Silk Road Travel from China to Pakistan
Scattered along the Silk Road, there are many famous ancient cities and towns. They have not only recorded the vicissitudes of the Silk Road over the past two thousand years, but they have also borne the mission of promoting East-West cultural exchange while retaining their own distinctive cultures and art, as well as their ethnic styles and folk customs. These cities and towns serve as the best witness for the culture and history of China and Western Countries.
There are many beautiful natural landscapes and historical sites along the silk road and it's time to pick some destinations and start our journey!
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Longmen Grottoes represent the high point of Chinese stone carving and will blow your mind. It is home to more than 2,300 caves and niches that were delicately carved into the limestone cliffs of over one kilometre long.
There are around 110,000 Buddhist stone statues and more than 2,800 inscriptions carved on the stones, as well as plenty of historical materials regarding religion, art, calligraphy, architecture and more.
If you are a fan of Chinese Kung fu, Shaolin Temple might be a good choice. Located at the western foot of Songshan Mountain, 13 kilometres northwest of Dengfeng City near Zhengzhou, it was established in 495 and has been recognized as the origin of Chan Buddhism and the cradle of Kung fu.
Continue our journey, we arrive at one of the historical cities in China - Xi'an, an important point along the ancient Silk Road as well as a capital of some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, leaving behind many places of historical interest, such as the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 B.C.).
The diverse heritage in Xi'an is supreme, particularly with the highlight of Terracotta warriors and horses, a collection of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta sculptures serving as a protection for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor who unified the country). Historical records reveal that it took over 700,000 people's some 30 years to complete.
Soldier figures are varied in facial expressions, clothing, hairstyles and gestures; so are their horses, chariots and weapons. These masterpieces have provided abundant detailed evidence for the study of the history of military, culture, art, and economics of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.).
Considered as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, these delicately crafted and painted models have delighted millions of visitors both at home and abroad.
Ancient City Wall:
The natives always say the journey to Xi'an is not complete without visiting the Ancient City Wall, which has been stretched round to guard the inner city since the 13th century. Even nowadays, the massive, ancient City Wall is still strong and solid. It is the best-preserved city wall in China, and also one of the oldest intact military fortifications in the world.
Xi'an City Wall stretches almost 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) in length. The best way to see the entire wall might be cycling. Rental bikes are available around. If you are at a leisurely pace, biking the entirety takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Keep your eyes open for the spectacular gates, ramparts, and a deep moat surrounding the wall.
Arriving in Lanzhou, we're halfway through the journey. Growing up on a strategic stretch of the Yellow River, Gansu's provincial capital reflected in its mix of ethnic groups and cultures, showing the charm of the city to the world.
Lanzhou Beef Noodle:
Would you like to taste some local delicacies? Lanzhou beef noodle is one treat you cannot miss. It is usually served with clear soup and hand-pulled noodle. In halal restaurants in China, only quality local beef from the Southern Yellow Cattle prepared by the local halal butcher is used for Lanzhou beef noodle. Specially cooked Chinese spicy oil is also an indispensable part.
If you are interested in Lanzhou, read this post: Lanzhou More Just Noodles.
Set on the edge of the Silk Road, Dunhuang may seem like an unlikely place to find an oasis of Buddhist art. With towering dunes in the background, the caves here reflect the power of divine inspiration.
The Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang is considered one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. It is a complex of 492 grottoes adorned with Buddhist statuary and frescoes, created between the 4th and 14th centuries. At its zenith during the Tang Dynasty, the site housed 18 monasteries, more than 1,400 monks and nuns, and countless artists, translators, and calligraphers.
Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Spring:
Six kilometres south of Dunhuang at Singing Sands Dune, the desert meets the oasis in the most spectacular view. From the sheer scale of the dunes, it's easy to see how Dunhuang gained its name "Town of Sand". In the same area is the Shallow Spring fed Crescent Moon Lake, which forms an oasis at the desert's edge. A peculiar natural phenomenon occurs when standing on top of the dune. If it's a windless day, a sound similar to a flute can be heard, but if there are many people descending the dune at once it becomes a thunderclap.
As the provincial city of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumqi has become a new metropolis in northwest China over the last few years.
The International Bazaar:
The International Bazaar is a good place to end our journey. It covers a huge commercial complex with a local food plaza, shopping plaza, ethnic handicraft stores, exhibitions, an outdoor performance square, and mosques. It is the largest Bazaar in China and the landmark tourist attraction in Urumqi.
As one of the popular travel destinations in Xinjiang, stepping into Kashgar is like being transported into the mysterious Arabian Fairy Tales.
This far-flung city in Xinjiang is a must-see for its beautiful scenery and intoxicating culture. Miraculous, modern China peels away to reveal the arresting sights, sounds, fragrance and atmosphere of a 2,000-year-old Middle Eastern Town.
Kashgar old town:
Two-thousand-year-old Kashgar old town has been a crucial trading centre on the ancient Silk Road, enticing travellers and traders alike with its captivating bazaars, maze-like residences and vibrant street life. It still retains the exotic air and immense appeal of medieval Asia.
In the ancient enclave called the Old Town sinuous dirt paths barely two-mules wide are lined with age-old shops. Generous legs of lamb, succulent mutton strips, leather, pots of all shapes and sizes or caps for every occasion hang from rickety wooden beams - the same as it's been for centuries.
This mesmerizing Muslim city tucked away in China's westernmost frontier brims with colour and contrasts. Fridays and Saturdays may be quiet prayer days but when Sunday comes around, watch the city thrive with life. The entire community and visitors by the thousands throng Kashgar's famed Sunday Market.
Kashgar is miles away from anywhere, but the items that turn up at its markets are varied. At the weekly Animal Bazaar, fowl and various four-legged animals are scrutinized, prodded and traded. Observe the traders closely for their bargaining is an ancient art form; the sellers and buyers indicate their asking price and counter-price by scripting it into each other's palms all the while shaking each other's hand.
Id Kah Mosque
"Id Kah" means "a place of praying and celebrating in festivals." The Id Kah Mosque is the largest mosque in China, covering 16,800 square meters. The mosque was built in 1442 and is located in the central square in Kashgar.
It was once a cemetery, the Id Kah Mosque consists of a courtyard, a hall of prayer, a gate tower and other structures.
Muslims worship five times a day. There are usually 2,000 or 3,000 Muslims worshipping here, and during festivals, as many as 20,000 to 30,000.
There are some religious customs that you should pay attention to. Never stand in front of a Muslim when they worship, because they are facing the direction of the holy city of Mecca in the west.
On the Pamir Plateau of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, there is a lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains. Karakul Lake is famous for its colour-changing water and breathtaking views is a wonderland hidden in the mountains.
Karakul Lake is a glacial lake. It is located in Akto County of the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, 196 kilometres away from Kashgar. It has an altitude of 3,600 meters and is the highest lake on the plateau. From the lake, three snow-capped mountains are visible: Muztagh Ata, Kongur Tagh and Kongur Tiube. All the peaks are more than 7,000 meters in elevation.
Lake Karakul's water changes its colour depending on the weather. On a clear day, the blue sky lets the lake appear blue and azure. And a cloudy day makes the water look dark because of the reflection. Besides, different depths of the lake contribute to the different colours.
Situated in the western part of China, there is a 1032 kilometres cross border highway between Xinjiang and Kashi to Pakistan. It is rated as "one of the most beautiful and dangerous highways in the world".Karakoram Highway(KKH), also known as China Pakistan Friendship Highway, is a 1300 kilometres national highway which extends from the Punjab province of Pakistan to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit Pakistan, where it crosses into China and becomes China National Highway 314. The highway connects the Pakistan provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan with China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The highway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Passing through the Karakoram mountain, due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Karakoram Mountains are one of the most awesome mountain landscapes on the earth. it stretches thousands of kilometres and runs from northwest to Southeast with an average elevation of more than 6000 meters. Therefore, it has become the focus of world geologists, mountaineers and tourists. In addition to the Karakunlun Mountains, the highway also passes through the Hindu Kush Mountains, the Pamir Plateau and the Himalayas. Along the way stand the world's second-highest peak, Qiaogori (8611 meters) and more than 100 peaks over 7000 meters, which belong to the highly seismic region.
Karakuri means the Black Sea. It is an alpine glacial moraine lake, near the junction of Pamir, Tianshan and Kunlun mountain ranges, it is 191 kilometres away from Kashgar, Karakuri is a rare plateau lake in the world.
Khunjerab pass was a significant pass on the ancient silk road, Stretching from Kashgar in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to Pakistan's Gwadar Port, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor covers 3,000 kilometres of roads, railways and pipelines, aiming to form a comprehensive network of trade, industry and transportation.
Hunza Valley is situated in the extreme northern part of Pakistan, bordering with Afghanistan and China. In 1933, the British writer James Hilton came to the Hansa Valley in Pakistan. After learning the local customs, he wrote the world-famous 'Lost Horizon'. In his book, he Praised Hunza as "Shangri-La" and the five longevity places in the world.