Tashkurgan Town


Tashkurgan Town

Tashkurgan Town or Tashikuergan Town (Chinese: 塔什库尔干镇; Pinyin: Tǎshíkùěrgān Zhèn) is a town in Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, Xinjiang, China

Name

Tashkurgan is a Uyghur name that means "Stone Fortress" or "Stone Tower". The official spelling is Taxkorgan, while Tashkorgan appears occasionally in literature. It is written in Uyghur as تاشقۇرغان. In Chinese Tashkurgan is written 塔什库尔干 (Simplified Chinese Characters) and 塔什庫爾干 (Traditional Chinese Characters); it is pronounced "Tǎshíkù'ěrgān" in Pinyin.

Geography

Tashkurgan is the seat of Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County. It is situated at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,811 ft) on the borders of both Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and close to the border of Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. Tashkurgan is a market town for sheep, wool and woollen goods, particularly carpets, and is surrounded by orchards. The majority population in the town is Tajik. The majority of Tajiks in the region speak Sarikoli. There is also a village of Tajik Wakhi speakers. Chinese and Uyghur are widely spoken.

History

Tashkurgan has a long history as a stop on the Silk Road. Major caravan routes converged here leading to Kashgar in the north, Karghalik to the east, Badakhshan and Wakhan to the west, and Chitral and Hunza to the southwest in Northern Areas of Pakistan.

About 2,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty Tashkurgan was the main centre of the Kingdom of Puli (蒲犁). Later it became known as "Varshadeh". Some scholars believe that a stone tower mentioned in Ptolemy and other early accounts of travel on the Silk Road, refers to this spot. It said by them to have marked the midway point between Europe and China. Other scholars, however, disagree with this identification. Many centuries later Tashkurgan became the capital of Sarikol (色勒库尔), a kingdom of the Pamir Mountains, and later of Qiepantuo (朅盘陀) under the Persians. At the northeast corner of the town is a huge fortress known as the Princess Castle dating from the Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367 CE), and the subject of many colourful local legends. A ruined Zoroastrian temple is located near the fortress.

In Tashkurgan there is a museum that houses local artifacts.

Karakoram Highway

Today Tashkurgan is on the Karakoram Highway which follows the old Silk Road route from China to Pakistan. Accommodation is available and it is recommended overnight stop for road travellers from China to Pakistan in order to have the best chance of crossing the snow-prone Khunjerab Pass in daylight. Special registration with the police must be made before entering the Tashkurgan, and Chinese citizens must receive written permission from their local police department before entering the region.

Travelling from China, it is about 230 km south of Kashgar and is the last town before the border with Pakistan, and 120 km over the Khunjerab Pass from Sust in Pakistan, which is the border crossing town. Passenger road service between the Tashkurgan and the Pakistani cities of Sost and Gilgit already exists, and road service between Kashi and Gilgit (via Tashkurgan and Sust) starts in summer 2006. However, the border crossing between China and Pakistan at Khunjerab Pass (the highest border of the world) is open only between May 1 and October 15 of every year. During winter, the roads are blocked by snow.

ee also

*Karakoram Highway
*Karakoram
*Xinjiang
*Northern Areas

References

* Curzon, George Nathaniel. 1896. "The Pamirs and the Source of the Oxus". Royal Geographical Society, London. Reprint: Elibron Classics Series, Adamant Media Corporation. 2005. ISBN 1-4021-5983-8 (pbk); ISBN 1-4021-3090-2 (hbk).

* 库尔班, 西仁, 马达 力包仑, and 米尔扎 杜斯买买提. 中国塔吉克史料汇编. Urumuqi: 新疆大学出版社, 2003. ISBN 7-5631-1792-X.

External links

* [http://www.ericellis.com/silkroad.htm documentary on the Silk Road]
* [http://www.cloudband.com/frames.mhtml/magazine/articles3q01/travel_silk_road_6_0301.html another travel account]
* [http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/hhshu/hou_han_shu.html#sec20] Check out note 20.2. to the translation of the "Hou Hanshu" by John Hill. http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/hhshu/hou_han_shu.html
* [http://www.silkroadcn.com/kashgar/Taxkorgan.htm] For a brief description and some photos.
* [http://www.piac.com.pk/piaspakistan/piaspakistan-northernareas2.asp PIA Northern Areas Page]
* [http://www.chinatour.com/ www.chinatour.com]


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