Backgrounds o/t Tarim River Basin and Taklamakan Desert :
This page was last updated on: May 25, 2017
This Satellite Image Map gives a Good Overview of the Tarim River Flow Area and the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region (and Gansu province) of North & Western China.
Scroll Up & Down, left and right to view the Entire Tarim River Flow, the Sands of the Taklamakan Desert and surrounding Mountain Ranges, which contribute for a large part to the local Climate and Dry Desert conditions. The Taklamakan Desert measures 2400 Kilometers (1500 Miles) from West to East, and 400 kilometers (250 miles) from North to South.

In Counter-clockwise direction The Taklamakan Desert and Tarim River Basin are bordered in the North by the Mighty Tian Shan Mountain Range on the other side of which lie Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Upwind in the West lie the Pamir High Mountains and Mountain Plateaux, and the high
The China Report
Introduction to Satellite Map o/t Tarim River Basin and Taklamakan Desert -1A
Ala Shankou (=Pass) - Border China-Kazachstan
Kashgar River
Former Marshes
(Dry) River
<- Khotan
XinJiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Qinghai Province at
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on the West End of the Great Wall of China at Jia Yu Guan Pass, Jiayuguan, China
Tower on the West End of the Great Wall of China at Jia Yu Guan Pass, Jiayuguan Fortress, West China Photographic Print
Su, Keren
Karakoram Mt. Range
Taklamakan Desert
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Karashar, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Urumqi, Capital of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
The Taklamakan Desert is enclosed by Mountain Ranges in 3 directions, limiting its Sand Flows to the Tarim River Basin and Area's West and Down-wind in Gansu Province.
The Tarim River source is found in the Pamir Mountains in the extreme West of the Basin and this Image as the Kashgar River. It then flows past Kashgar, to turn North and East and flow along the North Rim of the Basin underneath the Tian Shan Mountains. Here the Aksu River joins up from the North, creating the 5Th largest river in China. The River Tarim follows the northern rim to end up in the North-East Corner of Lop Nur, where the Lost City Ruins of Loulan (Shanshan) are located.
Today Lop Nur is a dried empty Salt Bed of the former Lake. Earlier in history, in the 200 BC to 1000 AD Era Lop Nur was a large lake with adjoining marsh area's rich in fish and game. It hosted a rich and powerful Kingdom located strategically on the Chinese Section of the Silk Road. Loulan lasted, as a Chinese Protectorate through
Gansu ->
Gobi -> Desert
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Tibet AR
Tibet Autonomous Region
XinJiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Kashgar, Capital of Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Yarkent, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Cherchen Town, Xinjiang Uygur
Pamir Mts + Plateaux
(K)Hotan or Hetian, Capital of Khotan Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
River ->
Aksu, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Tarim River
Gilgut, Pakistan
Keria Village, Khotan Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur
Mustagh Pass X
X Karakoram Pass
Altyn Tagh Mt. Range
River ->
Kurla, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Turpan, Capital of Turpan Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Barkul, Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County, Hami Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Issik kul
Tian Shan Mountain Range
Altai Mt. Range
Issik-G'Ul, Kyrgyzstan
Prokrovka, Kyrgyzstan
Bystrovka, Kyrgyzstan
Przhevalsk, Kyrgyzstan
Tumushuke, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Tarim River
Tarim River
Tibet-Qinghai Plateux
Bishkek, Capital of Kyrgyzstan
Lake Balkasj
Tian Shan Mt Range
mountain gateway into wild Afghanistan. In the South-West the River Basin and Desert are bordered by the Karakoram Range, an extension of the Himalayas and among the highest mountains in the world. On the other side lies Mountainous North Pakistan.
Along the South the Altyn Tagh Mountain Range provide a natural border with Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Last, in the East lie the remnants of famous Lop Nur, now dry and Salted. Lop Nur was the ending point of the Tarim River. Beyond further East lie barren lands, Sand Dunes, the Yadan Landforms at the
Click to go to Map 1
Map 1 of the Silk Road during the early Tang Dynasty Era. Clearly depicts the North & South Routes West of Dunhuang as well as the lost civilizations of Loulan and Hotan.
the powerul and expansive Tang Dynasty to beyond 1000 AD, after which climate conditions deteriorated. The flow of the Tarim River was changed many times in history, due to the shifting Sands of the Taklamakan Desert. As a result somewhere after 1000 AD Lop Nur slowly dried up and the Loulan Civilization, the Large Lakes, extensive swamps and wildlife were lost to Time (until 1899/1900 AD). Upstream Oasis Cities along the South Tarim River Basin rim suffered similar fates between 1000 AD and Today, although some Villagers and Remnants of Villages remain until this very day.

Today's Taklamakan Desert is even dryer than in the Past. During the heydays of the Han and Tang Dynasties, roughly between 200 BC and 1000 AD the Tarim River Basin supported not only Lop Nur but a string of Rivers along its Northern Rim, as well as its Southern Rim. Hence, the Tarim River Basin became the main route of the Silk Road in China. The Chinese
Silk Road in the Tarim Basin splits in the East at Dunhuang in Gansu province. Here a North Route leads from YuMen Pass, the location of the first Toll House on the (Tang Dynasty) Great Wall of China along the North Rim and the Tarim River westward to Turpan and then on to Kashgar. Similarly, a South Route leaves Dunhuang to Pass through Yan Guan Pass and follow the Southern Rim of the Tarim River Basin through Keriya, Khotan and Yarkent to connect back up with the North Route at Kashgar in the West.
The List of Highlights of the Tarim River Basin and Taklamakan Desert is Impressive but marks a Long Road of hardship. Even today travels to many sections of the Tarim River Basin are a challenge and require good preparation, off-road vehicles and possibly even Camels.
1) The Source of the Kashgar River in the Pamir Mountains and the Border Area of Tajikistan.
2) Passage of the Kashgar River through Kashgar and the Old City Market and Monuments of Kashgar.
3) The City of (K)Hotan, ancient Civilization.
4) The Town of Niya (Minfeng) and nearby Niya archeological site.
5) The City of Keriya, ancient Oasis on the southern Silk Road Route.
6) Ruins of Miran (also Milan), due East of Ruoqiang Town in the Lop Nor Basin.
6) Turpan, Oasis City along the northern route and the Tarim River.
7) Lost City of Loulan (Shanshan; also Ku Loulan) near Lop Nur.
8) Former flowbed of the Tarim River and the deep Salt Lake of Lop Nur.
9) The Shifting Sand Dunes of the Taklamakan, at Times reaching well over a 100 meters in heigth.
Highlights o/t Tarim River Basin and Taklamakan Desert :
Former Lop Nor - Lowest Point
Former Marshes
China Report - Xinjiang Maps - Former Lop Nur & Outflow Tarim River
A Satellite Image based Map of the Northern Lop Nor Basin (Former Lake) and the outflow of its feeding River the Tarim He (via the Kunqi River) into the Northern Basin at Lop Nur in XinJiang-Uygur Autonomous Region,
Satellite Image of Former Lop Nur North Basin and Feeding River
Kunlun Mt. Range
Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture
(Xinjiang AR)
Gansu Province Border, and then the first Gate in the West on the Han Dynasty and later Tang Dynasty Great Wall of China (Yumen Pass) and the Oasis Village of Dunhuang in Western-most Gansu Province.
Bosten Kul
Bayinghol (Shihezi), Capital of Bayingholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Sayram kul
Wenquan Village
Korgas Pass - Border China-Kazachstan
Korgas Village
Zharkent (Kazakhstan)
Irkeshtam Pass - Border China-Kyrgyzstan
Torugart Pass - Border China-Kyrgyzstan
Manas Lake
Niya Village, Khotan Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur
(Xinjiang AR)
Hami Prefecture
(Xinjiang AR)
Hami, Capital of Hami Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Artux (Artush), Capital of Kizilsu Khirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
(Ku) Loulan (Shanshan) - Lost City Ruins
Ruoqiang (Charklik), Bayingholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang A.R.
(Xinjiang AR)
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This page was last updated on: May 25, 2017
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