(Distant Xinjiang – Part 5 of 6) – Part 4 of 6 here
9 August 2015
After travelling for a round trip of close to 2,000 km on the road between Urumqi and the beautiful Kanas nature reserve, the 2-hour journey from Urumqi to Turpan seemd like a rather short trip to us.
We were greeted by a very cool and drizzling morning in Urumqi but the rain did not bother us as it was a nice change and we enjoyed the cool weather. Besides, we were making our way to Turpan/Turfan or Tulufan (吐鲁番) and heading for the heat!
scenes on the way to Turpan
Turpan is historically and strategically an important town located along the Silk Road so we had practically set foot on the Silk Road!!!
We were ready for the high temperature of around 45°C which we were told in advance to be prepared for but when we stepped out of the van we realised that the temperature was only around 38°C and considered rather mild in this “land of fire”! We were actually slightly disappointed that we did not get to experience what it was like to be “roasted” in “The Oven” (Turpan is nick-named “The Oven” of China)!
Turpan is an inland depression (盆地) with low altitude of more than 4,000 km² below sea level. Apart from having the lowest altitude, it also surpasses other cities in China for having the hottest weather with long hot summer days, driest climate with very little rain throughout the year and a variety of the sweetest fruit around and of course, the first and foremost being the grapes!
Our first stop in Turpan was to see the impressive Karez system of water supply (坎兒井(坎兒井地下水利工程)) at Karez Water Museum.
The “lifeline” of Turpan’s agriculture is the ancient Karez water system, an underground water supply which takes advantage of gravity and the slopes of the landscape to collect water from mountainous melting snow and channels it through its intricate series of vertical shafts, underground and above-ground canals and small reservoirs to provide essential irrigation in the dessert and water for daily use throughout all seasons of the year and it is also an ingenious way to reduce water evaporation.
The Karez technology dated back over 2,000 years ago and originated during the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – A.D. 24). It is recognised as one of the three most intriguing and impressive ancient engineering works in China together with The Great Wall and The Grand Canal (also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal) (坎兒井地下水利工程與萬里長城和大運河/京杭大運河並稱為中國古代三大工程)!
As time moved on concrete canals and ditches were built, pipes installed, more wells dug and water resource management implemented and majority of these Karez wells have dried up. Today there are less than 300 of them left.
After being wowed by the ancient water system and coming out from the museum, we got to see what Turpan is famous for…..
After Karez we moved on to another famous touristy attraction in Turpan, the Grape Valley (葡萄溝) not far away from Karez.
sights and sounds around Grape Valley
I found the architecture around Turpan very interesting…
houses of local Uyghurs
around Karez Water Museum
on our way out…
(End of Part 5 of 6) – Part 6 of 6 here