This article appeared earlier on this blog and was written by Bradley Mayhew, author of Lonely Planet guidebooks to Central Asia, Nepal, Himalaya trekking, Tibet, Bhutan, China, Mongolia and others, as well as the Odyssey guidebook to Uzbekistan. He also starred in the recent Marco Polo Reloaded films, retracing the steps of the Venetian explorer.
Five weeks in Xinjiang brought me back to several of the locations I visited in the Marco Polo Reloaded films (Kashgar and Hotan) and allowed me to trace the Taklamakan Desert along the southern Silk Road, from Hotan on to Charklik.
One of the highlights for me was tracking down the region’s great history. Archaeology nuts will like the following faded remnants of Xinjiang’s once-thriving Buddhist heritage:
Buddhist stupa surrounded by stupa bases, Yarkhoto (Jiaohe), outside Turpan
Mor pagoda, in the desert outside Kashgar
two-thousand-year-old Han dynasty watchtower, outside Kuqa
Subashi Buddhist ruins, outside Kuqa
I was also excited to finally make it out to the impressive Shipton’s Arch, an hour or so outside Kashgar, off the road to the Irkeshtam Pass.
When in Kashgar, fans of Peter Hopkirk’s book ‘The Great Game‘ should visit the former British Consulate at the back of the Chini Bagh Hotel’s north building. It’s currently a Chinese restaurant and you can wander through through the rooms that were once home to the Macartneys, Shiptons and others:
One side effect from authoring the Odyssey Guide to Uzbekistan is that I can’t pass up obscure Timurid tombs. This one near the Xinjiang-Kazakhstan border is a cracker:
Tomb of Teglug Timur (1347-1364), ancient city of Almalik, Huocheng, near Qingshuihe.