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Kashi -- Oasis in the Desert
On the western border of the Taklimakan Desert in southwest Xinjiang, there is a beautiful oasis, in the center of which stands the old and ancient charming city of Kashi.

Kashi used to be the last stop within China's boundary on the Silk Road leading to the western regions and has a history of 2,100 years. It was called Shule during the Eastern Han Dynasty. At that time, General Ban Chao suppressed the rebellion of the Xiongnus (Huns) and stationed his army here. It was also from here that he sent his envoy Gan Ying to Rome and Parthis. During the Tang Dynasty, Shule was one of the four towns of the Anxi region and saw a busy flow of merchants and trade caravans traveling on the Silk Road. During the tenth century, most inhabitants of the area, including those of Kashi, who were Islamic, gradually unified their languages, customs, and life styles to become the Uygur nationality.

Kashi is marked by the strong national customs of the Uygur people, who are known to be very hospitable, good at singing and dancing, and many of the women still wear veils.

Three Immortals Cave (Sanxian Dong)

The eastern grottoes of this cave, ten kilometers north of the Kashi City, contain murals and caisson ceilings of the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220). They are the oldest grottoes found to date in China's far northwest.

Hetgah Mosque

Standing in the central square of Kashi, this is the largest Muslim mosque in China, capable of holding six thousand to seven thousand worshippers at a time. It was built first in 1798 but did not acquire its present grandeur until 1838 in the elegant and solemn style typical of more ancient Muslim architecture.

Arbaheja Mausoleum

This magnificent Muslim building in the outskirts of Kashi, said to have been built during the seventeenth century, is covered with glazed green tiles and has a vaulted top. The walls and doorways are all elaborately decorated with flower patterns. Inside the mausoleum are seventy-three tombs of five generations of the Arbaheja clan. Much of the social position of the Arbahejas came from the fact that during the Qing Dynasty, a daughter of the family was married to Emperor Qian Long and was given the title xiang fei (Fragrant Concubine). She was buried at the Eastern Tombs in Jixian County, Hebei Province, after her death. Her mausoleum is still called Xiang Fei Tomb in her memory.


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