Kashgar - The World's Largest Sunday Market

Kashgar is the place no one traveling the Silk Road today should miss because of Kashgar's Central Asian ambience, architecture, and extraordinary Sunday market.

Situated at the foot of the Pamir Mountains, Kashgar is the west most city in China, standing at the point where traffic along the great trade routes crossed over the high passes into what is today's Pakistan and beyond. Heading east, traders swapped horses and yaks for camels to cross the vast deserts of China. Heading west, they readied their pack animals to cross the high mountain passes into central Asia.

The entire town is so thoroughly Islamic that Kashgar is the only place in China where women wear veils, voluntarily. Kashhgar is most famous for its Sunday market, said to be the largest in the world.
Kashgar City Ratings
** The following ratings are based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.
History(7)     Art(5)   Local Culture/Unique Tour(6)
Nature/Scenic(8)      Food/Shopping(6)   Night Life(4)
Religion(6)      Adventure/Sports(6)  Reasonable Cost(8)
Recommended Days of Stay: 1

Quick Facts
Population - 300,000
When to go
Tourist Season - Early may to early September;
Coldest Months - January and February with temperature as low as -24C;
Hottest Months - July and August, with temperature as high as 40C;
Annual Precipitation - 100 millimeters
Getting In and Out
By Air - Kashgar is 1.5 hours by air from Urumqi;
By Train - A railway is expected to be completed soon;
By Bus - It takes 36 hours to go by long distance bus from Urumqi to Kashgar. You can also go from Lhasa. However, the road is harder.


Kashgar has a long history stretching back over 2,000 years. For much of Han and Tang dynasties Kashgar was under Chinese control, but the indigenous people of the region are believed to be Indo-European in origin, now mixed with Mongol and Turkish blood.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Kashgar was a listing post in the intrigues and intelligence-gathering activities of Britain and Russia. The struggle between these two countries for control of Central Asia was later referred to as the "Great Game". The central character in this extraordinary story is the British consul George MaCartney. His wife, Catherine MaCartney, wrote a book, An English Lady in Chinese Turkestan. It offered great insights into the "Great Game".

In May 1986, Kashgar once again became an important city for foreign travelers between China and South Asia when the Karakoram Highway was opened.

Food/ Shopping
Sunday Morning Market
The Uighurs call it the Yekshenba Bazaar (Sunday Bazaar). The market has met in Kashgar for 1,500 years, selling the same types of goods and in the same negotiation manners. It seems that the modern world east of the desert or west of the mountain snows has no effect on this piece of land. People here will probably live like this for another 2,000 years. Any thing you want to be able to live in this part of the world can be found here. On an average day, the crowd here can be as large as 150,000 people. It is said to be the largest Sunday Market in the world.

Kashgar is worth the trip if only to see this gigantic and traditional Sunday Morning Market.

San Xian (three immortals) Caves
The caves are located high in the side of a cliff approximately 16 km from the city. The frescoes in these caves are not in good condition.

Abakhojia Tomb
This tomb is the resting place of 70 descendents of Muhatun Ajam, an Islamic missionary.

There are three parts to this tomb, a Tomb Hall, a Teaching Hall and a Prayer Hall. The Tomb Hall resembles a small Taj Mahal.

It is said that Abakh Hoja's granddaughter, the famous Xiang Fei (the Fragrant Concubine) was also buried here. She was captured by the Qing army in the mid-18th century and transported all the way to the Forbidden City to Qian Long. Qian Long was so eager to gain her affections that he built a Turkish bather and a Tower turned to the direction of Kashgar for her.

Idkah Mosque
The Idkah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, is located in the center of the city. It could hold up to 7,000 people. There is a giant pomegranate, symbol of the city (and fertility). Behind the mosque are streets with old buildings, wrought-iron balconies, and alleyways with mud townhouses more typical of North Africa than China.

Behind the Mosque, there are many narrow jewelry shops. Gold is the metal of choice in Kashgar. Many jewelers are children nowadays.
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