: Pa ti ya   帕提垭
0996-7629580
Cuisine or main dishes:  Uyghur
Price range (average):  Many at Y10-20 and many at Y35-50, so good for a meal or a feast.

This very nice Uyghur restaurant is on the north side of Sichou between Aita and Xingfu.  Pakdiyar is only open for lunch and dinner, closing 15:30-19:30. Extensive menu of Uyghur dishes (and probably someChinese dishes) written in Chinese.  There may also be a menu written in Uyghur. 

Menu page, Pakdiyar Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe restaurant has a large, open central area suited for performances and dancing.  If Uyghur cultural shows are on offer in Cherchen / Qiemo, this is a likely venue, as well as weddings and other events.

 

Uyghur Restaurants

Roast lamb, Muztag Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThere are also many smaller Uyghur restaurants in town, especially near the bazaar. The author noticed one just south of the main entrance to the Bazaar on Aita.

 

Muztag Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaMuztag Restaurant

At the Muztag Hotel. Cuisine or main dish type: Chinese, with some Uyghur and Mongolian dishes.  No pork is served, out of respect for Muslim practice.  Chinese-only menu.
Average price range: Y20-35

 

Menu, Lao Hui Min Da Pan Ji Ban Mian Guan - Hui Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaLao Hui Min Da Pan Ji Ban Mian Guan - Hui Restaurant, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaLao Hui Min Da Pan Ji Ban Mian Guan - Hui restaurant   

老回民大盘鸡拌面馆
This basic but friendly Hui noodle house is next to the PSB on Wenhua.  Chinese-only menu, posted outside.  Use your Mandarin phrasebook restaurant section to ask, "What do you recommend?"  It's all good. Cuisine or main dish types:  Hui (Chinese Muslim) style. Mainly dishes made with hand-pulled noodles.  Price range:  Y4-7. This restaurant is shown on the right, with the red sign.

 

Self-Catering

Bai Shin Zha Supermarket, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaBai Shin Zha Supermarket, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaYou can easily self-cater from the Uyghur bazaar. There are also many small groceries, but the following is the largest supermarket in town.

Bai Shin Zha Supermarket (chao shi) 百姓家超市
On the corner of Tuanjie and Wenhua, next to the Kunlun Square, Bai Shin Zha is a medium-size supermarket, on the ground floor of a high-rise building with a geodesic dome on top, across from Kunlun Square. Scanning registers.

 

SHOPPING

Jade

Jade shops, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaJade in shop, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThere are many jade stores in town, mainly concentrated on Qianjin between Aita and Tuanjie. Offerings range from the smallest pebble to enormous intricate carvings.

You will also find independent sellers with stalls or tables near Qianjin Market.

Jade prices have been rising dramatically in recent years, so be prepared for sticker shock. High-quality creamy white 'mutton-fat' jade is selling for much more than gold. Also, some unscrupulous entrepreneurs have been known to inflate prices even more for tourists, and even misrepresent jade quality, or even doctor up lesser-quality stones. So, at today's prices, be cautious with any large purchase unless you are quite familiar with jade.

The southeast region of the Tarim Basin has been trading jade to central China for many thousands of years, based on chemical analysis of ancient royal central plains China funeral offerings. Chinese myths abound regarding the distant Kunlun Mountains from which jade came. After the founding of the Kingdom of Khotan, this jade from the Jade dragon ring made of Hotan Jade, 1200 BCE, Shang Dynasty, ChinaKunlun Mountains was also recorded as coming from Hotan, and is thus called Hotan jade. But 'Hotan jade' came from all along the Kunlun Mountains, including the Cherchen River and the Yarkand River west of Hotan.

1500 kg jade boulder, Muztag Hotel Lobby, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe lobby of the Muztag Hotel boasts one of the largest pieces of jade ever found, about 1,500 kilos.  Four much larger jade boulders have been found in the last five years in the region since that one was put on display.  These include a 10-ton piece of white jade and the 60-ton 'gray jade king,' the latter of which is still on the mountain.

In ancient times, most jade was recovered from the rivers, but in the last several hundred years, it has also been mined in the mountains. See Jade Tour below for a two-day excursion into the Kunlun Mountains to a working jade mine and more information about local jade. Today, the mines in Cherchen / Qiemo County produce two-thirds of the entire jade production of Xinjiang.

Ten-ton white jade king at Jade Festival, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaIn late August or early September of each year, the town holds the Qiemo Hetian Jade Cultural Festival.

 

Uyghur Bazaar

See section below under SIGHTS on the Uyghur Bazaar.

Qianjin Market

See section below under SIGHTS on the Qianjin Market.

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak


GETTING AROUND

Cherchen / Qiemo is a small town and you can walk everywhere in the center.  Alternatively, you can get around on the flat carts of a motorcycle taxi or in the covered seat of a tricycle taxi for Y2-3 to most places in the center.  There are also regular car taxis, for Y5 in and near the center. 

You can take a regular taxi to the Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb and the Toghraklek Manor Museum, but you'll want to arrange in advance for a fare that includes the driver waiting for you.

You would need a 4WD vehicle to get to the Lalulik ruins.  The Muztag Hotel staff can arrange for a car and driver for you.

 

GETTING THERE & AWAY

Airport

Tel: 0996 - 7622541

China Southern Airlines flies an ATR-72 twin turboprop, with 72 seats, twice weekly between Cherchen / Qiemo, Korla, and Urumqi, Xinjiang, ChinaThe Qiemo airport (IQM) is at the north end of Ying Bin Lu, a block north of Qianjin, just over a kilometer from the center.

There are at least two flights a week to Korla which continue on to Urumqi. The flights are on Mondays and Thursdays.

The China Southern Airlines plane, a 72-seat French twin-turboprop ATR-72, does a daily round trip.

Cherchen / Qiemo Airport, satellite image (Source: Google)10:00 Lv Urumqi
10:55 Ar Korla
11:35 Lv Korla
12:40 Ar Cherchen / Qiemo

13:20 Lv Cherchen / Qiemo
14:25 Ar Korla
15:05 Lv Korla
16:00 Ar Urumqi

The ticket cost is Y430 (60% discount) for advance purchase and Y600 closer to the departure date. The list price, in early 2008, was Y1080 plus Y70 tax and fees.  (From Cherchen / Qiemo to Korla, the list price, in early 2008, is Y560 plus Y70 tax and fees, and this price is also subject to discounts of 60% to Y220.) 

In Cherchen / Qiemo, the folks at the Muztag Hotel can probably help you contact someone from whom to buy your tickets, and the airport is right next door to the hotel. 

You could also buy the tickets in advance and have the tickets delivered to you in many of China's larger cities, including Urumqi.  One good on-line source is www.elong.net and another is www.ctrip.com.  (Look in the upper right to choose English.)

These flights may be cancelled due to bad weather (which may actually mean bad weather, with frequent wind and sandstorms in Cherchen / Qiemo and Korla, or could mean a lack of passengers).

Buses

Tarim roadway, near Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaMost sources in English persist in repeating outdated information about getting to Cherchen / Qiemo. Even most folks in Xinjiang are not familiar with the recent updates in transportation options. This is perhaps not too surprising since as recently as the 1960s it took thirty days across the desert to travel from Korla to Cherchen / Qiemo.

A road track was installed around the rim of the Taklamakan. Starting in the 1980s, pavement was gradually added from Kashgar, reaching Cherchen / Qiemo in 1996, shortly after the 1995 inauguration of the Tarim Highway from Niya / Minfeng in the south to Bugur / Luntai in the north.

The basic pavement has been significantly upgraded since then. Today, the 1,475 km section of Highway 315 which runs across the southern rim of the Taklamakan, is a good highway, completely paved from Kashgar to Charklik / Ruoqiang, with two full lanes. TStainless steel bus station, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, Chinahere are desert-taming techniques such as reed plantings, as needed, alongside the desert roadway. Highway 218, from Charklik / Ruoqiang north to Korla (then onward northwest to Kazakhstan) is similarly smooth and paved. Any car or bus can drive the route and make good time. Road accidents or significant sandstorms, of course, can cause delays.

The shiny stainless-steel bus station is just south of the town center, on Aita, a long block south of Wenhua. When buses arrive, you can take a motorcycle taxi with a flat cargo pad, a bicycle taxi, or a car taxi the few long blocks north to the center.

dual time-zone clockAll times are given in Beijing time, which is required for all official functions in China. But most unofficial life here operates on local time, also called Xinjiang time. Be sure, when arranging any scheduled event, which time your counterpart is using.

Long-distance bus schedule (2006), Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaTo the left is an image of the Cherchen / Qiemo bus schedule for major destinations, to which the author has added English row and title headings. This schedule is from November 2006. However, since the area is growing quickly, the frequency of buses is not likely to decrease. But it would be advisable to get your departure ticket when you arrive, both to verify the schedule and because the infrequent buses tend to run full.

Long-distance bus fares (2006), Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaTo the right is an image of the Qiemo bus fare table, to which the author has added English row and title headings.

There is a daily luxury mid-sized seat bus westbound to Hotan at 10:00 am, which stops in Niya/ Minfeng at 13:00 (53Y, 314 km), Keriya / Yutian at 18:00 (70Y, 429 km), and Hotan Seat bus, Bus station, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, Chinaat 21:00 (97Y, 605 km). Going the other direction, there is also a daily luxury mid-sized seat bus that leaves not from the main Hotan Bus Station but from the East Bus Station (dong che zhan), which is a local bus ride from the main Bus Station -- take the #10 bus to the end of the line. The author does not (yet) have the official departure time, but it surely leaves in the morning, probably about 09:00 or 10:00 Beijing time, and it should arrive in Cherchen / Qiemo about 11 hours later.

Common sleeper bus, inside, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThere is also a common sleeper bus westbound to Keriya / Yutian, 429 km, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 20:00 (19:00 in winter) for Y49 upper / Y53.5 lower. If you'd prefer to travel at night to Hotan, you can take the Keriya / Yutian bus and easily catch one of the many buses passing through Keriya / Yutian to Hotan (176 km) in the morning.

For Niya / Minfeng, 314 km, you can take either the Hotan bus or the Keriya / Yutian bus, described above.  (There may also be other buses. For example, the author took a common sleeper that left about 14:00 on a Saturday in November 2006. Ask the bus station staff if there are other buses. Then please let us know.)   Depending on the type of bus, the fare to Niya / Minfeng is Y36-51 and the trip should take 5-6 hours.

Previously, before the spur to Tazhong was built, one could also take one of the several daily buses headed to Korla and get off in Niya / Minfeng. However, these buses now take the spur road directly from Cherchen / Qiemo to Tazhong, bypassing Niya / Minfeng.

One bus goes daily eastbound to Charklik / Ruoqiang at 10:00 am (Y58, 5 hours, 351 km).  In the reverse direction, one bus goes daily from Charklik / Ruoqiang to Cherchen / Qiemo at 10:00.From Charklik / Ruoqiang, one can take one of four daily buses to Korla, 490 km north, and from there you can catch buses or trains throughout China. 

Alternatively, from Charklik / Ruoqiang, you could head southeast. See the Charklik / Ruoqiang page for information on traveling to destinations southeast from Charklik / Ruoqiang, including Dunhuang (with the famous Mogao Caves), Xining, and Golmud, where you can catch a train for Lhasa.

There are four buses each day going from Cherchen / Qiemo to Korla. The fare schedule poster in the bus station indicates the distance is 708 km, which means that the Korla buses go via the spur road to Tazhong, meeting up with the Tarim Highway there. 

The buses which depart at 09:00 (10:00 in winter) and 13:00 (14:00 in winter) are luxury, air-conditioned seat buses for Y81.  Those departing at 18:00 and 20:00 (19:00 in winter) are basic sleeper buses for Y76 upper / Y83 lower.  The author didn’t get the travel time; however, the distance from Cherchen / Qiemo to Korla via the spur road is 708 km, so the travel time is likely in the neighborhood of 10-14 hours.

The later sleeper bus to Korla continues on to Urumqi, 1200 km, for Y145 upper / Y155 lower. The route map in the bus station, however, seems to indicate that perhaps the Urumqi-bound bus may travel on the eastward route via Charklik / Ruoqiang; this route would be only 130 km further overall to Urumqi. Check with the station staff if this routing would present a problem for you -- for example, if you are headed for Tazhong -- and please let the author know what you find out.

If you just want to make a short circuit into the center of the desert, Tazhong is Chinese for Ta(klamakan) Center. You can take a Korla bus from Cherchen / Qiemo as far as Tazhong, 188 km northwest, probably about 2 hours drive. In Tazhong, you can wander in and spend the night in the dunes, or in a basic accomodation in this rough and ready miner's town. You might be able to arrange for a tour of the oil fields -- estimated to have a greater oil reserve than the United States. From Tazhong, you can flag down one of the more than dozen daily luxury air-conditioned buses that cross the desert back south to Niya / Minfeng, Keriya / Yutian, or Hotan.

The price schedule in the bus station also gives prices for Shudang, 150 km east, and Waaxari / Waxishia, 180 km east, which are large entirely-Uyghur villages on the way to Charklik / Ruoqiang.

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

 

SIGHTS

Bazaar, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe tourist highlights of Cherchen / Qiemo are the Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb and the Toghraklek Manor Museum. These are listed below after the sights nearer to the center. 

Bazaar entry, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaUYGHUR BAZAAR

The traditional Uyghur bazaar extends through the block from Aita to Tuanjie, just north of Wenhua.  The main covered corridor has mostly clothing and household goods, while the meat and produce is mainly found in several corridors branching south from the main corridor. Several cooked food stands and bread stalls are found near the entrances.

Visitors can pick up a game of pool, at the west entry, where Uyghur men play at about a dozen pool tables under a canopy.   

Pool tables, Bazaar entry, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaQIANJIN MARKET

The most dramatic architectural sight in central Cherchen / Qiemo is the newly-built Qianjin Market.  Its entryway at Aita and Qianjin has large brick walls with decorative turrets, resembling a mosque gateway, and it seems quite recently built.  It consists of two block-long buildings, each with two levels of small shops facing the pedestrian walkway. The architecture is pleasant, with decorative brickwork and wrought iron filigree, but it seems in the style of a mosque rather than a market.

Qianjin Market, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe shops have mostly modern clothing and home decor items, and mostly Han Chinese staff, with products mostly not of interest to Western tourists.  In temporary stands along the walkway, Uyghur women sell produce.

This is not the Uyghur bazaar which, as noted above, runs from Aita to Tuanjie, just north of Wenhua, though on the Qiemo County Travel Bureau map it is called, in Chinese characters, the Qiemo Da (big) Ba Za (bazaar) and, in English, "Qiemo Uygur Market."  On street signs, it is called qianjin shi chang - Qianjin Market.

It is not clear why the County Travel Bureau map calls it a Uyghur Market.  Qianjin market, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe author speculates that the city intended many of the bazaar tenants to move here, but didn't realize that the rent would be exorbitant for them. Or maybe it was intended as an upscale shopping area but the map calls it a Uyghur Market simply because it was designed in Uyghur architectural style, although using a style usually reserved for a mosque to embellish a shopping mall may be unusual.

It seems popular with Chinese tourists, but western travelers will most likely want to walk through to reach the Uyghur neighborhood (below).

Donkey eating, Uyghur neighborhood, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaUYGHUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND RURAL ENVIRONS

You can find a pleasant Uyghur neighborhood in Cherchen / Qiemo by walking through the pedestrian Qianjin Market, turning right on Xingfu, and then left down one of the dirt lanes.  You’ll wander along tree-lined roads, grape trellises, mud brick homes, cornfields, and many beautifully painted Uyghur courtyard doors.  Colorful courtyard door,  Uyghur neighborhood, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaDonkey carts wander by delivering vegetables or animal feed. 

Less than 500 foreign travelers come to Cherchen / Qiemo, so the local residents are far from jaded by tourists. You may get invited into a home, so bring some postcards from home - or even of Beijing - as hostess gifts for the warm hospitality you will be shown.

Sheep in field, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaNorthward in the neighborhood, across from the north end of the large apartment complex, is a mosque, as you can see on the street map.  This may be the main mosque of Cherchen / Qiemo. (If you get a photo of it, the author would appreciate the opportunity to include it on this page.)

In addition, you could perhaps wander a bit farther into the agricultural or pastoral areas of the oasis. Perhaps you could include in your destinations to your taxi driver, along with Zaghunluq and Toghraklek, a stop at a pasture area of the oasis -- a welcome change from the vast desert, especially if your schedule doesn't give you time to head into the mountains south of town. The Chinese for 'sheep pastureland' is 绵羊牧区地 mián yáng mù qū dì.

 

Kunlun Square, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaKunlun Square, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaKUNLUN SQUARE

Taking up four large city blocks, the large Chinese Kunlun Square is at the corner of Tuanjie and Wenhua. It was built only a few years ago.  It has large lawns, many trees and interesting large metal sculptures including a  five-meter pyramidal frame. Except for the aerial view to the left, the pictures were taken in November, when it's probably less green than usual.

The Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau map says that five of the items in the square are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.  From rough translations from Chinese-language web sites, it seems that these five world records may instead be at various places around Cherchen / Qiemo County, with only one of them in Kunlun Square. 

Fountain, Kunlun Square, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaOne, for example, is at Zaghunluq with the "world's largest family joint burial tomb of mummies." There may be larger group Pyramid, Kunlun Square, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, Chinatombs whose representatives simply haven't petitioned for the honor, but it's certainly the only one open to the public.  

 

An English-speaking manager at the Muztag Hotel knows what some of these other record-holders are.

 

MONUMENT TO REVOLUTIONARY HEROES

Monument to Revolutionary Heroes, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaOn Xingfu between Qianjin and Sichou is the monument to revolutionary heroes. It consists of a small plaza and a white columnar monument.

 

Jade Festival, Aug or Sept, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaCULTURAL ENTERTAINMENT

The author has no information on Uyghur music or dancing opportunities in Cherchen / Qiemo. The best possibility, however, the author posits, would be to inquire at Pakdiyar Restaurant, Muztag Hotel or the Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau.

In late August, for the past four years, Cherchen / Qiemo has held a Jade Cultural Festival, and the town is likely to continue to do so.  Cherchen / Qiemo County produces 70% of Xinjiang's jade production, and with the price of jade rising rapidly and jade running out in the rivers near Hotan, jade is likely to continue to be hot around here.

 

TOGHRAKLEK MANOR MUSEUM

Toghraklek Manor Museum entry, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

Toghraklek Manor, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaTuoholake 托乎拉克 Zhuangyuan (Manor) 庄园 Bowuguan 博物馆 (museum)
09:30-13:30, 16:30-19:30.  20Y.  No photos.  Less than five kilometers west of town center.

On the west side of town is a three-part museum. The historic manor house itselfis on display, and inside the house are two distinct exhibits -- one of very ancient finds and one more recent -- located in a well-restored traditional home. 

Any car taxi can take you here, but you'll need to agree in advance with the driver on a fare for him to wait for you here while you see Toghraklek and, most likely since you're already in the area, also take you to the Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb before taking you back to the town center.  If you don't feel like negotiating, the staff at the Muztag Hotel can make arrangements, but you'll pay more.

Toghraklek Manor Museum, inside, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaHere is a good article on Toghraklek Manor, which it calls Toghraklek Villa: 
Toghraklek Villa: An Oasis Among China's Museums. Its restoration and conversion into a museum began in 1998 and opened only a few years later.

Wall with niches (oyuq), Toghraklek Manor, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaNo photos are allowed to be taken inside Toghraklek.  The interior photos here are from a Chinese government book on archaeological sites in Xinjiang.

The Manor House

Wall with niches (oyuq), Toghraklek Manor, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe building is a ten-room, aristocratic courtyard manor house, built in 1911 in the Kashgar architectural style. This style has strong similarities to the traditional Tajik home, though the former is adapted to the desert and the latter to the high mountains.

Dereze (skylight), Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaBoth the home and the neighborhood around it are called Toghraklek Manor.  There is no furniture in the home.  Each room is labeled in Uyghur, Chinese, and English as to its function:  audience hall, ablutions room, storage, etc. 

The following description is taken from the above-linked article in Australia's "China Heritage Newsletter":

Wall in the Throne Room, the Ark, Khiva, Uzbekistan

Niches in wall
Throne Room, the Ark
Khiva, Uzbekistan

"Qiemo is also home to a little visited, but delightful, museum, located in what was once one of the homes of Niyaz Beg, the first xianzhang or county leader of Qiemo, reserved for his third wife. The house, called Toghraklek Villa (Chn.: Tuohulake zhuangyuan), was built around 1911, and is a beautifully preserved and restored example of Kashgar-style aristocratic architecture.

Niches in wall in Taj Mahal, India

Niches in wall
Taj Mahal, India

Niyaz Beg was a powerful local leader, but he was executed by the [Kuomintang] warlord of Xinjiang, Sheng Shicai, in 1936. The house remained the property of Niyaz Beg's family until 1958 when it was requisitioned to become the headquarters of the local commune's production brigade. Later it housed a school and the offices of the local Communist Party. This probably contributed to the excellent state of preservation of the house today."

Apart from the tomb-artifacts room and the ethnographic-display room, the rooms of the house are largely empty except for a few dishes or vases.  The carved, wooden, raised skylight in the ablutions room is called a dereze.

Most rooms have decorative niches, called oyuq, built into the walls.  Such niches are iconic of Islamic architecture.  You can see the theme of walls filled with niches repeated here (left) from a wall of the throne room in Khiva, Uzbekistan, 3,000 km to the east and from the wall in this room (right), with stone niches, in the Taj Mahal at Agra, India 2,700 km to the south.  

Animal fabric, c.1000 bce, found in Zaghunluq Cemetery, displayed at Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaKonghou (harp) musical instrument, c.1000 BCE, from Zaghunluq Cemetery, on display at Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaTomb Artifacts

One large room at Toghraklek has a museum display of about 150 grave goods found in the many Zaghunluq tombs.  For more information about the history of the tombs, see the next section about Zaghunluq.

Most of the best items, unfortunately for the visitor here, have been taken to the Xinjiang Regional Museum in Urumqi, and some additional items can be seen in the Hotan Museum and the Korla Museum.  However, you can still see an interesting breadth of items.

The musical instrument, the carved wooden box, and the animal textile shown here are displayed in the Toghraklek Manor Museum. The two-stringed musical instruments found here, called konghou in Chinese, are the oldest ever found in modern China's borders, and are among the main evidence that this type of instrument entered China from Bronze knife from Zaghunluq similar to knife at Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, Chinathe west.

Carved wooden box, c.1000 BCE, found in Zaghunluq Cemetery, displayed at Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe author also includes images of items that are similar to what you will see in the museum and come from the Zaghunluq cemetery, but may not be the exact items you will see since the author was not allowed to take photos in the museum. These particular bronze knife, pot and spindles were excavated from Zaghunluq but are on display in the Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi; other bronze knives and spindles are on display at Toghraklek. The comb, from Vash-Shahri (near Waxxari / Washixia 180 km east), is of a similar age and style as the combs displayed at Toghraklek.

Other items in the Zaghunluq artifacts display include woolen striped fabrics, felt shoes, wood and bone combs, carved wood, carved jade, bead and shell jewelry, pottery, and several bronze items including seals, coins, a mirror and a knife.

At Toghraklek, all display items are individually labeled in Uyghur, Chinese, and English. But the lack of dates or other facts on the labels makes them sadly less interesting, especially since the graves at Zaghunluq range over a two-thousand year period, from 3,500 to 1,500 years ago.

Wooden comb from nearby Vash-Shahri, similar to combs displayed at Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaSpindles from Zaghunluq cemetery, c.600 bce, similar to those displayed at Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe sign in the display room (text further below) in the tomb artifacts room mainly mentions the connection 2,000 years ago between a local kingdom and the Han dynasty Chinese empire, and claims constant intimate contact with central plains China, which isn't quite historically accurate. But more frustrating is that it tells nothing about the people who were buried here nor their lifestyle, culture, religion or language. Do your research before you go -- especially if you want to use Wikipedia, which is generally blocked in China.

Taking photos was not allowed. The spinning wheel photo (from the Ethnography exhibit), as well as the images of the fabric, kongou, bronze knife, carved wood items, spindles, pot, ancient food, hat and the interiors of the museum, are from A Grand View of Xinjiang's Cultural Relics and Historic Sites published by the Xinjiang government's cultural heritage department.

Ethnographic Exhibit

Spinning wheel, Toghraklek Manor Museum, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe collection in the second exhibit room, which spills out into the courtyard, consists of about 120 Uyghur household and farm items from the last century. Farm tools, Hotan Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, China

If you are interested in the daily life of the recent rural Uyghur people, this section will please you.  The items here are also identified in Chinese, Uyghur, and English labels.

Items on display include pots, platters, and other kitchen items, a spinning wheel (shown here) and other textile technology, a cradle and child-care tools, and other household implements and a wide variety of farm tools.

Taking photos was not allowed, so the author presents similar items from the Ethnography Exhibit of the Hotan Anthropology Museum in Hotan. These include farm implements, carpet making tools, Carpet-making tools, Hotan Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, Chinajade working tools and infant cradle catheters.

With regard to the latter, in all Central Asian cultures, even today, infants are wrapped into their cradles when not being held. The cradle and mattress has a hole in the bottom, and wooden catheters (different for boys and girls) are placed when Boy and Girl Infant Cradle Catheter, Hotan Museum, Xinjiang, Chinathe baby is swaddled so that urine exits into a bowl underneath and baby stays dry.

A Note about Names and Spelling

The name Toghraklek derives from toghrak, the Uyghur word for the desert poplar, the most common tree in the desert regions of north-west China and all of Central Asia.  The author doesn't know the meaning of the "-lek" suffix in Uyghur.

This tree is also called the diversiform-leaved poplar (poplulus diversifolia) or euphrates poplar (populus euphratica).  Other common names Jade-working tools, Hotan Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, Chinafor this tree include firat poplar, tograk poplar, downy poplar, tartar poplar, or turanta poplar.

The Chinese name for the toghrak poplar is 胡杨 (hú yáng). Yang means poplar and hu is a common designation in China for anything that comes from the northwest. For example, the carrot, which entered China through Toghrak - diversiform-leaved poplar - hu yang, Xinjiang, ChinaXinjiang, is called a 'hu' turnip.  More frequently seen lining the roads of Xinjiang is its cousin, the straight poplar or Chinese white poplar - populus tomentosa.

On the notice at the Toghraklek Manor Museum, the Chinese name is written 托乎拉克 with the roman given as Tuhulak.  Toghraklek has also been transliterated from the Chinese in various ways, ranging from Tuogelakeleike to Tuolak or Tuhkak (as on the County Travel Bureau map).

Sign at Toghraklek Manor in English (verbatim)

Carved cup, found in Zaghunluq cemetery, Cherchen / Qiemo, displayed in Urumqi Museum, Xinjiang, ChinaApart from the multi-lingual labels for each display item and identifying the function of each room of the house, the only information for visitors at the museum is three identical signs -- in Uyghur, Chinese, and English -- hanging on the tomb artifacts room.

 Felt pointed hat, found in Zaghunluq cemetery, Cherchen / Qiemo, displayed in Urumqi Museum, Xinjiang, China"QieMo is in the southern part of Baringlen Mongolia autonomic shire of Xingjiang, in the southeastern rim of Tarim Basin.  With the Kunlun montains at its south and the Taclamacan Desert at its north.  QieMo has remote history and nature resource.  It has an area of 140,000 square kilometers.
At one time, QieMo was an oasis country at the southern part of "Silk Road," which was one of" the Thirty-six countries of the Western Region."  According to archaeological discoveries, there were people several thousand years ago.  In 59 BC, QieMo belonged to Han Dynasty.  it has kept intimate contact with central government.  In 1914, QieMo was founded.
QieMo had brought up glorious ancient civilizations for thousands of years.  Lots of remains here, such as Molech rock carving, tomb field at zagunluk..., show the combination and cultures.
Today people here are working hard to get QieMo richer and more beautiful."

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

ZAGHUNLUQ ANCIENT MUMMY TOMB

Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb building, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

扎滚鲁克古墓群景点  Zagunluk Ancient Group Tomb Scenic Spot
Zagunluke Gumuqun Jingdian (zāgǔnlǔkè gǔmùqún jǐngdiǎn)

Tel. 0996-792-9001, 30Y.  No photos. 
09:30-13:30, 16:30-19:30, probably every day. Not staffed -- Go to Toghraklek Manor, just a few kilometers away, to get the docent, who has the key, and bring her/him to the Zaghunluq Tomb building. 

Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb ticket, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe main tourist attraction in Cherchen / Qiemo is the mummy tomb found in the adjoining village of Zaghunluq.  In Chinese guides, it is called 扎滚鲁克古墓群景点, Zagunluke Ancient Group Tomb Scenic Spot.

On the vast, empty salt plateau, a tiny pink building stands alone.  It was built over one of the hundreds of tombs at this site, excavated only a decade ago but dating back thousands of years.  In this 2,600 year old tomb, you can see, a few meters down through the plexiglass cover, fourteen naturally mummified bodies, in their bright clothes with their variety of funerary offerings in excellent condition, looking as if they had been placed quite recently. 

You can also observe, close up, two 2,400 year old mummies in display cases, a husband and wife that had been buried together in a separate tomb nearby. In the room photo to the right, you can see the display cases and below to the left and right you can see images of the two mummies. Although they are in remarkable condition for their age, they are not the best quality mummies from this site; those have been taken for display at the Xinjiang Regional Museum in Urumqi, Xinjiang.

Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb building - inside, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

Location and Transport

The Zaghunluq site is less than five kilometers southwest of the city center, passing through rural Cherchen / Qiemo with its poplar-lined lanes, and just 500 m west of the edge of the oasis.  You can take a regular taxi, but your driver must pick up the docent with the key at the Toghraklek Manor Museum (above) before going to the site. 

You might want to arrange with your driver in advance for a price that includes him waiting for you as you see the Toghraklek Manor museum, because the museum includes a good selection of artifacts from the excavated graves, and then take you and the docent to Zaghunluq. 

Zaghunluq Section Contents

Mummy in case, c.400 bce, Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

2400-year-old mummy, Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaThe author has written a description and history of the Zaghunluq Cemetery, which is in a separate page due to its length.

Of the following sections in that document, the Location and Transport and The Fascination sections are also included here on the main page.

Zaghunluq Section Contents
  • Location and Transport
  • The Fascination
  • A Building over a Tomb
  • Hundreds of Tombs
  • Making a Mummy
  • A Complex Sandwich
  • Group Tombs
  • Extensive Wardrobes
  • Not Quite Giants
  • Other Artifacts
  • Discovery
  • Renewed Interest
  • Names and Spelling
  • Sign at Zaghunluq Tomb
The FascinationZaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb ticket, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China

For many travelers, interest is piqued by:

The Zaghunluq mummies have all these bases well covered. 

You don't need to know their history to be awed by 3,000 year old mummies.

Cherchen Man, c.1000 bce, Zaghunluq cemetery, Cherchen / Qiemo, on display at Urumqi Museum,  Xinjiang, China

Cherchen Man c.1000 BCE
found at Zaghunluq,
on display at Xinjiang Regional Museum,Urumqi

Yet, if you do look into their history, as much as we know, there is still so much unknown. 

Even as more information emerges from on-going research and newer excavations, few of the facts provide definitive answers and some even raise new questions.

But even without knowing much of their history, one knows the earliest cemetery residents lived in dynamic times:  the days of Zoroaster in Iran, Solomon in Israel, during the Vedic period in India, and just a few hundred years after Ramses the Great in Egypt and the late Bronze Age collapse of several great Mediterranean civilizations -- Mycenae and the Hittites. Their time was at the tail end of the vast Indo-European migrations ranging to India and to Ireland, of which these people were the easternmost branch; living hundreds of years before ancient Greece or Rome were founded, and many hundreds of years before Qin Shihuangdi first unified China and created his terracotta warriors.

 

Head here for much more detail about Zaghunluq and the history of the mummies .

 

LALULIK RUINS

来利勒克 Lerilec (sometimes Lalileke or Lailileke)
Y50 entry.  Nine very rough kilometers from the center.

Lalulik Ruins near Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China -  © Kanoda Yoshihito
Lalulik (Lalilek) Ruins
© Kanoda Yoshihito

http://www.china-world.info/
Click on Xinjiang 新疆 on map
and then click on Bayingolin
巴音郭楞蒙古自治州 (lower right).

Lalulik is a small site -- not the main site of ancient Silk Road city-kingdom of Calmadana. There is very little left to see, apart from eroded remains of a few mud brick buildings.  On the other hand, this is about the most convenient and inexpensive ancient site other than Melikawat, which is 30km outside of Hotan, along the southern route.

Explorer M. Aurel Stein visited Lalulik briefly in 1906.  Though he commented on the abundance of pottery shards, he did not rate the site as meriting an excavation. (Stein was generally more interested in the historical period in Xinjiang, after the Iron Age.)

"The ' Tati ' of Lālulik, to which I was subsequently taken at a distance of about two and a half miles northward, proved to be of the same character, except that small ' witnesses ' of loess, about four to six feet in height, were here frequent. Pottery débris covered the ground for over a mile towards the existing oasis. A third ' Tati ' area in this neighbourhood, called Koyagh-kelme, I was obliged from want of time to leave unvisited. I had seen enough to make sure that none of these ' Tatis ' offered scope for systematic archaeological labour. Nor did I succeed in discovering among their small débris anything affording a definite clue as to their age."  Stein, "Serindia," p. 303

Lalulik Ruins near Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China from County Travel Bureau mapNeleke, which Stein called Nan-Yaigan, is another ancient site, said to be a bit further away from Cherchen / Qiemo, but the author was told it is not open for visitors and not much remains there either.

Both of the above were probably part of the ancient kingdom of Cherchen / Qiemo.  The head of the Cultural Relics Bureau, Turdi Kerim, might be able to add some insight into these ruins, if you have a translator.

Tractor towing vehicle stuck in sand at Lalulik Ruins near Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China © Kanoda Yoshihito, www.china-world.info

Tractor towing vehicle Lalulik (Lalilek) Ruins
© Kanoda Yoshihito
(See link above)

A four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to drive there, as indicated in the image (below left) of a vehicle being towed by a tractor after having gotten bogged down in the sand. 

The author was quoted Y150 for a 4WD car and driver, round trip, likely negotiable, but the author did not visit.  The site is just 9 km away but it is said to take an hour each way over very rough road.  The Muztag Hotel can arrange for a driver and car. 

Stein thought that the current town sits on the main site of the ancient city-kingdom, but modern researchers disagree, believing it to be still lost to history under the sands of the Taklamakan Desert many kilometers to the north.

Seeking the capital of ancient Calmadana by air, 2003, © http://www.exploration-eurasia.com/EurAsia/index.htm

The main site of the kingdom of Calmadana has not yet been found. Calmadana, ancient Cherchen / Qiemo, was at its height from about 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE, recorded in Chinese documents throughout the first millennium.  Explorer Christoph Baumer co-led a joint Chinese-Swiss expedition, in 2003, into the deep desert north of Cherchen / Qiemo, but the search was unsuccessful. To the right is an image of aerial reconnaissance during this expedition

Chinese marketing blurbs for Lalulik note that it holds the world record as the archaeological site with the greatest number of pottery shards per square meter, at 116.  It would be unwise of you to reduce that to 115, as the Chinese are quite vigilant about their cultural heritage being removed from the country.

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

 

SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD

Molcha River Ancient Petroglyphs (Rock Carvings) near Serikule Village

Molcha River rock carving, Serikule Village, Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, ChinaEntry fee/permit 100Y, plus the cost of finding and hiring a guide who knows about the petroglyphs and where they are (but who most likely doesn’t speak English) plus the cost of hiring a car and driver plus the cost of finding and hiring a translator, if you want one.

Molcha River rock carving, Serikule Village, Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, ChinaThe Qiemo County Travel Bureau map says the "cliff paintings" can be seen as a day trip. The bureau can likely arrange for renting a jeep driven by someone who knows where the petroglyphs are. The author does not know if there are public buses or minibuses which serve Serikule Village nor, if you can take public transit, whether there is lodging in Aoyiyayilake Township and whether you should pay the entry fee in Cherchen / Qiemo before you leave or near the site.

The Chinese characters for "rock carvings" are the same as for "cliff painting" or "rock murals."  In this case, they are rock carvings or petroglyphs. Some translations into English from the Chinese often say paintings or murals.

The rock carvings are located 180 km southwest of Cherchen / Qiemo, near the village of Serikule.  Serikule is on the east-west road in the Kunlun Mountains paralleling Highway 315.  From Cherchen / Qiemo, one heads south to Atqan / Aqiang (37.3°N, 85.5°E), then west to Serikule, in Aoyiyayilake Township, located along the Molcha / Moleqie River, which is shown on the county map. These roads are quite basic, though plans are in process to improve them.


Swiss explorer Christoph Baumer indicates the petroglyphs were carved over a long period of time spanning the Bronze Age (2000 - 900 BCE) and Iron Age (900 - 130 BCE). In "Southern Silk Road," Baumer writes of this set and a very similar set of rock carvings in central-eastern Xinjiang in the Kuruktag Mountains:

"The economic system of the Tarim Basin in the Bronze Age is known to us not only through excavations -- especially funeral offerings -- but also thanks to prehistoric rock carvings.  Today's Xinjiang region is rich in rock images; it has thirty-three fairly large sites, six of which are in the Tarim Basin.  What strikes one first is the great similarity with the petroglyphs of the Scythians, the Eurasian steppe population from the Altai mountain range and the Ordos [the area of today's Inner Mongolia inside the bend of the Yellow River], especially when representing the ibex, hart with large antlers, trees of life, hunters, and dancers.

Xingdi petroglyphs, Quruq Tagh Mountains, north of Konche River, Xinjiang, China
Xingdi petroglyphs (similar to Molcha River petroglyphs), Quruq Tagh Mountains, north of Konche River, Xinjiang, China

Two locations are especially relevant to our subject.  These are the older petroglyphs of Xingdi in the Kuruktag mountains north of the Konche Darya, and the rock carvings at the base of the Kunlun in the Qiemo district, which is traversed by the Silk Road.  At both sites we find scenes dealing with agriculture, cattle raising and hunting.  We find plants, elongated wooden structures and bullocks; and pastoral scenes with sheep, goats, horses and camels looked after by herdsmen on foot or on horseback, their weapons being mostly the bow and arrow but also the sling and the club.  These rock engravings dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages show the three different forms of economy at that time.  The hunting and pastoral scenes are more frequent, and representations from the agrarian world are rather few and far between.  Also, the large rock art site of Quergou in Kutubi County is noteworthy in that several human figures show clear Indo-European physical characteristics."
--Christoph Baumer, "Southern Silk Road," p. 28-29

The image to the left is from the Quruqtag set of petroglyphs, taken by Folke Bergman for Archaeological Researches in Sinkiang during his time with Sven Hedin in Xinjiang in the 1930s.  The author uses this Quruqtag image since Baumer indicates those petroglyphs are similar in time and style to the Molcha River petroglyphs and because the author didn't visit this site and hasn't found pictures elsewhere of these recently discovered petroglyphs.  The two smaller images here, however, are from the rock carving site near Cherchen / Qiemo.

A Chinese tourism web site notes that there are thousands of individual petroglyphs at the site, on the eastern bank of the river. The images reach up to 80 meters on a black sandstone cliff face, so a pair of binoculars might be helpful to the visitor. Scenes include livestock grazing, horseback riding, and hunting with bow and arrow. There are also abstract images, including stripes, and images of human hands and the moon and stars. Many scenes depict battles and dancing. Animals depicted include camels, buffalo, horses, deer, antelope, foxes, dogs, leopards, snakes, donkeys, yaks, goats, and wild ass. Most animal glyphs are 25 cm by 18 cm. (If you copy some of the Chinese text into a Google search, Google usually finds the site, and you can click 'Translate This Page' to get a rough approximation in English.)

A Chinese news article describes a 1985 expedition by the Archaeological Survey Group of the Xinjiang Museum to this site. This article claims the oldest petroglyphs may date back 8000 years. Although ancient, the article notes that the petroglyphs are still clear and vivid. The local shepherds had long known of the petroglyphs here, which they called fairy paintings. News broke to the public of the site, however, only in 2004 [though earlier in the academic community, where it was included in Christoph Baumer's 2003 (second edition) book]. This article notes that almost all the carvings face the rising sun in the east. To the list of animals above, this article added Argali sheep. Noting depictions of mountains (triangles) and rivers, the article posits the rock carvings might be expressing an ancient shamanistic spiritual belief in the mountains as a father god and water as a mother goddess, and indicates that this location was likely considered a holy place and was not likely near any habitation. The article indicates this trip was associated with a CCTV-10 program called "Into No-Man's Land."

 

Exploring Hotan Jade Culture Tour - Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour

Tatleksu (Uyghur, named for nearby river)
塔特勒克苏 tǎtélèkèsū  Tatelekesu
Jade Mine   玉矿  yù kuàng   Yukuang
Two-day tour.  Cost unknown.

Note: A heavy rainstorm in the hills in August 2007 swept some of the mine equipment and quite a bit of jade down the Tatleksu River -- a boon to those living alongside the river but a tragedy for the mine operations. Several locals became rich with their finds, since the mine bought back the found jade at market prices.  The author does not know if this event has stopped the tours but, though the mine clearly suffered a loss, the article does not indicate that it has ceased operation.

Although for millennia Hotan, 600 km east, has been famed as the source of most of the jade for China, some of that ancient jade was also washed down the other rivers emerging from the Kunlun Mountains, especially the larger rivers such as the Cherchen River here and the Yarkand River west of Hotan. All jade from the Kunlun Mountains is chemically the same and qualifies as 'Hotan jade.' Two-thirds of today's jade output from Xinjiang comes from mines in the mountains south of Cherchen / Qiemo. 

A 1,502 kg boulder of jade can be seen on display in the lobby of the Muztag Hotel.  It was found in August 1995 at the Takleksu Jade mine and, to that date, was the largest jade boulder found in the region.  It is 1.145 m high, 0.99 m wide and 1.13 m thick.

Ten-ton white jade king, Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaIn 2005, however, a 10-ton piece of white jade, called the White Jade King, was found, along with a 7-ton and a 3-ton piece within a few days of this 10-ton piece.  A road had to be built from the mine to the existing road head to transport these boulders.  It took 73 people 98 days to build 21 km of road in order to transport the three boulders to Cherchen / Qiemo.  Previously, the workers and the extracted jade had to travel the last 21 km from the mine on foot, on donkey, or on camel.

Starting that year, Cherchen / Qiemo has been holding a Jade Festival late each August.

The Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau's map describes this two-day jade-hunting tour, including a visit to the active Tatleksu Jade Mine in the Kunlun Mountains south of town, taking advantage of this recent investment in the road.  In addition to touring the Jade Mine, one gets the opportunity to search for jade in the nearby Tatleksu River.

Based on a November 2006 article Xinjiang Opens Exploring the Jade Culture Tourist Route, this tour is a new offering for the area. "The new tour route called 'Exploring Hotan Jade Culture Tour' will provide travelers with opportunities to experience the area's jade-mining culture and history as well as to enjoy the unique natural beauty of the Kunlun Mountains. Visitors can actually mine jade like generations of Chinese miners before them."

60-ton gray jade king, Kunlun Mountains, Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, ChinaIn 2006, a massive 60-ton green jade boulder, called the Grey Jade King, was found exposed atop one of these hills. That piece was cleared and engraved, but it remains on the mountaintop.

Seated human figure in Hotan jade, Fu Hao tomb, 1250 BCE, Anyang, Henan, ChinaThe Tatleksu (Tatilikesu or Tatelekese or Tatelekesu) Jade Mine was founded in 1972, has 80 employees, and has the ability to mine most of 60 tons of jade ore per year, two-thirds of Xinjiang's total. There are a few other working jade mines in the mountains nearby. One of those no longer in operation, which you pass on the way to Tatleksu, is the Emperor Jade Mine, which supplied jade to perhaps the Qin dynasty court.

One source indicates that the jade mine might be at 3500 to 4500 meters, so some people might experience issues with altitude.

Peoples along the northern rim of the Kunlun Mountains have been trading Hotan jade with central plains China for millennia. More than 700 carved jade pieces were found in the 1,250 BCE tomb of Fu Hao, the famous woman general and emperor's consort of the Shang dynasty. Almost all of this jade has been analyzed and identified as being Hotan jade, and several of the pieces were identified as being several hundred years old before being placed in the tomb. There is also evidence of Chinese silk being traded to a great distance, having been found in tombs from 1500 BC in Afghanistan and a princely grave of Iron Age Germany.

 

Sightseeing of Wild Animals in the Kunlun Mountains

野生动物 (yě shēng dòng wù) Yesheng Dongwu
100Y entry. 

Tibetan Antelope (Chiru), Kunlun Mountains, ChinaThis destination is posted on the official price list for tourist attractions in Qiemo County and is also mentioned on the map of the Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau as a 3-day trip to the south.  The map blurb notes, "Springs, Scenery of the plain in Tula, Tula Meadow (camping headquarters), wild animals sightseeing and entertainment in central Kunlun Mountains."

The author was told the roads are bad and 4WD vehicle is recommended.

This appears not to be part of the very large Altun Mountains Nature Preserve to the east, which is accessible from Charklik / Ruoqiang.

Argali sheep, Kunlun Mountains, Xinjiang, ChinaOne Chinese source the author believes refers to this site calls it the Bayingolin Wildlife Park, which it says is 232 km south of Cherchen / Qiemo, 250 km by 110 km.  This source says the park has an average altitude of 5,656 m; although this average clearly includes the higher peaks rimming the park, some health issues with altitude could be involved.

The Qiemo County Travel Bureau map indicates that the area for wild animal sightseeing is in an off-road area south of Kulamlak Village.  Another web site calls a visit here 'Safari in Kunlun.' 

Kiang - Tibetan wild ass - equus hemionus, Xinjiang, ChinaThat article mentions wild yak, brown bear, Tibetan antelope (also called chiru in Tibetan or 藏羚 zàng líng in Chinese), snowcock, eagle, Tibetan wild ass (kiang in Tibetan), Argali sheep (also known as Marco Polo sheep), red deer, red or Tibetan fox, wild camels, and lynx.  The Altun Mountain Nature Reserve, further east, has Tibetan gazelles, blue sheep, snow leopard, jackal, and wolf, and birds include chough, vulture, mottle-headed goose, brown-headed gull and various duck species, so many of these are also likely to be found here. The Tibetan antelope, prized for its soft shahtoosh fur, for which the animal must be killed to obtain, is much endangered.

 

Bayingolin Altun International Hunting Park

If merely seeing the wild animals isn’t enough for you, there’s also an International Hunting Park 150 km southeast of Cherchen / Qiemo.  The Qiemo County Travel Bureau map shows the hunting area located between Kulamlak Village and Tula Village.  Urumqi-based tour guide Mark Zhong says that visitors can bring their own gun or the tour can provide it.  The author does not know all the types of animals available to hunt, the likelihood of finding target animals, or the hunting fees.

An article translated from Chinese by Google calls this the Bayingolin Altun International Hunting Ground and says it was founded by the state Forestry Department in April 1993 as the first hunting park in Xinjiang.  It is at an altitude of 3,000 m and is 100 square kilometers in size.  The article says the hunting park is open to both domestic and foreign tourists. 

The article also says that one can harvest, among other animals, red deer and Tibetan antelope (chiru) (though the author believes the latter may be a mistake, as the chiru is an endangered species, and perhaps refers to the Tibetan gazelle.

Tazhong Oil Field

塔中 Tazhong 油田 youtian (yóu tián) (oil field)

Tazhong mining town - aerial view, Cherchen / Qiemo County, Xinjiang, China

Tazhong mining town, Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, China
© Webistan

In the 1980s, major oil deposits were discovered in Xinjiang, estimated to exceed the United States oil reserves. The first exploited were those at Lunnan, west of Korla, on the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The Chinese performed amazing feats of engineering to build a highway across the desert, from Luntai in the north to Niya / Minfeng in the south, with a spur road from the oil fields at Tazhong straight to Cherchen / Qiemo to the southeast.

The Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau map / brochure mentions an oil field tour for visitors. According to the Qiemo County Travel Bureau map blurb, one can arrange for a tour of the Tazhong Oilfields located in the heart of the Taklamakan Desert.  The name Tazhong comes from Ta, short for Taklamakan, and Zhong meaning center or middle. The author does not have information on the cost nor any other arrangements for this tour. A Kashgar travel agent called the County Travel Bureau and reported that there are no English-speaking tours, but the author does not know if tours can be arranged if the group brings a translator.

The Travel Bureau's description refers to the desert as “the Sea of Death” and the oil derricks as “the Forest of Hope.”  It says the oil field tour could be done as a day trip.  Yet it also says the tour includes oil field sightseeing, a tour of a Psammophyte Garden and night scenes of the oil field, likely including flare stacks burning in the night sky, which would tend to imply this is an overnight trip. (Psammophytes are desert-loving plants. In this case, these are likely to include the Chinese tamarisk and the diversiform-leaved poplar which are found everywhere in the Tarim Basin.)

See more about the Taklamakan Desert, Tazhong, and the Tarim Highway at the Niya / Minfeng page of this Central Asia Traveler site. 

To the left is an image of the desert community of Tazhong, a rough-and-ready mining settlement with little more than bars, basic restaurants, basic lodging, basic shops, bordellos, and a gas station. This photo is ten years old, so the place is likely larger but, according to reports, not much different. Most foreign visitors that are part of a tour around Xinjiang prefer to spend the night in the desert rather than in town.

oil derrick in desert
Tazhong oil field derrick  
© Gareth Morgan,

If you want to go by yourself to Tazhong from Cherchen / Qiemo via the spur road, you would need to take a taxi, since all the buses go the long way via Niya / Minfeng. (See below under Getting There and Away -- It is possible that the Korla buses travel via the spur to Tazhong, though the author was told that all buses go via Niya / Minfeng.)  And since the taxi driver's not likely to get a fare for the return leg, you'll probably have to pay for both ways, even if you're not going both ways.  One should also note that this stretch of road is not as well traveled as the Tarim Highway, so if you have problems, you may be on your own for a while, so bring extra water and food and reading material.  Even if your taxi driver has a mobile phone, there may be no towers along this stretch.

Oil Field Worker, Tazhong, Xinjiang, China, Image source: © webistan
Tazhong oil field worker,
Taklamakan Desert,
Xinjiang, China
© Webistan

The road from Tazhong to Highway 315 near Cherchen / Qiemo is 188 km, which is 357 km shorter than going from Cherchen / Qiemo to Niya / Minfeng (315 km) and then from Niya / Minfeng to Tazhong (230 km).

If you are traveling the southern Silk Road in a private car, you could go from Niya / Minfeng to the Mazar Imam Jafar Sadiq shrine, then continue on north to Tazhong that same day.  Tazhong is 230km from Niya / Minfeng or 160 km from the Mazar.  You could stay overnight in a very basic accommodation in Tazhong or spend the night, as most tourists prefer, in the open dunes.  You could take the tour of the oilfields the next day (if your tour guide can make arrangements -- see the Cherchen / Qiemo County Travel Bureau telephone number above), and then travel via the spur road to Cherchen / Qiemo. Going from Niya / Minfeng to Cherchen / Qiemo via Tazhong (418 km) is only 100 km longer than going directly on Highway 315 (315 km).

Ulugh Muztagh Peak

One can make a mountaineering expedition to Ulugh Muztagh (also called Muztagh Ulugh) at 6,973 meters, with a western peak at 6,925.  (Some older sources, including some maps, incorrectly place it at more than 7,700 meters.) 

Ulugh Muztagh Peak, Arka Tagh Mountains, (provincial border of Xinjiang and Tibet), accessed  south of Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, ChinaIn Uyghur, Muztagh means Ice Mountain or Glacier Mountain, and Ulugh means Great.  This peak has been summitted twice.  As might be expected with that name, this peak shares the name 'Muztagh' with at least two other well-known peaks in the area, including the much-higher and well-known Muztagh-Ata, or Father of all Ice Mountains, southeast of Kashgar, and a peak just called Muztagh, 6,638 m, south of Hotan.

The author does not know the Chinese name for this mountain, but feng (峰 fēng) is the Chinese word for peak or summit. If they use the characters used for the Muztag Hotel in Xinjiang, Muzitage (木孜塔格 mù zī tǎ gé). If they use the same characters as for Muztagh Ata, it would be Mushitage (慕士塔格 Mùshìtǎgé)

Ulugh Muztagh Peak (provincial border Tibet and Xinjiang), and Cherchen / Qiemo, Xinjiang, China - Satellite Image © Google To the left, you can see the large snow-capped area of Ulugh Muztagh, south of Cherchen / Qiemo, on a satellite image. To the right (above) is a photograph of the mountain itself, showing its dual peaks.

The mountain has twin peaks. The eastern peak (the higher of the two) has been summitted only once (as of 2003), in 1985 by a joint American / Chinese group, and the western peak once by a Finnish group in 2003. Several other expeditions were turned back by the enormous difficulty going overland to even reach the foot of the massif, though the Finnish team found a much better route on their return trip to Cherchen / Qiemo; it took them 17 days to reach base camp and only 2 days to return to Cherchen / Qiemo by the shorter route.

Ulugh Muztagh Peak expedition route map, Finnish 2003 team, provincial border Tibet and Xinjiang, China - map © MSN EncartaThough often said to be in the Kunlun Mountains, it is actually in the Arka Tagh, a geologically distinct mountain range. "The Muztagh Feng is [in] an isolated range, found well to the south of the Kunlun and on the high grounds of the Northern Tibet/Qinghai plateau." (Source: Linked article below on Ulugh Muztagh.)

Cherchen / Qiemo is the best place from which to launch an expedition on the mountain. One goes south and then east, going through the storied Tula Pastures, the last settlement before the wilderness.

Somewhere along this route, probably before Tula, lies the still undiscovered settlement of the ancient Xiao Yuan kingdom, recorded in the second century BC by the Chinese as one of 36 kingdoms in the Western Regions. It was quite a tiny 'kingdom,' having only 160 inhabitants, but may have been considered worthy of note, however, since the inhabitants may have been a Yuezhi (月氏 yuè zhì) tribe, part of the large Yuezhi nomadic tribal confederation that was pushed out of northwest Xinjiang by the nomadic Xiong Nu (匈奴 xiōng nú) in 176 BCE, when they conquered all of what is now Xinjiang and beyond. Chinese records indicate that a large group of the Yuezhi migrated west then south into what is now Afghanistan (where they later emerged as the vast and powerful Kushan Empire) but a smaller group went south to settle among the Qiang. In that time, to the south and east of the Cherchen / Qiemo area, the region was inhabited mainly by the Qiang (羌 qiāng), a proto-Tibetan people who also inhabited what is now Qinghai and much of Gansu.

"The 2nd-1st century BCE 'Records of the Great Historian', or Shiji, by Sima Qian notes: 'The Yuezhi originally lived in the area between the Qilian or Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan) and Dunhuang, but after they were defeated by the Xiongnu they moved far away to the west, beyond Dayuan, where they attacked and conquered the people of Daxia and set up the court of their king on the northern bank of the Gui [Oxus] River. A small number of their people who were unable to make the journey west sought refuge among the Qiang barbarians in the Southern Mountains, where they are known as the Lesser Yuezhi.' " Source: Wikipedia

South of Ulugh Muztagh is the vast Qiang Tang plateau (羌塘高原 qiāng táng gāo yuán), which is sometimes written Qiangtang or Chang Tang or Changtang. This enormous alpine basin, at 4,500-5,000 m, is 600,000 square kilometers with only 30,000 inhabitants. It makes up a large portion of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Lhasa runs in part across the Qiang Tang. A large part of the Qiang Tang plateau, 26-29 million hectares, is one the world's largest protected areas. (Source: UN Environment Program)

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

HISTORY

As a history of the area, we offer the account written by explorer M. Aurel Stein in his 1921 book 'Serindia,' in Chapter VIII Section 1 - Early Accounts of Charchan.

The author also highly recommends the book 'Wild West China' by Christian Tyler for a very readable overview of Xinjiang history, ancient and recent. (At Google Books, click on 'Preview this book.') (However, it has very little specifically about Cherchen / Qiemo.)

GEOGRAPHY

Altun or Altyn Mountains - Uyghur: Altun Tagh. Chinese: A'erjin Shan (阿尔金山 a er jin shan, usually Arjin Shan). One of the chief constituent ranges of the Kunlun Mountains The Altun Mountains branch off from the Kunlun Mountains south of Cherchen / Qiemo and run for more than 650 km (some sources say 1,000 km) southwest to northeast. This range forms part of the boundary between the Tarim Basin to the north in Xinjiang and the Qaidam Basin in the south in Tibet and Qinghai Province. Together with the Qilian Shan, they are sometimes called the Nan Shan (southern mountains).

Aerial photo showing Altyn Tagh fault, Xinjiang and Tibet, China, Source: The Altyn Tagh Fault, David L. Alles, Western Washington University Map showing Altyn Tagh fault, , Xinjiang and Tibet, China, Source: The Altyn Tagh Fault, David L. Alles, Western Washington University

Altyn Tagh Fault - The major Altyn Tagh fault runs along this range. "The Altyn Tagh fault (ATF) is the geologic boundary between the Tibetan Plateau and the Tarim Basin in northwest China. As such it is one of the major geomorphologic boundaries on Earth and marks the abrupt transition from the world's highest plateau to the world's second largest desert basin. ... The ATF is a left-lateral, strike-slip fault that accommodates the relative horizontal plate motion between the Indian and Eurasian plates. ... The Tibetan Plateau covers an area of ~1,000 by 2,500 kilometers (km), with an average elevation above sea level of over 4,500 meters (m). The Tarim Basin is much lower with an average elevation of ~1000 m and occupies an area of roughly 400 by 1400 km. The total length of the fault is more than 1500 km long (up to 2500 km, [per some sources]) and runs the length of the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau from the Pamir mountain range on the west to the Qilian mountain range on the east." (Source: The Altyn Tagh Fault, edited by David L. Alles, Western Washington University)

Kunlun Mountains (昆仑山 Kunlun Shan) - One of the longest mountain chains in Asia, stretching more than 3,000 kilometers from Pamirs in the west to south of Cherchen / Qiemo, where it divides into three ranges, including Altun to the east, and Qilian to the east-southeast. The Kunlun (昆仑) is the northern boundary of the Tibetan plateau. The Kunlun, Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan ranges, as well as the Tibetan plateau, were formed over millions of years by the constant push of the Indian subcontinent into the Asian land mass. The Tarim Basin was the last remnant of the extinct Tethys Sea, a geological block that resisted the uplift that created mountains north, south and west of it. The Qiang Tang basin is also such a block like the Tarim Basin, and they are the central geological blocks of Tibet and Xinjiang, and neither has folded under the pressure though the former has been uplifted. The Tethys Sea once also covered all these highest mountain ranges in the world.

The highest peak in the Kunlun range itself, south of Keriya / Yutian, is the Kunlun Goddess or Liushi Shan, the 112th highest peak in the world and, at 7,167 m, still one of the '7000s' prized by mountaineers. It was first summitted in 1949.

The highest peaks often reported to be in the Kunlun are, in the east, Muztagh Ata (7,546 m, the 43rd highest peak in the world and one of the easiest to climb) and the taller Konghur Tagh (7,649, 37th highest). Both of these are in separate subranges and, by many, no longer considered part of the Kunlun Range proper, and Muztagh Ata is in fact now considered by many to be geologically part of the Pamirs.

Ulugh Muztagh is listed in several sources as being in the Kunlun but is actually in an unrelated range to the south, the Arka Tagh. At 6,973, it just misses being in the '7000s'. (Older reports, still erroneously quoted by some sources today, put Ulugh Muztagh at 7,723 m.)

The following passage is quoted in several sources and may be originally from Wikipedia: "The Kunlun mountains are believed to be Taoist paradise. The first to visit this paradise was, according to the legends, King Mu (976-922 BCE) of the Zhou Dynasty. He supposedly discovered there the Jade Palace of Huang-Di, the mythical Yellow Emperor and originator of Chinese culture, and met Hsi Wang Mu (Xi Wang Mu), the 'Spirit Mother of the West' usually called the 'Queen Mother of the West', who was the object of an ancient religious cult which reached its peak in the Han Dynasty, also had her mythical abode in these mountains. The story has interesting parallels with the story of the meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (ca 950 BCE)." It is not surprising that the distant source of most of ancient China's jade would become the subject of myth and legend.

Arka Tagh Mountains (阿尔格山 a er ge shan, often written Arkatag or Arka Shan) - A small independent mountain range to the south between the Altun Mountains and the Kunlun Mountains, contains Ulugh Muztagh, a large massif and the highest peak in this area, 6,973 m. Ulugh Muztagh is often (though erroneously) considered to be in the nearby Kunlun Mountains. See more above about Ulugh Muztagh.

 

LINKS

Links Within This Site

Kunlun Square, Cherchen / QiemoChildren, Keriya / Yutian

Southeastern Rim

The home page for this web site will be an overview of the Southeastern Rim of the Taklamakan, with more specific information on the Taklamakan Desert and the jade which has been the region's lifeblood for at least 3,500 years.

Other sights in this area include 2,600-year-old mummies, museums, nature reserves, handmade silk and carpet workshops, jade mines, oil field, rock carvings, shrines, mosques, bazaars and twisty old towns to explore, as well as desert sand dunes and the extensive Chinese desert-control systems trying to keep them at bay.

Niya / Minfeng

Chairman Mao Monument, Niya / Minfeng, Xinjiang, ChinaDecorative courtyard door, Niya / Minfeng, Xinjiang, ChinaA small town with a big reputation as the gateway to the most famous Xinjiang archaeological site of ancient Niya. Today, more famous as the southern terminus of the Tarim Highway across the heart of the Taklamakan Desert, providing access to the enormous oil reserves there. The monument with the quote from Chairman Mao is the most obvious tourist sight, and the main bazaar is on Sunday. But the visitor pleasures in town are mainly access to the daily life of the rural Uyghur people in this oasis town, wandering Uyghur neighborhoods, agricultural roads and sheep pastures. A short taxi ride can take one to sand dunes for the visitor to climb like the caravans of yore.

Restaurant and lodging details are provided, along with bus schedules north, south, east and west, and Internet access.

Ninety kilometers north of town, and five kilometers north of an isolated hamlet in the desert, is an Islamic shrine, Mazar Imam Jafar Sadiq, famed as the Mecca of Turkestan, though the site likely has Buddhist and even pre-Buddhist roots as a sacred space. Information is provided on Tazhong, the rough oil field town near the derricks and pipelines.

Mosque Gateway Brickwork DetailLangmen Noodle Maker, Buhalqam Restaurant, Keriya / Yutian, Xinjiang, ChinaKeriya / Yutian

Visit the mosque with its intricate brickwork in this town 180 km east of Hotan. Wandering the winding Uyghur neighborhood along the river, inhabited since Han dynasty times at the dawn of the Silk Road as the Kingdom of Jumi. Eat at a Uyghur restaurant while watching the langmen noodles pulled by hand at the next table.

View the statue of an elderly Uyghur electrician who is the only person to share a monument with Mao Zedong in all of China. For a contrast, first wander the new Keriya International On-Foot Street shopping mall and then cross the street to explore the traditional Uyghur bazaar. For the expedition minded, visit the ancient cities buried in the desert, Karadong and Dandan Oilik.

Tree-Lined Bike Lane along Street and Sidewalk, Charklik / Ruoqiang, Xinjiang, China
Charklik / Ruoqiang

Winged Being Fresco, Temple, Ancient Miran, Charklik / Ruoqiang County, Xinjiang, China, Source: 'Serindia,' SteinThe Charklik / Ruoqiang page, about this easternmost of the towns along Highway 315 along the Taklamakan, describes this small desert oasis town with its central plaza and several lodging and dining options and bus schedule. Some history of the area is included.

This page assist you to access the famous ruins of Miran or Loulan and the enormous dried lake bed of Lop Nor across Marco Polo's notorious Desert of Lop. The enormous Nature Reserves in Lop Nor and the Altun Mountains are discussed, along with the nuclear testing sites in the greater Lop Nor area.

In addition, Charklik / Ruoqiang is the back door to the roads much less traveled through Qinghai to Dunhuang, Xining, or Golmud, gateway to Lhasa. Detailed information is given on this little known route, including transport schedules and some information on the lodging and dining options.

Spinning and Dying Silk Bazaar, Hotan

Hotan

The page on Hotan describes the vast array of delights in this largest city on the southern rim. See silk made by hand in the ancient tradition from cocoon to the colorful King of Silk as well as, on the other side of town, the entire process in a modern, mechanized factory. Watch carpets tied by hand in millennium-old patterns. Observe jade being carved into fantastic shapes, and paper being made from mulberry bark and desert plants. Wander the Sunday bazaar rivaling Kashgar for the largest in Central Asia.

Visit an excellent museum in its newer, larger site that brings together the region's 5,000 years of human history on the crossroads of Indian, Central Asian, Chinese, Russian, Middle Eastern and even Greek cultures, a corridor for and center of shamanism, Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism and Islam plus an entire floor more recent cultural treasures of jade, jewelry, musical instruments and Uyghur traditional medicine.

Modern Building with Offices and Supermarket Uyghur Balcony

Beat the heat along more than 1,500 kilometers of shady grape corridors, or in one just outside your hotel door. Wander around neighborhoods with traditional Uyghur architecture. Watch nightly Uyghur traditional music and dancing and eat polo from a bottomless cauldron in a packed Uyghur restaurant and nibble your way along the stalls of an ancient night market.

Or dance the night away at a score of flashy night clubs, grab a burger or fried chicken at a Chinese chain, wander the endless aisles of three enormous supermarkets, pick your live seafood for dinner from two walls of tanks more than 2,500 kilometers from any ocean, or watch the world pass by from your table at a number of modern coffee bars or internet cafes.

 


Hotan GuesthouseSpend Y20 to Y2,000 per night on a range of accommodations. Visit aSunday bazaar that rivals Kashgar's for size, or head Melikawat Ancient Ruinsout on Thursday to a weekly tiny bazaar and festival in the desert at an ancient sacred site of pilgrimage. Visit one of several nearby ancient ruins from the fabled Silk Road.

If your travel planning requires information about the above towns before the web page might be available, you can contact the author at centralasiatraveler@gmail.com for an advance draft copy.

 

 

Links to Sites other than this Site

Silk Road Travel Information - Charchan. Web page of Silk Road Holidays, a China-based travel company, about Cherchen / Qiemo, including hotel information, specialties, food and place to visit.

'The Mummies of Xinjiang' article in DISCOVER Magazine, 1994.

The Curse Of The Red-Headed Mummy. A good article on the western discovery and evaluation of the mummies.

A meeting of civilisations: The mystery of China's celtic mummies. The Uyghur American Association (UAA) works to promote the preservation and flourishing of a rich, humanistic and diverse Uyghur culture, and to support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future.

Toghraklek and Zaghunluq article w-pictures Covering contemporary Chinese archaeology, heritage and conservation issues.

Transcript of Dolkun Kamberi's presentation 'The Mummies of Xinjiang and the Archaeology of the Tarim Basin in Western China' to the Silk Road Foundation. Presentation by Dolkun Kamberi, the scientist who originally excavated many of the Tarim mummies and is now an activist, outside China, for Uyghur rights.

Article on Arjin Shan Nature Reserve and Chang Tang Nature Reserve Article: Howling Skies, Empty Spaces - Wildlife of Tibet. Includes related information on Chang Tang Nature Reserve from International Wildlife.

Excellent, highly-detailed topographic map (3834 x 4500, 5.5 MB) including Cherchen / Qiemo and Charklik / Ruoqiang. Prepared by the US Army Corp of Engineers. Names are all in Wade-Giles instead of Pinyin. Shows the paths taken by Dutreuil de Rhins, Stein, Hedin and others. 84° to 90° longitude by 36° to 40° N latitude, 1:1,000,000 resolution. Edition 2-TPC, Series 1301, Sheet NJ-45. Date may be 1966.

Description of a road improvement project to the hills south of Cherchen / Qiemo, including a cultural and socioeconomic evaluation of the area. People’s Republic of China: Xinjiang Regional Road Improvement Project, Ethnic Minority Development Plan, July 2007 (Approved by the Asian Development Bank, 13 Dec 2007) 814kb

Michael Manning has an interesting blog, from his base in Korla, commenting frequently on a wide variety of aspects of life in Xinjiang at The Opposite End of China.

Here is a page with links to Google Earth references for hundreds of place names in Xinjiang, Google Earth KMZ : Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, giving the geographical coordinates and a satellite image of the area.

A review of Christoph Baumer's excellent book "Southern Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin". Read a present-day explorer's take on the history of the region and enjoy his many photographs and descriptions about the ancient cities in the desert. Baumer's book is a great accompaniment to any southern Silk Road journey, either before or after you go.

The Buried Silk Road Cities of Khotan by William Rust and Amy Cushing, an excellent overview of the finds at the various southern silk road cities. It puts the region in the context of greater Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

Archaeological GIS (Geographic Information System) and Oasis Geography in the Tarim Basin by Mariner Padwa, published in the The Silk Road Foundation Newsletter. In fact, take a wander around the various issues of this fine web publication.

Brief Introduction of Chiemo. Web page of Urumqi-based travel agent Mark Zhong.

 

PRINTED SOURCES

The main China guidebooks for independent travelers, like Lonely Planet - China and Rough Guide - China, barely mention the area on the southern rim of the Taklamakan east of Hotan. The guidebooks for more traditional travelers don't mention them at all. The only travel book in English known to the author to cover the towns along the southern rim of the Taklamakan to any degree, and the only one to extensively cover Xinjiang, is the excellent Silk Road: Xi'an to Kashgar, by Judy Bonavia updated several times by Christoph Baumer, (also the author of Southern Silk Road, below). The new eighth edition was published in December 2007. Odyssey Illustrated Guides, 352 pages, ISBN: 978-9622177611. This book is highly recommended for those planning a Silk Road journey in China.

The above is a much better resource, unless you are planning travel do the entire Silk Road from Antioch, Syria to Beijing, China, than The Silk Roads: A Route and Planning Guide, by Paul Wilson, (developed and expanded from Silk Route by Rail by Dominic Streatfeild-James), 2003, Trailblazer Publications, 336 pages. The book is a bit too cynical, but admirable for its breadth. It's the only book that even takes a stab at getting from Charklik / Ruoqiang to Dunhuang or Xining, though this has been getting steadily easier for the foreign traveler.

The Travels by Marco Polo is, of course, the epic journey classic, though most scholars today believe that Marco Polo probably didn't himself get farther east than Iran but rather absorbed, with his prodigious memory, the stories of Persian traders and others. Available in various editions everywhere. Marco Polo specifically mentions Charchan.

A good book on the history of the area and details on major ancient sites along the southern route is Southern Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin, Christoph Baumer, Orchid Press. ISBN: 978-9748304397, 2006, 166 pages with many color photos. (Only the hardback version seems available at Amazon, but the paperback version is available from the publisher Orchid Press.) This is not a travel book, but is a good adjunct for travelers before or after your trip.

A Grand View of Xinjiang's Cultural Relics and Historic Sites (新疆文物古迹大観 Xinjiang wen wu gu ji da guan), Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Cultural Heritage Authority (新疆维吾尔自治区文物事业管理局 Xinjiang Weiwu'er Zizhiqu  wen wu shi ye guan li ju), Xinjiang Art Photography Publishing House (新疆美术摄影出版社 Xinjiang mei shu she ying chu ban she), 1999, 439 pages, in Chinese, with Table of Contents in English. This weighty tome (1.8 kg) is available for purchase at the Hotan Museum in Hotan for Y338. The author has not found it available for purchase on the Internet at an English source. It is available through a Japanese source here. Mainly color images, probably about 1,500 (an average of 4+ per page on 360 pages) organized geographically around Xinjiang, showing sites and items found at each site, plus 50 pages of 12 archaeology / anthropology treatises at the back, only in Chinese, but with English translations of the titles and authors in the Table of Contents.

Swiss-born writer, journalist, and photographer Ella Maillart wrote Forbidden Journey (Oasis Interdites) about her 1934-5 trek across China. "Sven Hedin, the explorer, advises her to travel through the north of Tibet and the Tsaidam, as this itinerary was so difficult that the Chinese government had not thought of forbidding it." After three fiercely difficult months from Xining across what is now Qinghai, she entered Cherchen / Qiemo from the Kunlun Mountains south of town. This trip was after her trek across the closed republics of western Central Asia a few years before, about which she wrote in Turkestan Solo.

British journalist Peter Fleming accompanied Maillart on her expedition, and wrote of his experience in News from Tartary: A Journey from Peking to Kashmir, relevant to the reader here for their passage across Qinghai and along southern Xinjiang in a time that China was largely closed to outsiders. You can preview passages from this book here.

Peter Hopkirk wrote Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia in 1980 about Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, and other explorers in the late 19th and early 20th century, before China stopped the pilfering of its cultural heritage by foreigners. Neither Cherchen / Qiemo nor Zaghunluq are discussed specifically, though Sven Hedin explored Zaghunluq in the 1930s with Folke Bergman, who wrote the academic tome Archaeological Researches in Sinkiang in 1937.

You can find a chapter each on Kashgar, Dunhuang, Turpan and Urumqi in the book Central Asia: A Traveller's Companion by Kathleen Hopkirk, Peter's wife, but only the most cursory mentions of towns along the southern rim of the Tarim Basin.

Victor Mair was the driving force behind the academic research of the 1990s into the earliest peoples in Xinjiang. He edited the papers from a 1997 conference into a scholarly, 900 page, two-volume set, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age People of Eastern Central Asia in 1998. Available at Amazon for US$96.

Mair, along with J.P. Mallory, summarized that information (if you can call 352 pages a summary) into an academic volume, The Tarim Mummies in 2000.  Although the Zaghunluq finds are discussed in detail, they are, for the most part, excluded from summary analysis of multiple sites in Xinjiang. Used copies are available at Amazon.

Mair also translated a scholarly work of leading Chinese researchers, Wang Binghua, Ji Xianlin, and Ahmat Rashid, called, The Ancient Corpses of Xinjiang: The Peoples of Ancient Xinjiang & Their Culture, 1999, presenting the topic from a Chinese point of view, available at Amazon for US$245.

Ancient-textile specialist Elizabeth Wayland Barber, a member of Victor Mair's original research team to Xinjiang to examine the Xinjiang mummies and their artifacts, wrote The Mummies of Ürümchi. This is a much more readable version of the story of these ancient peoples, covering all the main fields of study with an emphasis on the textile finds. 240 pages, W.W. Norton, ISBN: 0-393-32019-7.

Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants on the Silk Road by Luce Boulnois, translated from French by Helen Loveday, 576 pages. A pleasant read -- an amazing accomplishment for a book that weaves together the millions of square kilometers and thousands of years and the hundreds of countries, cultures, languages, and religions and the vast variety of trade goods that comprised the Silk Road. Reading each chapter is like watching a different garden blossom. Published by Odyssey Books, the same folks who bring you the Silk Road: Xi'an to Kashgar guide book, listed above (and that author, Judy Bonavia, was a contributing editor to this book). None of the southern Taklamakan towns are discussed directly, but their universe is included.

Another effort at the vast time-space challenge of the Silk road is Frances Wood's The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia. Though a well-written book, it feels more like a history book, marching in chronological order, while Boulnois' book is more topical and thematic, and including more aesthetic aspects.

In Wild West China, Christian Tyler provides a very readable history of Xinjiang, focusing on the recent few hundred years. It covers geography and climate, history and culture. It also focuses on the challenges of the Uyghur people today.

Swedish explorer Sven Hedin was more a geographer rather than an archaeologist, so he is better known for mapping the area and discovering sites, leaving most of the excavation to others. Hedin was the first westerner to discover most of the main sites in southern and eastern Xinjiang, among many other places he traveled throughout Asia. His most famous work, Through Asia (1899), recounts his 1993-1997 expedition. It has no discussion of Cherchen / Qiemo. One can download a 20 MB pdf version of this entire book here. Used copies of a facsimile edition from 1995 can be bought through Amazon. A lesser-known work, In Asia, was published in 1903. His main academic work for his later expeditions was the three-volume History of the Expedition in Asia, 1927-1935. In 1925, he published a more popular account of his life and work called My Life as an Explorer that became a worldwide bestseller, which you can explore at Google Books here. You can read a thorough article on Hedin here.

Fellow Swede Folke Bergman traveled with Hedin on later expeditions and wrote Archaeological Researches in Sinkiang. You can access this entire work here. The greater part of a chapter in this volume is devoted to their discoveries in and near Cherchen / Qiemo.

Hungarian-born Briton, Sir Aurel Stein, made several expeditions in to Xinjiang and Gansu, focusing on the southern Silk Road, and was an amazingly prolific author. For each expedition, he published, in addition to numerous articles, a detailed, scholarly book and, for the first two, a popular work. For his first expedition of 1900-1901, the popular book was the Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan (1903) and the archaeological study was Ancient Khotan (1907). For his second expedition of 1906-1908, he wrote the popular Ruins of Desert Cathay (1912) and the five-volume Serindia (1921). In 1913-1916 was his last Central Asian expedition, from which he penned the four-volume academic Innermost Asia (1928). You can explore the complete two volumes of Ancient Khotan, five volumes of Serindia, and four volumes of Innermost Asia here, including all the photographs, plates, and maps. In addition to Stein's volumes, this site has more than 70 basic references on the Silk Road, primarily expedition records.

 

A NOTE ON NAMES AND SPELLING

The town is frequently known both by its local name of Cherchen and its Chinese name of Qiemo.  Both names stretch into antiquity. This author has chosen to use both names throughout the text.  Also, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, both Uyghur and Chinese are official languages and the Uyghur and Chinese place names are both official.

The oldest known name for the site, found in ancient documents dating back nearly 2000 years from sites near Hotan and at ancient Niya, was Calmadana. At least, that was the name in the Prakrit language written in Kharosthi script. But Prakrit was the administrative language of the elite, while the languages spoken by the locals were likely dialects of Tocharian and/or Saka. So the local name was somewhat different. One scholar has proposed Calmad.

Han dynasty records called the town Qiemo, likely a Chinese approximation of the local name. When the famous Chinese monk, Xuan Zang, was returning from his long journey to India in 644, he came through here and referred to the deserted city as Chê-mo-t'o-na 折摩駄那, most likely a Chinese approximation of Calmadana.

The town’s local name, Cherchen (pronounced chair'-chen, not chur-chen), is sometimes also spelled Charchan (as Marco Polo did) or Qarqan. Other roman spellings include Chärchän, Qarqen, Tjertjen, Tchertchen, Tschertschen, Tergen, or Qarqen.  According to John Brough, Cambridge professor of Sanskrit and an authority on the Buddhist kingdoms of Xinjiang, the town's name may have derived from the name of the kingdom of Shanshan which, by the third century CE, controlled the area from Loulan in the northeast as far west as Niya / Minfeng.  The capital of the kingdom of Shanshan is known to have moved from Loulan (near Lop Nor) south to Miran, then west to Charklik / Ruoqiang.  There are some indications (but no proof) that the capital may moved again to Waxxari / Waxishia (180 km west of Charklik / Ruoqiang) and possibly again to Cherchen / Qiemo before the kingdom dissolved.

The earliest record of the Cherchen name is in Tibetan records. The Tibetans dominated parts of southern Xinjiang, including Cherchen / Qiemo, off and on from the eighth to the tenth centuries CE. The Cherchen name was adopted by the Uyghurs, who began moving into Xinjiang in the second half of the first millennium CE, especially in a large migration from their base in what is now Mongolia in the 840s. Marco Polo, in 1273, recorded the name of the local town as Charchan.

The town's Chinese name, Qiemo (pronounced chee-eh'-moh), in Chinese characters is 且末.  In Pinyin with tonal marks, it is Qiěmò.  It is also sometimes spelled Ch'ieh-mo (Wade-Giles), QieMo, Chiemo, QianMo, Chümo, Jiemo, Jiemu, Jumo, Ch'e-erh-ch'eng, and Ch'ien-mo.  This name was first used by the Chinese during the Han dynasty more than two thousand years ago for the local kingdom, as noted above, likely as an adaptation of the local name.  This ancient Chinese name has been reassigned to the town during the twentieth century, and the government is working to gradually replace the Cherchen name with Qiemo. Buses with Chinese and Pinyin signs use the Qiemo name.

The town has had a number of Chinese names over time. The variety of names is likely due in part to the tendency for the town to be abandoned for periods of time, likely due to its remoteness and unrelenting sandstorms, and later to be refounded, likely due to its year-round river and agricultural potential.

"Qiemo 且末 (Qarqan):  An important station along the southern route of the Silk Road, also called Qiezhi 且志 or Moguo 末國. Modern Qiemo. After the Tang period, Qiemo had changing names like Boxian 播仙, Yuechang 約昌, Duchan 闍鄽 (Song dynasty), Chelichang 扯力昌 (Ming dynasty). The name Kaqiang 卡牆 was adopted during Qing dynasty. Qiemo was famous for grapes and fruits. Southwards to Xiaoyuan 小宛 (as counterpart of Dayuan 大宛), capital Yuling 扜零城, vanished at end of Han."  Source: http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Altera/citystates.html

Most local names in Xinjiang have been given Chinese transliterations, like Kuerle for Korla or Hetian for Hotan. Some places have been assigned quite different Chinese names, like Minfeng for Niya, 351 km west, or Ruoqiang for Charklik, 315 km east. Two local place names relevant to visitors, Zaghunluq and Toghraklek, with varied names or spellings, have these variations described above in their sections. Although the Zaghunluq Cemetery predates the Silk Road kingdom by more than a millennium, its name was taken from the modern Uyghur name of the village nearby where it was found.

CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

-- -- Street Names
丝绸 Sichou   sī chóu silk cloth. Name of street in Cherchen / Qiemo.
丝绸之路   Sichou Zhilu   sī chóu zhī lù Silk Road (the ancient trading routes)
幸福 Xingfu   xìng fú blessed / happiness / happy. Name of street.
埃榙 Aita     āitǎ Taklamakan Dust. Name of street.
  ai   āi dirt / dust / angstrom
  ta   tǎ first character of, and so an abbreviation for, Taklamakan Desert.
前进 Qianjin   qián jìn to go forward / to forge ahead / to advance / onward. Name of street.
团结 Tuanjien   tuán jié solidarity / (hold a) rally / join forces. Name of street.
迎宾 Yingbin   yíng bīn welcome visitor. Name of street.
文化 Wenhua   wén huà culture / civilization / cultural. Name of street.
西 Xi   xī West
Dong   dōng East
Nan   nán South
Bei   běi North
-- -- Nationality / Ethnicity
维吾尔族 Weiwuer Zu   wéi wú ěr zú the Uyghur (Uighur, Uygur, Uigur) nationality
维吾尔 Weiwuer   wéi wú ěr Uyghur (pronounced oo'-ee goo-er)
zu   zú nationality
-- -- Places in town
街坊 jiefang   jiē fāng neighborhood
飞机场 Feiji Chang   fēi jī chǎng airport
派出所 Paichusuo   pài chū suǒ local police (Public Security Bureau - PSB)
衢肆 qusi   qú sì shopping street
市场 shi chang   shì chǎng market
chang   chǎng a courtyard / open space / place / field / (a measure word, used for sport or recreation)
大巴扎 Dabaza   dà bā zā da = main + transliteration of bazaar
且末大巴扎   Qiemo Dabaza   dà bā zā

Main Qiemo bazaar
(Incorrect label on County Travel Bureau map; should say Qianjin pedestrian market)

车站   chezhan   chē zhàn bus station
  chang   cháng length / long / forever / always
  tu   tú way / route / road
长途车站 Changtu Chezhan   cháng tú chē zhàn long-distance bus station
网吧 Wangba   wǎng ba Internet cafe
木扻塔袼 Muzitage   mù zì tǎ gē Muztag, approximation used by hotel of Muztagh, Uyghur for Ice Mountain
宾馆 binguan   bīn guǎn guesthouse
绵羊牧区地 Mianyang Muqudi mián yáng mù qū dì sheep pastureland
 mián cotton / incessant / soft / downy
 yáng sheep
牧区  mù qū grazing land; pasture
 dì earth / ground / field / place / land
-- -- Toghraklek Manor Museum
托乎拉克 Tuohulake   tuo hu la ke Toghraklek (from sign at museum)
庄园 Zhuangyuan   zhuāng yuán Manor
  zhuang   zhuāng farm / village (Used with the name Toghraklek to indicate the manor or villa -
a large home - and the owned lands or estate around it.)
  yuan   yuán garden
博物馆 Bowuguan   bó wù guǎn museum
--- --- Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
扎滚鲁克 Zagunluke     zā gǔn lǔ kè Zaghunluq (from sign at museum, most common characters in Chinese sources)
扎洪鲁克 Zahongluke   zā hóng lǔ kè Zaghunluq (often used by Western archaeologists)
Mu   mù tomb
扎滚鲁克古墓群景点 Zagunluke Gumuqun Jingdian   zāgǔnlǔkè gǔmùqún jǐngdiǎn Zaghunluke Ancient Group Tomb Scenic Spot
The first four characters are only used to transliterate the Uyghur name.
扎滚鲁克古墓群景点 -- 'Translated' by Google as 'Roller Guard Tombs' or 'Take Roller Ruled Tomb Group.' This is because Google, unfortunately, attempts to translate the characters that are meant only to transliterate the sounds of the Uyghur name.
  za   zā to tie / to bind / tie with string or ribbon / bind with rope or cord / stop
Used to transliterate syllable
     zha   zhā to prick / to run or stick (a needle, etc.) into
This is not the correct pronunciation of the character here. However, you may find some Pinyin versions begin with "Zha-".
  gun   gǔn to boil / to roll
Used to transliterate syllable
  lu   lǔ crass / place name
Used to transliterate syllable
  ke   kè gram / subdue / to restrain / to overcome / subdue
Used to transliterate syllable
gu   gǔ ancient / old
mu   mù tomb
qun   qún crowd / flock / group (pronounced, roughly, choon)
景点 jingdian   jǐng diǎn scenery / scenic spots
--- --- Molcha River Petroglyphs (Rock Carvings)
  yán yan rock / cliff
  huà hua draw / picture / painting / mural
岩画 yánhuà  Yanhua petroglyph, rock carving, rock painting, cliff mural
莫勒且 Moleqie Molcha (River)
He river
色日克勒 sè rì kè lè  Serikule A village in Aoyiyayilake Township
--- --- Tatleksu Jade Mine (named for a nearby stream)
玉矿 Yukuang   yù kuàng  Jade Mine
  yu   yù jade
  kuang   kuàng ore / mine
塔特勒克苏 Tatelekesu   tǎtélèkèsū A more common version for the Chinese transliteration
塔特里克苏 Tatelikesu   tǎ té lǐ kè sū Less-common alternative Chinese characters
--- --- Mountains
阿尔金山 A'erjin Shan   a er jin shan
More commonly Arjin Shan
Uyghur: Altun Tagh. English: Altun or Altyn Mountains.
昆仑山 Kunlun Shan (kun lun shan) Kunlun Mountains
阿尔格山 a er ge shan, usually written Arkatag or Arka Shan Arka Tagh Mountains

Selected place names in Chinese and Pinyin in Cherchen / Qiemo County

Chinese Pinyin Uyghur, English
Xian County, district
xiāng Village
zhèn Town
且末县 Qiemo Xian Cherchen (county)
阿克提坎墩乡 Aketikandun ---
奥依亚依拉克乡 Aoyiyayilake ---
阿羌乡 Aqiang Atchan (Achchan)
阿热勒乡 Arele ---
巴格艾日克乡 Bageairike ---
库拉木勒克乡 Kulamuleke
阔什萨特玛乡 Kuoshensatema
且末镇 Qiemo Cherchen (town, county seat)
琼库勒乡 Qiongkule ---
塔提让乡 Tatirang ---
托格拉克勒克乡 Tuogelakeleke ---
英吾斯塘乡 Tingwusitang ---

 

INTRODUCTION
ORIENTATION
MAPS
INFORMATION
LODGING
EATING
SHOPPING
GETTING THERE & AWAY
GETTING AROUND
SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
LINKS
PRINTED SOURCES
NOTES ON NAMES AND SPELLING
CHINESE CHARACTERS AND NAMES
    RELATED TO CHERCHEN / QIEMO

SIGHTS IN AND NEAR TOWN
  Uyghur Bazaar
  Qianjin Market
  Uyghur Neighborhood & Rural Environs
  Kunlun Square
  Monument to Revolutionary Heroes
  Cultural Entertainment
  Toghraklek Manor Museum
  Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb
  Lalulik Ruins
SIGHTS FARTHER AFIELD
  Molcha River Petroglyphs
  Tatleksu Jade Mine Tour
  Wild Animal Sightseeing in the Mountains
  International Hunting Park
  Tazhong Oil Field Tour
  Ulugh Muztagh Peak

 

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