Takla Makan Desert

Takla Makan Desert, Xinjiang
Takla Makan Desert, Xinjiang
  Takla Makan Desert Pictures
Takla Makan Desert is China's largest desert, situated in the middle of the largest Basin, Tarim in Xinjiang Province. This is reputed to be the world's second largest shifting-sand desert covering an area of over 33, 700 square kilometers (over 13,000 square miles).

In Uigur language, Takla Makan means 'you can get into it but can never get out' and the desert has another name 'the Sea of Death'. The desert is regarded as being very powerful among the people; no wonder the name connotes fear. But there was an interesting legend about its origin. It was said that there was a Supernatural Being, who saw the hardship being faced by the people in this area and thought that he could help them by using the two magic objects in his possession namely the golden axe and the golden key. He gave his golden axe to the Kazakh, so they split the mountain Altai and diverted water from the mountains to the fields. The Supernatural Being planned to give the golden key to the Uigur so that they could open the door of the treasure-house of the Tarim Basin, but unfortunately his youngest daughter lost the key. This angered him so much that he held her a captive in the Tarim Basin and thus the Takla Makan Desert was formed.

Continuous sand dunes in this large Takla Makan Desert are usually over 100 meters high (over 109 yards) and some are even higher than 300 meters (about 328 yards). Because of the wind, the sand dunes are always moving forward and statistics suggests that each year they move about 150 meters (about 164 yards), which seriously threatens the existence of oasis and the survival of the local populace. For the past 50 years, the Chinese Government has made great effort to plant trees to reduce the encroachments of the sandstorms. With the help of experts, local people planted diversiform-leaved poplars, rose-willows, pomegranate trees, mulberries and built windbreak belts as corrective measures and in some places, people even cultivate corn. There is an improvement in the living condition of the local people, thanks to the increase in vegetation. Now there are over 80 species of birds' resident in the interior desert and the precipitation is increasing as well.
Takla Makan Desert, Xinjiang Takla Makan Desert, Xinjiang
The Takla Makan Desert is also rich in natural resources, buried under it vast expanse are resources such as groundwater, oil and oil gas. During the oilfields' opening up, people encountered the problems of transportation. Thus the idea of building a highway came to people's mind. In the year 1995, a desert-road of 522 kilometers (more than 324 miles) was completed and opened to traffic. Construction work has commenced on the second desert-road in June, 2005 and it is to be completed by the end of 2007.

We strongly believe as time goes on, people will be more capable of conquering deserts and at the same time, make full uses of its rich natural resources for the benefit of humanity.

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- Last updated on Jul. 18, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Takla Makan Desert
Asked by HANNAH from AUSTRALIA | Aug. 31, 2016 03:56Reply
Going to take train from Wulumuqi to Kashgar. Does the train pass through the taklamakan desert?
Should I take the night train (the latest will be 9 pm) and reach to Kashgar next day 2pm. Or should take a day train around noon and reach Kasher next morning! Any suggestion for which stop should I get out for a day trip in between?

Thanks in advance!
Answers (2)
Answered by Abbey from AUSTRALIA | Sep. 01, 2016 03:37

No, the trains don't pass the desert. You are advised to take the night train and reach Kashgar on the next afternoon. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way! You may get off at Turpan to do a day trip. Have fun!
Answered by Hannah from AUSTRALIA | Sep. 01, 2016 05:40

Thank you Abbey! It is a very helpful info!
Asked by Veloceraptor from CANADA | May. 26, 2015 18:04Reply
What are the tourist attractions for the Takla Makan Desert?
Answers (1)
Answered by Cindy from INDIA | May. 26, 2015 20:39

In the desert, you will see the sand dune most, and Euphrates Poplars forest and ancient tomb complex if you are lucky.
Asked by Jutta Richter from UNITED KINGDOM | Feb. 28, 2015 08:14Reply
I would like to travel from Kashgar towards the core of the Taklamakan
This would be my question: I plan to visit Xinjiang in 2017 and in order to see the desert I would like to travel from Kashgar towards the inner areas of the desert. Which means of transportation would be recommendable?
Answers (2)
Answered by Peter | Mar. 04, 2015 01:35

I would recommend you hire a car to do this trip and the driver should be a local resident in case of any unexpected troubles.
Answered by Jutta from UNITED KINGDOM | Mar. 04, 2015 07:40

Thank you, Peter, very helpful
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