Located in the Turpan Depression (Tǔlǔfānpéndì, 吐鲁番盆地), Xinjiang, is the Karez Water System (Kǎnrjǐng, 坎儿井), a qanat system adapted by the Turpan People.
The system was both the reason for Turpan's prosperity and its key to development as an essential stopover on the ancient Silk Road, skirting the Taklamakan Desert (Tǎkèlāmǎgānshāmò, 塔克拉玛干沙漠).
An irrigation system similar to that which originated during the Han Dynasty, this system is a series of vertically-dug wells, linked by underwater canals to collect water from the runoff from both the Tian Shan Mountains (Tiān Shān, 天山)) and the Flaming Mountains (Huǒyànshān, 火焰山). The reason for it's success is in the location; situated in the second deepest geographical depression in the world, where over 4000 square km (1500 square mi) of land are below sea level. Combining more than 1,100 karez wells and channels, the system provides a stable water source to this day, throughout the extremely hot and dry summers.
Visitors can wander under grape trellices and descend into the cooler wells themselves, which is a welcome break from the heat outside.
Make sure you take pictures as you go along, as the visiting route is single and only forward in the Karez Water System, and as such it is impossible to go backwards to take any forgotten pictures. The ideal time to visit would be between August and October.
Xinjiang guide | Turpan guide | Turpan attractions
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