10 km west of Turpan there is a river that splits into two for about 2 kilometers. The river over the years has carved out a huge plateau that has steep cliff edges separating the land from the water below by 50 meters. This little, naturally protected piece of land used to be home for almost 7,000 people almost 4,000 years ago.
Jiaohe became a very prominent city during the the beginning of the silk road trade. It was home to government officials and was the capital city of the region up until 450 AD. Being built 50 meters above the surrounding area, the city had a natural barrier defending its people and its homes made of mud. The city had a gate to the south and to the east that was heavily guarded with watches on either side to spot incoming threats. To the south housed most of the larger governmental buildings and to the north there are remains of a few Buddhist stupas and ancient temples. In the middle of this 300 meter wide plateau is where the bulk of the population resided in this very picturesque, elevated city nestled between the mountains and the desert.
Sadly, in the 13th century, the town was pillaged by the savage mongols who typically left no sing of life as they tore through the enemy towns. Today however, it has become a beautiful maze of the remains of the mud walls that once held this great little city. Entering through the south gate, you slowly make your way up the plateau and start to feel the strong, warm air trying to blow you right back off the plateau. The breeze is very welcome after spending all day in the hot, arid desert making the air many degrees cooler. The beginning of the path is slow as you meander through the few remains of the vast government buildings, but just a few hundred meters in, you will hit the observation floor that looks out over what remains of this historic village. You will see dome shaped windows and corners where walls used to meet. Doorways leading to storehouse caves and tight alleyways that weaved between the homes. Making your way through the maze of ruins offers plenty of options as you steadily head north to the temple region. Some paths take you through deep galleys and one to the west will take you right up to the cliffs edge. As you walk through this quiet, desolate town, you can only imagine what it used to be like thousands of years ago when the streets where alive with music, and markets, and animals. What a beautiful spot they had chosen to settle, and what stories are left behind in these mud walls.
The taxi to get to the ruins is 100 RMB and the entrance to the park is 70 RMB.