Kashgar is sited west of the Taklamakan Desert at the feet of the Tian Shan mountain range.
Situated at the junction of routes from the valley of the Oxus, from Khokand and Samarkand, Almati, Aksu, and Khotan, the last two leading from China and Pakistan, Kashgar has been noted from very early times as a political and commercial centre.
The Kashgar oasis is where both the northern and southern routes from China around the Taklamakan Desert converge. It is also almost directly north of Tashkurgan through which traffic passed from the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara, in what is now Pakistan, and Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.
About 200 km (120 mi) west of the present city, just past the present border with Kyrgyzstan, the main Silk Road crossed into the head of the Alay Valley from where relatively easy routes led southwest to Balkh or northwest to Ferghana. The present main road now travels northwest through the Torugart pass.
May 28, 2009