Gilgit - BaltistanPakistan

Tashkurgan: the stone fortress

The road to Tashkurgan
The road to Tashkurgan

Compiled by Asghar Khan

Tashkurgan means ‘stone fortress’ or ‘city’ in Uyghur. The Tashkurgan Oasis is strategically located close to the Mintaka and Khunz`hrav passes across the Pamir range.

Tashkurgan is located in the Pamirs plateau, commonly known as the main road of “old Silk Road” leading to West Asia. It is 140 Kms away from the Sino-Pak border, located at an elevation of 4,000 meters, and has 8,885 squrae kilometers  of frontier line. It borders Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan on its northwest, Kagilik and Yarkent on its southwest and south, connects Aktu county of Khizilsu Prefecture on its north, west plain on its north, and Yarkent, Poskam on its west.
Ptolemy (90 – 168 AD), mentioned a Stone Citadel in this area as a strong point on the road to China. The original stone fort has disappeared but this 600 year old mud brick fortress bears witness to its military role in the 14th century when this area was held by the Djaghatai mongols.
In the West Han period, today’s Tashkurgan and its neighboring area was “Puli” state, “Yinai” state, “Xiye” of the 36 villages of the western Regions. In East Han period, it was called “Deruo”. In the Wei Dynasty it was called “Puli”. According to many historical record, it was called “pantuo” from the beginning of the 1st A.D. to North Wei and Tang Dynasty and then, the tang dynasty established “Cong ling shou zhuo ” here. In the 18th year of Guangxu emperor (1902 A.D.), the Qing government established ” ” here. After the 1911 revolution, “Puli” was changed for “Puli” county. Tashkurgan was established on September 17, 1954.
Over eighty seven percent of the region comprises of  Tajik Ismaili Muslim. DSC03903It has a great variety of natural resources, such as wild plant, mineral resources, underground heat, solar energy and wind power and wildlife, such as snow leopard, Argali, Green Sheep, Brown Bear, Eagle, Snow Chicken, Golden Eagle, Bittern, etc. The eastern mountain area is densely covered with different varieties of trees, like Larch, Phoenix tree and Birch Various precious wild herbs such as snow lotus, Dangshen, Dragonhead are also commonly found in Tashkurgan. According the estimates  there are more than 30 varities of mineral resources in 19 categories, such as gold, mineral spring water, Mica, Green Jade, Sulphur, Iron, Copper and Molybdenum.  The identified exploitable glacier water, hot springs water, the mineral spring has already been known home and abroad QeerGofor their good quality and there are large margins for further development. Water resources in Tashkurqan are abundant. Five rivers dominated by Tashkurgan River are running through the county. However, there is one water reservoir and only one hydropower station
There are culture institutions such as archives, house of culture, television station, and radio broadcasting station. Education ratio is 98% Junior high school 65% High school and at the college level 52%.

Icebergs and valleys abounded in this area, in the south stands second peak of the world the Gogar Peak, in the north is erected “the father of glaciers”-mount Muztagata.

Also located in this region are ruins of civilization dated from 5000 – 10000 years BC. 500 years old dry corpses and human bones from the era 8 to 10 century B.C. have also been found in the region.

The enchanting land is attracting quite a number of visitors, experts from home and abroad who wish to view the uniqueness of the ancient Silk Road and the beauty of the stone city.

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