The annual rainfall in the Turpan region of Xinjiang is significantly below its evaporation rate, and the area near the Flaming Mountains are especially well-known for its aridness. Water from the Tian Shan mountain range flows gently between the sandy dunes and barren ridges, turning the desert into an oasis which drew people in and gave birth to civilisation. In the "Traditions of the Western Regions" chronicle of the Book of Han, it is recorded that more than 30 states had already established themselves throughout the Western Regions as early as the 2nd century BC, hence the saying "the 36 states of the Western Regions". Located at the heart of Eurasia, the Western Regions were an integral part of the Silk Road. Serving as a transit point for trade and cultural exchange between the East and the West, it was an exotic place full of danger and opportunity. Traces of two of the 36 states, namely the Nearer Jushi Kingdom and the State of Gaochang, can still be found in the Turpan region today.

The Nearer Jushi Kingdom was one of the major states in the Turpan region. Its captial, now known as the Jiaohe Ruins, is the largest, oldest, as well as best-preserved adobe city in the world. In 89 BC, the state was destroyed by the Han Dynasty, which placed Wu and Ji Colonels in the Western Regions and later developed the expanses of wasteland there for agricultural use. The capital was moved to the Gaochang Wall, a part of the Protectorate of the Western Regions, to watch over trade along the Silk Road, thereby gradually shifting the political and economic centre of the Turpan region from the city of Jiaohe to Gaochang.

Having stood as junctions where the exchange of ethnic history and culture took place for more than 2,000 years, the Jiaohe Ruins and Gaochang Ruins finally became UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites in 2014. They are important locations for studying ancient China, as well as histories related to aspects such as transportation, war & religion. Buddhist temples, monastaries and pagodas occupy the most prominent positions of the cities. It is especially delightful to learn that the monastery at which the great monk of the Tang Dynasty, Xuanzang, spoke during his stay in Gaochang while on his "Jorney to the West" is still perfectly preserved to this very day.

Since ancient times, the culture of the Western Regions has emanated grandeur, excitement, fascination and charm. Upon setting foot in the old capital, can you imagine the freedom, diversity, openness, allure and grace of this historic state back in its day?
25 minutes
USD 500.00