SILK ROUTE ACROSS THE TAKLAMAKAN DESERT
OF WESTERN CHINA
Friday 5th – Friday 26th September 2008
whose history spans 2,000 years is at heart a medieval
city, a vibrant Islamic centre and the largest oasis
city in Chinese Central Asia.
At the heart of the old city is the Id-kah Mosque
and in the surrounding bazaar, silversmiths, boot
makers, porcelain menders and bakers, labour in front of
teashops and stalls selling carpets, silk, jewellery,
hats and intricately carved knives and wooden chests.
(Hetian) is famous for its ‘white’ and ‘black’ jade,
carpets, silk and embroidery.
Mulberry and fruit trees as well as maize, wheat,
rice and cotton grow in abundance.
Here we will have the opportunity to visit
weavers and other craftsmen and participate in the
flourishing Sunday Market.
The ancient city of Yotkan flourished between the 3rd
and 8th centuries.
East of Hetian are some thirteen rivers which
once flowed more than 40 kilometres into the desert and
which soon covered the towns that had once prospered
along their shores.
(Niya) formed the
during the first century BC.
A visit to the Endere itself would take us two
days by camel or truck so we will have to satisfy
ourselves with the artefacts housed in the museum.
But the adventure now lies in crossing northwards
into the shifting sands of the Taklamakan desert (‘from
which no-one returns’).
brings us to the
KIZIL, set in a magnificent gorge and
one of the four biggest groups of grottoes in China.
The father of the city’s most famous linguist and
scholar, Kumarajiva (344-413) called the ‘Nineteenth
Patriarch of Buddhism’ came from
During the Tang Dynasty the kingdom reached its
The wealth of the trade caravans subsidized the
Buddhist monasteries, in which more than 5,000 monks
worked and prayed.
The frescoes illustrate some of the finest
examples of Gandharan (Indo-Hellenistic) influences
overlaid with Persian elements.
The Kuchean musical instruments of drums, lutes
and reed-pipes heavily influenced Chinese music.
Molana Eshdings tomb witnesses the first Islamic
missionary from the
to visit Kuqa.
(Tulufan) – Located in a depression 80 metres below sea
level with an extremely dry climate, Huozhou ‘Land
reaches 40 degrees in the summer.
In 108 BC farmers and traders of Indo-European
ancestry inhabited the area.
Until the 5th century, the capital was
During the Northern Wei Dynasty the capital of
GAOCHANG (Kharakhoja) was established
here by the Loulan people.
TUYOQ (Tuyugou) with the backdrop of the ‘Flaming Mountains’
is a beautiful, timeless village with a friendly Auger
community. The mosque is on the road cutting between the
lush vineyards up to the cemetery, behind which runs the
gorge and caves.
which honeycomb the cliff-face of the Mingsha Hills, 25
kilometres southeast of
DUNHUANG contain the world’s richest
treasure trove of Buddhist manuscripts, wall paintings
According to legend, in 366 AD the vision of a
thousand Buddhas inspired a wandering monk to cut the
first of hundreds of caves into the sand-stone cliff
Over the next ten centuries Dunhuang became a
flourishing centre of Buddhist culture along the
Visits to the caves and the Institute of Archaeology
will be a fitting end to a magnificent journey.
(including flights Urumqi
to Kashgar & Kuche to Urumqi): £2000
London / Beijing /
– Dunhuang / Beijing / London
Single Room Supplement £350
Please do not hesitate in contacting me should you have
any questions about this trip or would be interested in
joining another in the future.
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