A thousand years ago, the northern and southern branches of the Silk Road converged at this oasis town near the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert. Traders from Delhi and Samarkand, wearied by frigid treks through the world’s most daunting mountain ranges, unloaded their pack horses here and sold saffron and lutes along the city’s cramped streets. Chinese traders, their camels laden with silk and porcelain, did the same.
Today the city still retained some of its old ways. However, this city is transforming rapidly into a modern metropolis. We went on this ancient Silk Road in 2010 and 2011 and have already seen the rapid changes taking place. Here are some of the scenes around the Id Kar Mosque, reputed to be the largest mosque in China. It can house 10,000 worshippers and was built by Saqsiz Mirza in ca. 1442.