Day 1: Turpan ( Meals: -/L/- )
Depart from your hotel to visit the Ancient Karez system. The Ancient Karez system is comprised of a series of wells and linking underground channels that uses gravity to bring ground water to the surface, usually far from the source. In Turpan city there are more than 470 systems, totaling over 1,600 kilometers of tunnels. It is considered as one of the three great projects in China with the other two being the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. The history of Karez can be traced back to the Han dynasty. Most of karezes existing today in the Turpan were built in the Qing dynasty.
Then visit the Emin Minaret. Just 2 km East of Turpan, it consists both a mosque and a minaret tower built in 1778 by the local Muslim ruler, Emin Hoja. Also known as Sugong Tower after Emin's Chinese name, the minaret was built in a simple Islamic style. It is circular, 44 meters in height, and 10 meters in diameter at the base. Unfortunately, the minaret is no longer open to the public in an effort to preserve the structure; however, you can view the surroundings from the roof of the mosque. As for the mosque, although it is rather bare inside, services are held every Friday and on holidays.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Ancient City of Gaochang. Built in the first century B.C., it used to be a garrison town and later became a key point along the ancient Silk Road. The city was burnt down around the 14th century.
The ruins originally consisted of three parts: the inner and outer cities, and a palace complex. Nine city gates were built on cardinal points, three in the south and two in each other three directions respectively. Visitors are usually suggested to enter the best preserved one in the west to the core. The best preserved structures in the ruins are two temple/monasteries in the southwest and southeast corners of the outer city section. In the southwestern temple, the front gate, courtyard, lecture hall, main hall, and monastic dormitories are relatively intact. The southeast temple has the only preserved fresco in the ruins.
Then visit the Ancient Astana Tombs. This Tang-dynasty burial ground known as the "Underground Museum" attracts stream of archaeologists both at home and abroad Astana means "capital" in Uigur and Karakhoja is the name of a legendary hero of the ancient Uigur Kingdom who expelled the evils by killing a vicious dragon. The tombs range 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from north to south and 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from east to west. The imperial dead of Gaochang and noble officials were buried here. However, curiously, the tomb of King Gaochang has been found nowhere in the tombs.
Finally visit the Then visit the Grape Valley. Lying at the base of the western end of Flaming Mountains is a world of unique with vineyards and fruit trees - Grape Valley. The Grape Valley of the Flaming Mountains, fifteen kilometers from the city center, is a world of unique beauty, presenting a striking contrast with the hot, dry and barren outside. Cushioned by green grass and graced with green trees, the valley is a world of green wit brooks, canals and sparkling springs; there is a poetic flavor to the idyllic beauty of the valley. Scattered everywhere in the valley are trees: mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pomegranate, pear, fig, walnut, elm, poplar and willow; also watermelons and muskmelons, making the valley into a "garden of one hundred flowers" in spring and an "orchard of one hundred kinds of fruits" in summer. In the valley there is a reception center where dense grapevines interweave with each other and winding paths lead to secluded places with clusters of grapes within easy reach. Then be transferred back to your hotel.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia China History Whiz Archeology/History Cultural Journey