Friday, June 19, 2009

Tian Shan (天山)

Tian Shan (天山) (sometimes spelt Tien Shan), or Heavenly Mountains, is a range of mountains that cover a large part of Xinjiang China. It extends all the way to the borders of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and feature quite abit in Xinjiang tourism. And for good reasons!

With its snow-capped peaks, massive glaciers and rugged beauty, it is no wonder that adventurers, travellers, backpackers love to visit it. It has been the focus of Chinese authors and filmmakers too, who decided that the name and landscape lends itself to glorifying wuxia tales. From valiant swordsmen training in the mountains, to rare herbs hidden in the peaks, the area does provide a stimulus to such imagination.

There is also a Tian Chi (天池), or Heavenly Lake, which lies near Bogda peak, one of the peaks of the TianShan range near Urumqi. Being near the city, it has been marketed by the Chinese tourism authorities, and is now quite touristy. While certainly pretty, the tourist crowds can get quite large, and so, if you do decide to take a look at Tian Chi, I suggest looking beyond the day tours offered by the many agencies in Urumqi city. This holds true for other day tours to the Tian Shan as well, eg. the visits to "No. 1" glacier etc. Arrange for a couple of days of trekking in the Tian Shan region would be perfect. Nevertheless, be it a day or multi-days, these TianShan ranges are sure worth a visit!

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