Kashgar is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Kashgar is a giant oasis and key city on the Silk Road. located between 73 20' - 70 57' east longitude and 35 20' - 40 18' north latitude. Kashgar has a history of more than 2000 years; belonged to the Zhuangpu prefectural General's Office of the HunIn in Han dynasty; there after, submitted to the authorities of the Western Han dynasty after the trading links with Han formed by Zhang Qian - the special envoy to the Western Region sent by Emperor Wudi; one of the four important towns in Anxi during Tang dyansty; later becoming the seat of government of the Kashgar Councillor in Qing dynasty. The lush green open valley of Kashgar with tall poplars is famous for cultivation of fruits, vegetables, grains, cotton and livestock, and rich in strong national characteristics of the Uygur people.
Kashgar is the place no one traveling the Silk Road today should miss because of Kashgar's Central Asian ambience, architecture, and extraordinary Sunday market.
Situated at the foot of the Pamir Mountains, Kashgar is the west most city in China, standing at the point where traffic along the great trade routes crossed over the high passes into what is today's Pakistan and beyond. Heading east, traders swapped horses and yaks for camels to cross the vast deserts of China. Heading west, they readied their pack animals to cross the high mountain passes into central Asia.
The entire town is so thoroughly islamic that Kashgar is the only place in China where women wear veils, voluntarily. Kashhgar is most famous for its Sunday market, said to be the largest in the world.
History: The earliest mention of Kashgar is when the Chinese Han Dynasty envoy traveled the Northern Silk Road to explore lands to the west.
Another early mention of Kashgar is during the Former Han (also known as the Western Han Dynasty), when the Chinese conquered the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu), Yutien (Khotan), Sulei (Kashgar), and a group of states in the Tarim basin almost up to the foot of the Tian Shan mountains. This happened in 76 BC.
Kashgar does not appear to have been known in the West at this time, but Ptolemy speaks of Scythia beyond the Imaus, which is in a Kasia Regio, possibly exhibiting the name whence Kashgar and Kashgaria (often applied to the district) are formed. The country's people practised Zoroastrianism and Buddhism before the coming of Islam.
In the Hanshu (Book of the Former Han), which covers the period between 125 BC and 23 AD, it is recorded that there were 1,510 households, 18,647 people and 2,000 persons able to bear arms. By the time covered by the Hou Hanshu (roughly 25 to 170), it had grown to 21,000 households and had 30,000 men able to bear arms.
The Hou Hanshu (Book of the Later Han), provides a wealth of detail on developments in the region:
"During the time of Emperor Ai 6 BC-1 AD and Emperor Ping 1-5, the principalities of the Western Regions split up and formed fifty-five kingdoms. Wang Mang, after he usurped the Throne in 9, demoted and changed their kings and marquesses. Following this, the Western Regions became resentful, and rebelled. They, therefore, broke off all relations with the Middle Kingdom and, all together, submitted to the Xiongnu again.
The Xiongnu collected oppressively heavy taxes. The kingdoms were not able to support their demands. In the middle of the Jianwu period 25-55, they each sent envoys to ask if they could submit to the Middle Kingdom, and to express their desire for a Protector General. Emperor Guangwu 25-57, decided that because the Empire was not yet settled, he had no time for outside affairs, and finally refused his consent.
In the meantime, the Xiongnu became weaker. The king of Suoju (Yarkand), named Xian, wiped out several kingdoms. After Xian’s death, they began to attack and fight each other. Xiao Yuan, Jingjue (Niya), Ronglu (south of Niya), and Qiemo (Charchan) were annexed by Shanshan (the region of Lop Nor, with the capital near modern Ruoqiang or Kharghalik). Qule (south of Keriya) and Pishan (modern Pishan or Guma) were conquered by Yutian (Khotan), which completely occupied them. Yuli, Danhuan, Guhu, and Wutanzili (along the route north of the Tianshan mountains) were wiped out by Jushi (Turfan/Jimasa). Later these kingdoms were re-established.
During the Yongping period 58-75, the Northern Scoundrels forced several countries to help them plunder the commanderies and districts of Hexi. The gates of the towns stayed shut in broad daylight."
And, more particularly in reference to Kashgar itself, including the only historical reference to Kushan involvement in the oasis, is the following record:
"In the sixteenth Yongping year of Emperor Ming 73, Jian, the king of Qiuci (Kucha), attacked and killed Cheng, the king of Shule (Kashgar). Then he appointed the Qiuci (Kucha) Marquis of the Left, Douti, King of Shule (Kashgar).
In winter 73, the Han sent the Major Ban Chao who captured and bound Douti. He appointed Zhong, the son of the elder brother of Cheng, to be king of Shule (Kashgar). Zhong later rebelled. (Ban) Chao attacked and beheaded him."
Kashgar Food: Central Asian flavor. A wide variety of Muslim food as well as taste from other regions can be tasted here. The main food here includes flour, corn, and rice. The followings are some typical food found in Kashgar.
• Roasted Meat
Roasted meat is the most popular and commonly seen food in Kashgar. Street stalls cluster everywhere around the city, selling a wide variety of roasted meat. Kababs are very easily tried here.
• Rice Taken by Hands
Rice Taken by Hands is a popular food at festivals. The main materials are fresh mutton, carrots, onions, vegetables, rice and raisins. Raisins are boiled with sliced onions, carrots and small cubes of fried beef. Then they are put on soaked rice and boiled again. The ingredients are streamed for twenty minutes, afterward served. Before eating, one washes one's hands three times and dries them with handkerchiefs. Sitting cross-legged on cushions, people serve the rice on plates and eat it with their hands.
There are more than 10 kinds of this rice dish, mainly mutton, chicken and vegetarian, and the most common is the one using mutton.
Yogurt is a kind of sour dairy products, which very popular among the locals. Muslim people enjoy drinking it all over the year. Yogurt is a nutritious food containing a great variety of mineral substances, vitamin.
Weather: Kashgar is located at the continental climate region, with relatively longer summer time and shorter winter. The coldest season is January having an average temperature of minus 6 degree centigrade and the average temperature for the hottest July is about 27 degree centigrade. The period from April to October is a pleasant time to visit Kashgar while the most comfortable weather condition and ripe fruits in that region make August and September the best two seasons to visit. Moreover two of the most popular local festivals ( Corban Festivals and Lesser Bairam) take place during this period when visitors can enjoy many colorful celebration activities.
Id Kah Mosque: 'Id Kah' means 'a place of praying and celebrating in festivals'. The Id Kah Mosque is located on the central square in Kashgar City, Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region. As the biggest mosque in China, it is a group of old Islamic constructions with strong ethnic style and religious features.
It is said that this place was once a cemetery. The present Id Kah Mosque was built in 1442 as a very small structure. Several renovations and enlargements have created it with today's scale and style.The whole complex occupies 16,800 square meters (about 4 acres) and consists of the courtyard, the Hall of Prayer, and the gate tower and as well as some other attached structures.
Sunday Bazaar: Every Sunday a market is held on the northeast edge of the town. Local products of every conceivable kind are on sale here: carpets, hats, jewelry, Uigur knives and even donkeys and horses. With an average of 150,000 visitors it is thought to be the largest open-air market in the world.
In the old districts of Kashgar, many streets have "bazaar" as part of their names. Although most of the bazaars have ceased to exist except in name, there are still some that are still in use. From the names of these streets people can imagine the past glory of this ancient trading city on the Old Silk Road. Today's Kashgar has preserved the old traditions. On the streets one can find markets selling various commodities, such as vegetables, fruits, food, garments, tools and handicrafts.
Grottoes of the Three Immortals: The Grottoes of the Three Immortals (Sanxian Dong) date from the Eastern Han period (25-220) and lie 10km/6mi to the north of the town, on the slopes of a steep hill. Each one of the three long interlinking caves is divided into a front and rear section. A badly damaged Buddha statue is kept in the rear section of the middle cave. On the walls of the left-hand cave there are some 70 likenesses of Buddha, dating back 1700 years. One of the Buddhas on the rear wall is depicted with a bare back - an unusual phenomenon in the wall paintings of that period.
Abakh Khoja Tomb: Abakh Khoia Tomb is at the northeast suburbs of Kashgar at Hanhao Villages, around 5 kilometers away form the city. The environment in that area is tranquil and beautiful with lush green vegetation, dense forest. The grand tomb is heavily sheltered by the ancient poplar trees which grow around the mausoleum.
The tomb served as the family tomb of Abakh Khoja, the powerful ruler of Kashgar in the 17th century who was revered as a prophet and second only to Mohammed. It was first built in 1640 and contained 72 members belonging 5 generations of the family. Emperor Qianlong's favored concubine-Xianggei(fragrant Concubine) was also said to be buried here. The tomb is otherwise called Xiangfei Tomb.
Kashgar Airport is located about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) north of city of Kashgar. Built in 1953, Kashgar Airport is the second largest airport in Xinjiang Province. With more than 60,000 square meters (about 14.8 acres) available for ground handling of aircrafts along with an area of 28,000 meters (about 6.9 acres) devoted to runway traffic, Kashgar Airport is quite capable of accommodating incoming and outgoing flights to destinations including but not limited to Urumqi, Hotan, Kuqa and Aksu. Kashgar Airport also has international flights available to cities such as that of Kirghizia and Uzbekistan. In Kashgar Airport large and spacious main terminal building restaurants, stores, and several airline ticket offices are available for the comfort and convenience of travelers.
There are regular bus services between Kashgar Airport and the city center. With a fare of just CNY10 per pax, the bus is able to drop passengers at any hotel in the city. The bus driver is also able to recommend its passengers hotel according to their needs. Bus No.2 plies the route from the airport to downtown district of Kashgar. If taxi is preferred, going to the city center costs only CNY10.
Kashgar is one of the most important cities on the Silk Road. It is also a transportation hub in western China. Kashgar Railway Station, being the last station in southern Xinjiang, is only about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away from the city center and takes about 15 minutes' drive. There are daily trains running between Kashgar and Urumqi.
There are 30 bus routes in Kashgar City that goes to almost every corner of the city. Taking the public bus is the most convenient mode of transportation. Passengers can get a rough view of the city along the way. The fare is only CNY1 per person. Bus No.2 runs between the city center --- People's Square and Kashgar Airport. Bus No.20, which starts from Xi Yu Square, is idle for visitors for they can go to the city center --- People's Square --- to visit the Id Kah Mosque, then to East Gate to shop at the Grand Bazaar and the terminal stop is Abakh Khoja Tomb. Apart from that, Bus No.26 and No.28 take you to the railway station from the city center.