Day 1: Market and Markit. This journey begins in Kashgar. If you need advice or assistance getting to Kashgar then please contact us. We take a lesser-known road to Yarkand, the one that passes through the town of Markit. This gives us an interesting route through cotton-country and over the Yarkand River. We will also be able to stop off at a local market and compare that to the grand affair in Kashgar. Meals: lunch, dinner.
Day 2: Muqam Memories. Today we visit various sites around Yarkand. We will only be able to visit some sites, such as the mosque, from the outside. We will visit the tombs of a Yarkand King and of Ammanisahan who is credited with collecting the local music known as Muqam into twelve sets producing something of a standard for what remains a mostly-improvised performance.
Behind the tombs of these grand historical figures is a graveyard for Yarkand commoners. This makes for an interesting visit as the grounds have an enchanting atmosphere. Until recently the local Islam was largely Sufic with considerable superstition attached to powerful people and places. There are many signs of this throughout the graveyard. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: Across the desert. We have another driving day: this time to Khotan via the Yengi Erik Desert. We will stop here for a look at the sands of the Taklamakan Desert to the north and visit the new reservoir which holds water for the irrigation channel which has given this area its name. We stop in Khotan which is our base for the next three nights. Khotan probably needs little introduction for those that are serious enough to travel this far.
It was once a very important city dominating the trade routes across the Himalaya to the Indian kingdoms. As a source of the much-sought-after Jade it also became of great interest to the Chinese Emperors. Wanting stronger ties, one of these sent across his daughter for marriage to the then ruler: and it was this princess that smuggled silk worms out of China for the first time. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4: In Khotan. We start by exploring the sites within Khotan. We will visit the Bazaar and the mosque and then a series of local factories. Although each of these has an attached shop you are under no obligation to buy. We will visit a workshop where Mulberry Bark is pounded into a pulp and mixed with tamarisk ashes to make high-quality paper. We will also visit a carpet factory where you can see the laborious dyeing and knotting processes which lead to some of the finest carpets in the world. Our last visit will be to a jade workshop where this fabulous mineral, so precious to the Chinese, is meticulously sculptured into sale able items. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5: Around Khotan. Having seen many of the sites within the city we cast our net a little further. Today we drive out to three sites: the Halalbagh Buddhist Temple is said to have been built by the ruler of Khotan to commemorate the Chinese princess who brought the silk worms eggs out west with her. The site was made of clay but is well preserved in the desert conditions; Kokmarim Rock Caves were supposedly discovered by Fa Xian the great Chinese explorer.
The name means "Snake Mountain" so watch your step as you gaze around at the majestic mountain peaks and river below; the Ruins of Melikawat may be either the site of a small city or of a large monastery: archaeologists are not certain. Much has been washed away by floods in the nearby White Jade River. The site is mentioned by the monk Xuanzang on his return journey from India. Your guide will transfer you to the airport tomorrow and then return to Kashgar. Tonight's dinner. will therefore be a special one. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Fly to Urumqi. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Urumqi. You will be met by another guide on arrival and taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is then free. Meals: breakfast.
Day 7: Journey's end. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
Also see tour packages in:
Asia China Local Culture Cultural Journey
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