Why you should visit the fascinating land of Xinjiang, China

Welcome my intrepid world travelers!

In this short article I discuss the fascinating Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang! I sing its praises, point out tourist spots and broach the problems this land faces.

Get your tourist maps out! In one…two…THREE!

kashgar
The bustling town of Kashgar on the famed Silk Road

Xinjiang is the northwestern most province of China. It is a crossroads of cultures, religions, peoples and landscapes.

The region was populated by ancient peoples such as the Bactrians and Tocharians. Soon enough however, Turkic peoples known as Uyghurs moved in. Persians and ethnic Chinese also moved through this land and intermingled with the Uyghur populace.

Cycling-Karakoram-Xinjiang
Cycling down the Karakoram Highway

Following the conquest of Genghis Khan, the region would be divided between his descendants. The Chagatai Khanate would rule this land in the 1300s. They would have an uneasy reign being at odds with the dominant Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The ensuing conflict saw the Dzungars and the Qing Dynasty vying for this country soon after. The Qing suceceded in conquering Xinjiang in 1884. Since then the local Uyghurs and the Chinese government have had an uneasy relationship.

I believe the heart of the conflict stems from Uyghur claims of independence. The Chinese government claims historical ties to the region. Indeed, Xinjiang was a Chinese province over a thousand years ago. The Chinese government has thus recognized a certain level of autonomy for the Uyghurs but maintains its stance that Xinjiang remains a part of China.

The Silk Road
When in Xinjiang…

With regards to geography, Xinjiang contains a varied landscape with the arid Taklamakan Desert cutting through it. This arid and temperate climate has marked the many journeys taken on the Silk Road for over two thousand years.

Ger
A ger (or yurt) is the traditional dwelling place of the Turkic and Mongol peoples. Idyllic scenery such as this hearken back to old days of nomads and fallen empires.

There is much beauty and culture to explore in Xinjiang. Take the radiant Heavenly Lake of Tianshan for example. The splendorous shades of blue are indicative of its heavenly name.

Whats more, go see the remarkable Kizil Caves. These awe-inspiring caves are important to Buddhist history.

Drive down the scenic Karakoram Highway complete with snow capped peaks. This is a motorist’s dream.

Also, don’t forget the majestic 1,500 year old fortress of Tashkorgan to the southwestern border of Xinjiang!

stone tower of tashkorgan
Stone Tower of Tashkorgan

Concerning demographics, Xinjiang is mostly split between its Han Chinese majority and the Uyghurs as a close second. The Uyghurs are fiercely proud of their Turkic roots and their faith, Islam.

xinjiang id kah mosque
Id Kah Mosque in Xinjiang, the largest mosque in China.

 

Nowadays much of the native Uyghurs are at odds with the national government. For many Uyghurs life has become a constant repressive struggle against their culture and religion. Uyghurs have been locked between repressive nationalist laws against them and violent Pan-Turkismfrom within. Many of these native Uyghurs believe that the Chinese government has endorsed Han migration into Xinjiang in order to dilute the Uyghurs and have systematically discriminated against them in the job and educational sectors. Nationalist Uyghurs sometimes called Pan-Turkists are calling for Xinjiang to separate itself from China and declare a new nation known as  East Turkestan.

What will become of this fascinating land of beautiful landscapes, old cultures and ethno-linguistic diversity?

east turkestan
Uyghurs call for a modern independent nation called ‘East Turkestan’ represented by a blue flag with Muslim symbols.

But, on a more positive note, this land of ancient and modern wonders is open to business and tourists. Many exciting sights, city Visit Xinjiang today and soak in this nexus of cultures today!

uyghur.jpg
Uyghur Cuisine incorporates Chinese, Persian and Halal styles
altun orda
The pristeen Altun Orda in Kashgar is worth the visit.

Thanks for reading!

Links:

Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?

Ethnic Conflict and Natural Resources-Xinjiang, China

Biking the Karakoram Highway in Xinjiang-Travel Xinjiang

Top 10 attractions in Xinjiang, China

Top 10 Places to visit in Xinjiang

Kashgar Attractions-China Highlights website

Turpan-Ancient Stop on the Silk Road

Why Visit Xinjiang?-Aussie on the Road

turpan
Turpan in the glowy sunset

 

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7 thoughts on “Why you should visit the fascinating land of Xinjiang, China

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