Landmarks, Monuments & Hotspots of Yinchuan Region
Yinchuan Botanical Gardens:
The Yinchuan Botanical Gardens can be found South of Town at Shacheng Village. It covers a large area due East of the Ningxia Refinery and is located East of and immediatly along the Baotou-Yinchuan-Lanzhou Railway Line.
In total there are over 60 historical sites to be visited and enjoyed in Yinchuan and its vicinity.
Map Great Wall China - Layers of Dynasties and Era's
A Schematic Map of China and East-Asia, with a super-imposed schematic of the various layers of the Great Wall of China.
Features Pre-Qin Dynasty Wall, Qin Dynasty Wall, Western Han Great Wall of China, the (Northern) Jin Dynasty Great Wall and finally the Ming Dynasty Great Wall as mainly remains today.
Main Features are Names and locations location of Passes on the Great Wall of China, outer layer and inner layer. Includes Shanhai Pass, Huangya Guan (Yellow Cliff) Pass, JiYunGuan Pass, Ningwu Guan Pass, Pingxin Guan, YaMen Guan Pass, Pian Guan Pass, JiaYuGuan pass, YuMen Guan Pass (Jade Gate) and Yang Guan Pass.
Further included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape and main mountain ranges. Updates occur several times a year adding new pass locations and photo-virtual tours of Passes throughout China.
China Report - Map of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty
Satellite image of China and North-East Asia, with a super-imposed schematic Map of the location and Path of the Great Wall as constructed during the Reign of the Ming Dynasty. Included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape, Names and locations of Passes on the Great Wall of China.
The Yinchuan Report
Changqing Amusement Park & Xixia Movie & Television City:
Among the Tourist attractions of Yinchuan may also be counted the Changqing Amusement Park and adjacent Xia Xia Movie and Television City, eventhough these are located far outside of Town, part of Lihezhen Village on the Eastern bank of the Yellow River and North of Hedong Airport.
In the year 2010 still a dusty and unvisted destination situated just east of the outskirts of Yinchuan City and not an attration to draw any crowds, more recently the town of Hengcheng and with it the Changqing Amusement Park have become the target of larg scale investments and according development for tourist purposes.
While the city of Yinchuan is exploding in size, extending its drab mass housing projects eastward towards the wetlands and banks of the Yellow River, the town of Hengcheng has been virtually rebuilt into a restricted holiday village. By the end of 2013 the Changqing Amusement Pak has become a key part of the Hengcheng Yellow River Holiday Village which, sadly, also includes the westernmost parts of the Shuidonggou (Water Cave Gully) Great Wall of China. This section of the Great Wall may be regarded as among the most unique parts of the Great Wall of China in the Ningxia Region.
Read more in the brief report on the Changqing Amsuement Park, and / or the pages on the Water Cave Gully (Shuidonggou Great Wall) of China.
Western Xia Kings' Tombs (Xi Xia Wang Ling):
Great Wall of China in the Vicinity of Yinchuan:
Just South of Town of Gunzhongkou (Part of Yinchuan City Prefecture) is the other attraction, the so called 'Western Xia Tombs' or XiXia Wanling. There are a variety of ruins and Tombs among which the Tomb of Li Yuanhao, the founder of the Western Xia 'Dynasty'. Each of the tombs is a complete and more or less preserved architectural complex. The halls above the ground are mostly destroyed and ruined in ruins however the mourning platforms and sacred walls remain largely intact.
Sha Hu or Sand Lake (沙湖旅游景区) :
Sand Lake is a locally famous scenic area that combines the lush green scenes of this richly irrigated and fertile region with those of the sandy and barren desert beyond. With well-combined six scenes, namely “sand, water, reed, bird, mountain and lotus flower”, it forms beautiful landscape with its own characteristics. Although some landscapes resemble those at Zhongwei and Shapotou, the abundance of wild birds in this area make it especially attractive. There are some 660 hectares of lake and swamp area and 300 hectares of golden desert. In the middle of the lake is a small island, about one hectare in area where every year, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds come to rest, nest and breed.
The Sha Hu or Sand Lake is a desert with a large lake and high sand dunes. It has scenic view but climbing up the sand dunes can be quite exasperating and can qualify as hard work as much as it can qualify as Fun. Bring your kids along for some Sandy Fun much alike as there can be had at the Shapotou Scenic Zone.
The Great Wall location nearest to Yinchuan is not the Helan Pass but the Shuidonggou Great Wall (水洞沟), a section of earthen wall which stands on the East Bank of the Yellow River. Stretched along the southern border of the Ordos Desert this section of Great Wall has been built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) and served to protect the Eastern Flanks of this remote green bread basket Oasis.
The third Great Wall section near Yinchuan is found 60 kilometers due West of Yinchuan inside the Helan Mountains. At the entrance to the pass north of the S 102 Provincial Road at Xiaodundun (not far south of the Xi Xia Tombs) one can see a the piled and eroded remains of an ancient watch & beacon tower of the Great Wall and its defensive system. Nearby inside the Pass, at Zhenbaibo Village, stand two fortresses, once holding the garrisons and strategic reserve of the army guarding this remote and prosperous province.
Although this naming is factually incorrect as there are several minor passes that cut through the sharp edges and cliffs of the Helan Mountain Range, this main pass is locally often referred to as Helankou (The Helan Pass).
The village Zhenbeibu on Helan Mountain lies due North-West of Yinchuan and was chosen as the location for the now famous Chinese film 'Red Sorghum' directed by Zhang Yimou. Hence, Ningxia has gained another Tourist Attraction
Before Zhenbeibu Village was a dusty and completely remote spot only worthwhile to visit for its collection of ruined old fortresses, one built in the Ming Dynasty Era (1368 AD - 1644 AD), the other adjacent later during the Qing dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD). Before the firs filmwas made hardly anyone visited. Those who did go through the effort were mainly interested in the remote corners of the defenses of the -now ancient- Great Wall of China in Ningxia Region.
However, much has changed since the Town's famous ruinous 'Moon Gate' featured in a mainstream Chinese Film. Ever since, a steady stream of Actors, Film-makers and later tourists and romantic couples have made their way out to these remote corners to share in the purity and simplicity of life in the small village.
Zhenbeibu Village and West China Film Studios (镇北堡西部影视城) :
A last and fifth historic section the Great Wall of China is located in the Mountains north-west of Shizuishan City and is known as Dawukou or Jiucai Gou Great Wall. It was built there during the Ming Dynasty Era in order to close a small Gap in the Northern and Frontal Borders and marked the border of the Chinese Empire. Many centuries later it became the border with Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The relics included mural paintings, delicate handicrafts, ancient pottery, and bricks covered in square designs. After careful tests and research, the archaeologists ascertained that the tombs belonged to the emperors of the 11th century Western Xia regime, and the words on the bricks were actually Western Xia (Tangut) characters. The Tanguts had their own script.
Detailed investigations and research on the tombs have been carried out ever since. So far only one imperial tomb has been uncovered, as well as four coffin chambers and stone-tablet pavilions. Other relics found on site include sculptures, coins and pottery which revealed a historical record written in Western Xia characters and paintings depicting scenes of the the Western Xia people's nomadic lifestyle. The uniquely-shaped stone carvings and clay sculptures, rare finds from this short-lived ancient Empire have also provided archaeology experts with additional sources for clues about this ancient and nearly lost civilization.
Train and Long-Distance Bus Lines connect to all destinations within this smallest 'province' of China.
Helan Shan Rock Carvings :
The Helan Shan rock carvings found inside mountain passes which lie due West of Yinchuan rank among China's oldest cultural and historical relics. Although various kinds of rock paintings and carvings can and have been found in regions around China, for instance in Qinghai, Xinjiang and Tibet, Yunnan and Sichuan, Jiangxi Province and others, the Helan Shan paintings are of especially unique and of extreme historical importance. It is held that some of paintings strewn throughout the mountains are proven to date from around 10.000 years ago thus representing the earliest Chinese cultures and civilizations. The Helan paintings, and especially the easiest to reach specimens at Helankou, are therefor very popular among Chinese tourists. Although raw and primitive the Helan Shan paintings are the next best thing to see after the Xixia Wanling Tangut Tomb Site. These flocks of tourists are entirely right to make the effort to travel out this far as both the pass scenery and the rock carvings and paintings themselves do not disappoint. Stunning natural beauty and amazingly well preserved ancient messages combine into a nearly surreal desert and mountain experience.
Huangyangtan Military Base :
The last 'Landmark' or site of interest near Yinchuan is not exactly public and certainly cannot be visited without going through extensive procedures. The location and facility in case are what is known as the Huangyangtan Military Base. Its is reportedly located some 35 kilometers South-West of Yinchuan, and supposedly is a secret military base. The significance of the best can best be explained as that with the coming online of Google Maps and Google Earth with China in 2006 AD it was revealed that the Huangyangtan Military Base appears to hold a complete mock-up of a disputed border region with India.
Full Google Map of the Huangyangtan Base near Minningzhen in 2006 with Aksai Chin mock up.
According to Wikipedia: "In June 2006, satellite imagery on the Google Earth service revealed a 1:150 scale terrain model of eastern Aksai Chin (阿克赛钦) and adjacent Tibet, built near the town of Huangyangtan, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) southwest of Yinchuan, the capital of the Autonomous region of Ningxia in China. A visual side-by-side comparison shows a very detailed duplication of Aksai Chin in the camp. The 900 by 700 m (3,000 by 2,300 ft) model was surrounded by a substantial facility, with rows of red-roofed buildings, scores of olive-colored trucks and a large compound with elevated lookout posts and a large communications tower. Such terrain models are known to be used in military training and simulation, although usually on a much smaller scale.
Local authorities in Ningxia point out that their model of Aksai Chin is part of a tank training ground, built in 1998 or 1999."
It looks as if the Chinese Military was using the base as a training zone for troops intended to defend this disputed region by Force.
At the Time the revelation caused only a minor scandal, since not many people are aware what the Aksai Chin border region is.
Wikipedia quotes its importance quite accurately as this: The China National Highway 219 runs through Aksai Chin connecting Lazi and Xinjiang in the Tibet
Autonomous Region. Despite this region being nearly uninhabitable and having no resources, it remains strategically important for China as it connects Tibet and Xinjiang. Construction started in 1951 and the road was completed in 1957. The construction of this highway was one of the triggers for the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
Naturally, Foreign Tourists are in no way encouraged to go browse around near the base and have some sort of look for themselves. Do not get yourselves in trouble and stay clear of Military Facilities of any kind in China, especially when carrying professional photo-equipment.
Nevertheless it is interesting to know that the landscape near Yinchuan resembles the high altitude salt-desert of far western Tibet.
Location: South of Tangut Royal Tombs (Xixia Wanling Site) along S201 Road. From Xixia Wanling continue southward along G 110 Road (main road near east of the site) until reaching the intersection with S 201 Provincial Road (which comes in from East to West). South of the intersection this road is also known as S 201 Provincial road. Pass Tianjin Yaozi and drive for several more kilometeres until reaching Minhecun -6 farmhouses along the road- and what is described as 'agriculture kaifaqu', a sort of dried & parched park behind them to the East which actually is an agricultural storage area & facility for drying corn and grain.
The much larger Base is immediatly on the other side of the Road to the West.
Entrance Fee: 80 Yuan/RMB - 122 RMB full ticket (=Pricy!)
Photo: small tourist boats used for sightseeing and fishing on the Sha Hu Lake in North Ningxia Region.
A new attraction built inside the Helan Pass is the Yinchuan World Rock Art museum, a modern facility opened in 2008 AD near the most visited of the many Helan Shan Rock Carvings.
The newly constructed and state-of-the-art Museum occupies an area of over 7 square kilometers, with a floor space of over 4,000 square meters and an exhibition area of over 2,000 square meters. The museum is composed of 8 parts; the Introduction Hall, the Hall of World Rock Art, the Hall of Chinese Rock Art, the Hall of Rock Engravings of the Helan Mountains, the Hall of Primitive Arts, the Lecture Hall, the Scientific Research and Restoration Laboratory, and the Information and Media Centre.
The Museum is however not only about the Helan Shan and its pre-historic artistic statements. Part of the museum are over 500 exhibits,
The exterior of the newly constructed Helan Shan Rock Art Museum. Although impressively modern the collection is mainly educational for Chinese visitors. The real treasures of the Museum are found in the Helankou Pass, which lies behind the museum. Some of the rock carvings in the pass are over 2000 years old.
representing some of the most significant examples of rock art from 31 countries around the world. The exhibits include original artifacts, replicas, rubbings, tracings and photography.
The earth platform in the west of the site was for sacrificial offerings. Behind it is an eye catching mausoleum platform, which today has eroded down into an earthen pile with a remnant height of 23 meters (about 75.44 fee). Originally however the pile stood as a five to seven storied solid eight-sided pagoda, an unique architectural design for mausoleum Tombs in the history of these Regions.
Between the sacrifice palace and mausoleum platform lies earth ridge, under which is corridor leads to the tomb chamber, the so called underground palace.
Although floodings regularly came down from Helan Shan during heavy rains the area of the Western Xia Imperial Tombs was left untouched during their 1000 year history. So far 8 or 9 stone kneeling statues with sticking teeth, glower and plump breast with an unknown significance and function were unearthed at the site. Full excavations have yet to be performed.
The Western Xia Imperial Tombs are situated in the western suburb of Yinchuan to the east of Helan Mountain. Complete the grounds stretch 4.5 kilometers from east to west, and 10 kilometers south to north, covering an area of 50 square kilometers. Altogether, so far nine imperial tombs have been
Chinese children play with insects in the grass while their parents worry about seeing the heavily eroded ancient Xixia Kings Tomb (Xixia Wanling) visible in the background.
identified among more than 100 coffin chambers buried in the area. Apart from the main Tombs open to the Public, hundreds of conical hills can be seen over the expenses of Ningxia's wasteland.
The third tomb is the largest and best preserved of the nine imperial tombs. Among things due to its largest size archaeologists believe hold to be the burial chamber of the first Western Xia Emperor, who's name is translated in Chinese as Li Yuanhao (李元昊) (and who's Title is degraded to King Status).
How to Get There: Follow the south section of Yinchuan Raocheng Expressway westward past the Great Wall Hotel to end up at Pingjibao interchange at the South-West Corner of this Ring Road. Drive straight through, do not turn off and pass a medium sized canal. Beyond the interchange the road ends and turns southward as 110 National Road (NOT the Highway!) leading directly to XiXia Wanling. Mind you, beyond along the same road are several more Tomb sites mist by most tour-groups!
Entrance to the Xi Xia Wang Ling: High Season: 60 RMB each, Off-Season: 40 RMB each
Full Photos and Backgrounds on Xixia Wanling, the Tangut Royal Tombs :
Although their twin Monasteries no longer exist, levelled to the ground as recently as the during the Cultural Revolution Era (1966 AD - 1976 AD), the remaining Twin Pagoda's of Baisikou are considered the two most splendid examples of Pagoda architecture of the Tangut (Xixia) Era (1038 AD - 1227 AD).
Although of different ethnic origin, the Tangut had earlier lived in close connection with the Han Chinese and ancient trading pathways (later dubbed the silk road) ensured the arrival of buddhism in their realm. In fact, the Xixia and their Kings were devout buddhist and the Xixia way of life was centered around the teachings of the Buddha rather than the Islamic rituals and rules of today. Hence, among things their construction of elaborate temples, monasteries and to aspire to higher levels of wisdom, some very fine stone pagoda's.
The splendid and rarely well preserved Twin Pagoda's of Baisikou in Ningxia set against the backdrop the Helan Mountains and the Bai Kou pass. Even without their accompanying monasteries they are a spectaculair site.
Baisikou Twin Pagodas of the Tangut Empire - Baisikou Shuangta:
Apart from the considerable sites to see within the City of Yinchuan, there are several more to be found within the region. In fact, at least two of the great historical monuments and tourist magnets associated with Yinchuan lie at a considerable distance outside of Town. These are the Tangut King Tombs (Xixia Wanling) and the Helan Shan Rock engravings and paintings.
Other monuments in the vicinity are not necessarily less famous but not always immediately mentioned in relation to the City, among these are first and foremost the Great Wall of China and the Yellow River. Apart from these two, there are the unique twin pagoda's of the Monasteries of Baisikou, the 108 dagoba's, excursions to Zhongwei, many Mosques in the region, the popular Chinese attraction of the Western Film Studios and quite a bit more still. Browse the reviews below.
Situated underneath the Helan Shan Mountains at the entrance to what is known as the Bai Si Kou (White Temple Pass), the Pagoda's stand tall surrounded by lush greenery and away from any nearby center of civilization. Even today it is a splendid spot, perfect to spend an afternoon and see the sun go down in the west casting on amazing light on these ancient giants.
Read the Complete Story of the Baisikou pagoda's :
This page was last updated on: July 13, 2017
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Pagoda Temple of the Mother Goddess of the Yellow River in Qingtongxia (Bronze Gorge) :
Beyond the immediate vicinity of Yinchuan City the list of interesting albeit usually remote monuments and historic landmarks continues.
Although situated at a distance of around 100 kilometers from the city of Yinchuan proper and thus time consuming for a visit, the last Landmark that should be mentioned as one to travel to from the Capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region directly is the recently completed and rather stunning Pagoda Temple of the Mother Goddess of the Yellow River and adjoining "scenic zone" at Qingtongxia Town (District). Completed as recent as the fall of the year 2013, this new tourist attraction consists of a truly
massive 8 storey pagoda which is the center piece of an elegently designed "temple complex" which itself sit perched atop a mound situated on a mandmade island in the stream of the Yellow River. The entire complex, usually nearly abondoned except for during the tourist high season (June-July-August), emerges as a stunning and colorful feature in the otherwise brown, dusty and still ultra-rural country-side found on the west bank of the Yellow River in the Qingtongxia County (now District of Wuzhong Prefecture). Other than the city of Wuzhong itself, which has no attractions worth mentioning except for an old and dilapidated Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) Era city wall that lies mostly in tatters, there are no other nearby tourist landmarks to be found. Only accompanying tourist developments and the almost obligatory but seemingly useless and still mostly empty highrises buildings
The massive pagoda tower of the so called Mother Goddess of the Yellow River Temple of Qingtongxia, a recently completed modern day landmark created as a hommage to the Yellow River and a means of entertaining locals and tourist travelers alike.
can be seen going up in the vicinity and even the seemingly rural countryside amidst ancient orchards and farm lands.
Explore the magnificent Yellow River Goddess Temple and climb to the top of its gargantuan pagoda to overlook the width of the slow flowing Yellow River of Ningxia and some of the new city of Wuzhong arising on the opposite banks. Although this "temple complex" does not qualify as a serious religious landmark as there are no religious services nor an accepted popular religious character known as the mother Goddess of the Yellow River, the site certainly is spectacular and interesting enough to pay a visit and pay hommage to the ancient and majestic Yellow River.
In 1992 AD the brand-new West China Film Studio was founded on the Zhenbeibu site after which the barren desert landscapes of Zhenbeibu Town and surrounding area's have featured as dramatic backdrop in over 60 Chinese Films. And the work likely is not yet done as the Chinese Public has fallen in Love with Ningxia's landscapes and sceneries.
Although the West China Film Studios are still very much operational, the Site of the Studio has been exploited as a Tourist Destination and attraction for several years. Especially during the holiday seasons, business is booming. For anyone not in love with Chinese Cinema, it is probably a horrible and not very interesting place to visit. Lovers of Chinese Cinema however, especially those who enjoyed: 'Red Sorghum' (Zhang Yimou), 'Ashes of Time' (director Kar Wai Wong), 'A
Escape from the City, modernity or even reality for a bit at the Zhenbeibu Fortress turned Western Film Studios turned theatrical and entertainment experience. Fun for all the family with a true historic backdrop.
Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora's Box' (starring Stephen Chow) and 'A Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella' (starring Stephen Chow), must visit and have their Photo taken at the by now internationally renowned 'Moon Gate'. Other attractions include the blacksmith house as featured in the film 'the Songs of the Yellow River', a wine wine shop and the sedan (chair) used in the Film 'Red Sorghum', and opportunities to dress up as Red Army Revolutionaries and other historical caracters.The Film Studio complex is further home film data house annex library and a screening room / cinema to view Chinese Films.
How to Get There: Zhenbaibo Village lies in the first foothills of the Helan Shan mountains right outside the ring road (Yinchuan Raocheng Expressway) that encircles both the old and new city. Head out of town through the North-Western University & Campus section of Yinchuan passing Jiefang Park and then Yinchuan Er Zhoingxi Campus on your way westward along Beijing West Road. At the end, turn North into G 110 National Highway and drive some kilometers to the village and studios.
Distance: More than 50 kilometers from Yinchuan. Rent a Taxi or Car for a Day and combine with a visit to the Baishikou Pagoda's or Helan Pass and Great Wall.
Winters：8：30 AM - 17:30 AM
Summer (High Season)：8：00 AM - 18:00 PM
Entrance Fee: Yuan/RMB 40
Nearby Baisikou, just North of the Tomb Site, once served as the summer resort of Emperor Li Yuanhao of the Western Xia Dynasty. It was one of the important Empires of its day, which lasted 190 years, saw 10 Emperors and had its own oral and written language and a strong army. The XiXia Army eventually died at the hands of the Mongols but they likely took the infamous Mongol Leader the Great Genghis Khan himself with it, as he died shortly after defeating the Tanggut's by capturing their second Capital at Kharakoto (Heicheng).
The Western Xia imperial tombs were discovered by accident during the construction of a military air field in 1972. The soldiers were digging at the site in order to lay foundations when they found a dozen pieces of old pottery and some bricks. With the help of archaeologists from the Ningxia Provincial Museum, the ancient tombs were finally unearthed.
The main road that leads up to this Helan Pass starts near Zhenbeibu Village (and its Western Film Studios) heading directly east towards the mountains. The pass is an interesting location to visit, not only for the presence of its ancient stone carvings and stone art, but also as an opportunity to experience the ravines of the Helan Mountains up close.
Although NO remains of the Great Wall of China can be found inside the narrow ravine of Helan Pass, the Zhenbeibu Fortress, now well know as Western Film Studios, should be regarded as a considerable defensive position that was a stop-gap in the larger defenses of the Great Wall of China in the north-west. In addition, the Zhenbeibu Fortresses offer a unique chance to inspect an original, albeit minor, Great Wall Fortress up close. (Another such fortress can be found due East of Yinchuan as part of the Water Cave Gully Great Wall of China. These are the only two such 'preserved' Fortresses in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region today).
A Fourth significant section of the Great Wall of China to be found near Yinchuan is the Three Gates Pass, the San Guan Kou.
This site is known as the Sanguankou (Helan Pass) Great Wall and today consists mainly of ruins in the desert on its southern side, whereas the northern parts run up into the Helan Mountains offering a spectacular climb.
Running for 80 kilometers south from the former Three layered Gate and historic battlefield, the Sanguankou Great Wall south sections run betseen the desert and the Yellow River offering great chances to walk along a western wild wall for anyone daring and tough enough to make the effort and explore it.
The Three Gates Pass is found on the southern end of the Helan Mountain Range along the route to Bayan Hot (Bayan Nur) in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Although bus driverson the route to Bayan Hot are said to be willing to drop off passangers on site as well as pick up stragglers attempting to hitch a lift back to the city of Yinchuan, following this procedure could prove to be a risky strategy. A much safer way to explore the pass and the extends of wall south of it would be to come with your own (rented?) vehicle, or otherwise arrange or a Yinchuan taxi to drop you off as
View of the Three Gates Pass as it wins its way into Bayan Nur Prefecture of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. As the traffic sign shows, the next city either way is at least 60 kilometers since the San Guan Kou lies about halfway betwen Yinchuan and Bayan Hot.
well as pick you up at some point and time. Make sure to get this right or be left stranded in the barren and freezing desert overnight among the Obo's. Although the highway is in sight it is certainly not a given that any traffic would stop in the dead of night to offer a stranger a lift and a rescue. Nobody walks back to the city. Do not get stranded at Sanguankou (in any time of the year).