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Kumul, a county-level city in the Kumul Prefecture in the east of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China, is located east of Tianshan Mountains. As early as more than 2000 years ago, Kumul has become a stronghold on the Silk Road when Zhang Qian first opened it in the Han Dynasty. As a result, it is also called "the Strategic Passage to the Western Regions (a Han Dynasty term for the area west of Jade Gate Pass, including what is now Xinjiang and parts of Central Asia), and the Passageway Linking up East to West". Kumul is also the well-known Hami melon growing area. Kumul covers an area of 8.5 square kilometers (850 hectares), with a population of 404.4 thousand. 21 ethnic groups including the Uygur people, Han people, Hui people, Kazakh people, etc. live in this city. The postal code here is 839000 while the area code is 0902.
Kumul has beautiful landscape and a lot of places of interest. The east branch of Tianshan Mountain traverses the territory. In Kumul, we can see mountain streams and pine forests everywhere. On the foot of the mountain, there are vast grasslands where animal husbandry is well developed. It is also the native haunt of the famous Barkol Horse. Barkol Lake, White Stone, Kou Men Zi, Mingsha Mountain, Shi Cheng Zi, Ba Da Shi (or Eight Huge Rocks), Miao Er Ravine, Xi He Ravine (or West Black Ravine) and so on are all unique natural landscapes here. Apart from the beautiful natural landscape, there are places of historic figures and cultural heritages that are worthy to be visited in Kumul as well due to the long history here, including Hui Wang Ling (Tomb of the King in Kumul), Gai Si Mu (Tomb of Gai Si), Tianshan Temple and some ancient cities, ancient stone tablets and cliff paintings.
Kumul attractions are characterized by grasslands, huge mountains, deserts, and historical ruins. The top sights in Kumul include the Tianshan Mountain Scenic Area, featuring grasslands, lush forests and snowy peaks, Barkol Grasslands, the second largest grassland area in Xinjiang, and the Mausoleum of the Kumul Uygur Kings.
Kumul served as an important town on the Silk Road, and is included on many Silk Road adventure itineraries. Take a China Highlights' Kumul tour and explore the Silk Road.
Tianshan Mountain Scenic Area is located on the north slope of East Tianshan Mountain. It begins from Han Qi Ravine in the east and ends at Song Shu Tang in the west. It reaches Tianshan Temple in the south while it reaches Ming Sha Mountain in the north.
Tianshan Mountain Scenic Area consists of five parts: White Stone, Ming Sha Mountain, Song Shu Tang, Tianshan Temple and Han Qi Ravine. During the way from the central city of Kumul to Tianshan Mountain Scenic Spot, which measure over 70 kilometers (about 43.50 miles) long, people can appreciate five different natural sceneries including oasis, Gobi or desert, grassland, forest and snowy peaks. Sceneries along the way like mirages, Feng Sui Yi Zhan (Beacon Tower Courier Station), Han Bei Tang Miao (Stone Tablets of Han Dynasty and Temples of Tang Dynasty), pastures, yurts, deer groups can all present the unique beauty of Silk Road and Western Regions.
Natural landscape in Tianshan Mountain Scenic Spot is very beautiful. In summer, the grassland is green and boundless, while in winter, everything is white, making a silver world. Here, there are clear and rippling lakes, high mountains, tens of thousands of virgin forest and vast desert. Seasons in Tianshan Mountain Scenic Spot are different, with fascinating sceneries made by Tianshan Mountain’s height. Tianshan Temple on the top of Tianshan Mountain is a three-room hall made of bricks and wood, with a broken stone tablet. This scene presents a desolate picture in which there are old temple and broken stone tablets standing in cold snow. Climb the mountain, reach the top, and people can overlook the beautiful scenery. Through the vast sea of forests, the winding mountain path and the clouds and mist, people can get to know the magnificence of nature.
Apart from the beautiful natural landscape, in Tianshan Mountain Scenic Spot, there are also various vacation villages and scenic spots like Ming Sha Mountain, Song Shu Tang Ski Resort and so on. In hot summer, the weather is cool here, with green grass. So Tianshan Mountain Scenic Spot is a best place to spend summer holiday. In winter, everywhere here is covered with thick and white snow. So it is a good choice for tourists to appreciate snow and play with snow.
It is 90 kilometers (1 hour and 15 minutes) between Fukang City and Mount Tianshan via expressway. There is a provincial road (the North Xin Road of Silk Road) that passes Tianshan Mountain Scenic Spot. Traffic and communication is quite convenient here.
Barkol Grassland is located in Kumul, northeast of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is 18 kilometers (11.12 miles) northwest of Barkol County.
Barkol Grassland is the second largest grassland in Xinjiang. Tourists can go to Barkol Grassland to avoid summer heat, and entertain themselves in winter. It is also called “Hometown of Heavenly Horse”.
Barkol Grassland is 1650 meters above sea level. Jokuls are glittering and translucent, with verdant pine forests and wreathing clouds and fog, making the scenery changeable. This is called “Tian Shan Song Xue”. Till now, Barkol is called “Hometown of Heavenly Horse”.
About 5 kilometers (about 3.10 miles) south of Barkol ancient city, there is a hill called “Yue Gong Tai” (Terrace of Sir Yue) measuring about 200 meters high. Having jokuls on its back, “Yue Gong Tai” faces the grassland, with uniquely-shaped stones and beautiful peaks on its top and running creeks and waterfalls on its foot. Overlooked from the top of “Yue Gong Tai”, the vast grassland looks like a boundless ocean. Han ancient city and Man ancient city are connected with each other, like a huge sea craft sailing in the green sea.
Next to “Yue Gong Tai” lies a valley where the scenery is quite beautiful. The valley is twisting, mountain road winding. Scenery suddenly becomes extensive when people come to the valley bottom. Seeing the steep cliffs, green trees, exotic flowers and herbs, tourists will feel that they enter a different world. The valley smells fragrant because it abounds in herbs. Even in cold winter with heavy snow, spring is evident everywhere in the valley, with green grass, blossoming flowers and tall pine trees. In the legendary, there lived a black dragon in the black valley, travelling from the valley and the Dragon King's palace and thus bringing the spring scenery to this valley.
"Jian Shan Zi" is on the south bank of Barkol Lake. Early in the morning, when the whole grassland is still in a grey mist, the mountain peaks have become red because of the sunshine of the rising sun. This scenic spot is called “Jian Shan Xiao Ri” (meaning the morning sun on the mountain top). On the huge rock on the top of the mountain, a poetic sentence that "Dong Jun Pian You Yi, Guang Zhao Jian Shan Dian" (meaning noblemen from the east coming here with strong will, sun shining on the top of the mountain) was carved in seal character. It is told that this is carved by the fingers of Xuanzang and his three disciples when they reached here on the way to India. There is another scenic spot called “Sha Shan Gu Ying” (meaning the ancient camp site in the sandy hills), in the sandy hills 48 kilometers (about 29.83 miles) east of the ancient city.
Barkol Lake in Kumul is a high land lake, with an elevation of 1585 meters. Around it, there a waving hills, with rich water and grasses. In the lake, green waves are rippling. In summer, herdsmen graze near the lake bank. Ranges of yurts, herds of cattle and ship and melodious pastoral song make Barkol Lake an ideal summer resort. Barkol Lake is also known as Puleihai Lake or Poxi Lake. In Yuan Dynasty (1206-1370), it was called Ba Er Ku Le Nao Er. It was also known as Meng Gu Sha or Ba Er Ku Er in Qing Dynasty. There are lots of beautiful tales about Barkol Lake. The most popular one tells a story of girl of Han people and a Kazakh young man called Puleihai. They fought together against a monster who attempted to destroy the lake. At last, the girl became a stone under the Jianshan Mountain, and the young man perished together with the monster into the lake. They paid their lives for the happy life of other people. To commemorate them, people named the creeks on the foot of Jianshan Mountain "Han Gu Creeks" (meaning creeks of the Han girl) and named the Lake “Puleihai Lake”. Water in “Han Gu Creeks” are good for making mineral spring water. Now, a joint mineral water factory has been set up with businessman from Hong Kong.
People can take a bus from the Kumul Bus Station to the county town of Barkol. It costs 300 to 400 RMB if people take a taxi to go there.
Mausoleum of Kumul Uygur Kings is located in Shazaojing Village, Huicheng County which is in the west of Kumul City.
Mausoleum of Kumul Uygur Kings is the largest mausoleum in Kumul.
The whole mausoleum complex covers an area of 1.3 hectares, with enclosure around. The mausoleum consists of three parts. The first part is the tomb, in which the seventh King of Kumul and his wives, the eighth King of Kumul and his 39 relatives including his wives are buried. This grand tomb is a famous Islam building in Xinjiang.
Its upper part is round in shape while its lower part is square. It is 17.8 meters in height and 1500 square meters (0.15 hectare) in floor area. The tomb looks magnificent and solemn, simple but elegant. The second part is five pavilion-style wooden tombs where all other kings are buries. They are arranged from east to west. However, now there are only two of them are well preserved. The third part is the Aitika Grand Mosque. The masque measures 60 meters in length and 35 meters in width, covering an area of 2280 square meters (0.228 hectare). It can hold 5000 people in total. The ceiling of Aitika Grand Mosque is supported by 108 wooden pillars with carved patterns. The four walls are decorated with patterns of flowers and Alcoran in Arabic.
There are various kinds of food in Kumul. Tourists can have a taste of specialties of different places including Sichuan cuisine, Cantonese cuisine, Hunan cuisine, western fast food. They can also have delicious food with ethnic characteristics and Western Regions' special tastes in the big restaurants or stalls in Kumul, such as watermelons, great course with both meat and vegetables, thin cakes with mutton, potherb series (mushrooms, Artemisia dracunculus and goldball onion), You Su bread, mutton eaten with hands etc.
Food in the ethnic food area in west Hebanei tastes good. Tourists can bring food materials to the farmhouse-style restaurants of Uygur people in the Huichen County in the south. The night market of Kumul is near Dashizi. Besides, there are other kinds of food that tourists should not miss like the roast meat near bridge factory in the central city, meatball soup on the crossing near the restaurant, mutton soup on the south Jianguo Road, and the special chow mein near the fire station on Bayi Road.
Climate in Kumul is a typical arid continental climate of temperate zone. There is a big temperature difference between day and night. So, there is a saying popular here that "people wear fur-lined jacket in the morning and wear very thin clothes in the noon, while in the night, they eat watermelons around a warm stove". In the parts outside the mountainous area, the biggest daily range in a year can reach 26.7 °C, with the the highest temperature (extreme) 43.9 °C and the lowest temperature (extreme) －32 °C.
The best seasons for tourists to come to Kumul are July, August and September, namely the late summer and the early autumn. During this period of time, tourists can have a taste of the tasty fruits, appreciate the beautiful natural scenery and get to known about different manners and customs of different ethnics.
Kumul Airport is about 10 kilometers (about 6.21 miles) east of the central city of Kumul. People can take Bus 6 to go there.
Kumul Railway Station is located on the North Tianshan Road in the central city of Kumul. It is the first large railway station a train will pass when it goes into Xinjiang. Lanxin Railway runs across Kumul, connecting it with Turpan, Urumqi, Changji and Shihezi.
Now, from Kumul Railway Station, people can go to inland big or middle-sized cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Jinan, Lanzhou and so on.
People can take Bus 1, Bus 3, Bus 4, Bus 5, Bus 6, Bus 12 etc. in the central city to go to the railway station.
Kumul Long-distance Bus Station has buses going to big or middle-sized cities like Urumqi, Jiuquan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Barkol and Yiwu. There are regular buses going to Mongolia as well. Besides, there are many bused going to Songshutang, passing scenic spots like Tou Dao ravine, Ta Shui Village, Han Qi Ravine, Tianshan Gorge and so on.
People can take Bus 3, Bus 5, Bus 7, Bus 8, Bus 11 and Bus 13 to get to Kumul Long-distance Bus Station.
There are altogether 14 bus lines in the central city of Kumul. People can either stop the bus by making signs like waving or wait for the bus at the station. The ticket price is 1 RMB. Buses start working at 8:00 am and by 22:00 pm there will be no buses.
The starting fare of taxis in Kumul is 5 RMB. Because the central city is not large, it only takes 5 RMB to travel around it.