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.
Schematic Map of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region with the locations of Main Cities + Towns and sites of Interest.
- Tongxin Mosque, in Tongxin Town in Tongxin County of Wuzhong Prefecture. The Tongxin Mosque is one of the oldest surviving Mosques in China, a rare example remaining in these regions. It survived the Cultural Revolution by a combination of remoteness and zealous guarding by muslim inhabitants of Tongxin and surrounding villages. The Tongxin Mosque is also officially recognized as relic of the Long March, the most important founding Chapter in the history of the Communist Party of China.
Easiest way to travel is by car, taxi or bus to Tongxin and explore the Town. Apart from the mosque the county town of Tongxin has but a few landmarks. The largest of these is the revolutionary monument dedicated to the heroes of the Revolution, in this case the Long Marches who made it as far as Ningxia but did not reach the eventual Shaanxi Soviet.
- Xiaoguan Pass of Tang and Song Dynasty. This site is found near the Shixiakou Reservoir of Haiyuan Town in the extreme south of Zhongwei County at 11 miles distance south of Tongxin Town. Marking a strategic border which was important during the Qin and Han Dynasties the Xiaoguan Pass was historical location. Its historic reputation was enhanced by the historic event of the exodus of the some 30.000 Han people, fleeing southward before hostile tribesmen, during the ending times of the Tang Dynasty. Today there is nothing much to see except for small Monumental Pillar.
There are at least 3 worthwhile "sections" or clusters of Great Wall of China remnants to be found in Zhongwei Town and Prefecture. The most obvious, easiest to find and the most visited are first and foremost the Zhongwei Great Wall Scenic Zone found along the north rim of town and secondly the Great Wall of China section at Dawan Village, which is part of the Shapotou Scenic Zone in the south of Zhongwei City. There are yet more Great Wall of China sections found in the vicinity of Zhongwei (or there used to be), however these are far less easily located. At least one of these sites due north of Zhongwei may have disappeared underneath the desert sands. The other locations lie in areas west and south of Zhongwei and may have been (partially) damaged by the recent construction of the expressway(s) and new railroads in the wider area.
ZHONGWEI GREAT WALL OF CHINA:
What today is recognized as the "official" Zhongwei Great Wall of China is only a small section of the entire Wall section that protected the town of Zhongwei and the river plain beyond from attack. This official wall section is situated in a designated tourist zone which is found in the northern rural districts of Dongyuan (xiang) and Xinbei (xiang) in a direction due north east of the central Chengguan District.
The official Zhongwei Great Wall is an interesting section to explore due to its easy access (not free) and the fact that it stands between the desert and only a narrow fertile strip of land on the north bank of the river. More than a kilometer of now badly eroded mud wall, crumpling lumps of former watchtowers and the like can be found all sand-blown and sometimes already more than half buried by the sands of the Tengger Desert.
Although the wall seems to be limited in both the west and the east, seemingly consumed by ongoing agricultural and industrial activities, in reality the Great Wall of China can be traced further west and east. In this regard, the easiest "unofficial" Great Wall sections to try find and explore in Zhongwei extend westward from the official zone and can be followed with some difficulty to the airport and beyond.
The Wall is far more difficult to trace and walk to the east of the official Zhongwei Great Wall Zone.
SHAPATOU GREAT WALL / GREAT WALL AT DAWAN VILLAGE:
The second worthwhile Great Wall of China location to visit is found on the south bank of the Yellow River, on the peninsula that can be seen from the side of Shapotou (沙坡头) Village. The bend of the Yellow River that seems to create a peninsula opposite the location of Shapotou Village is known as the Shangda Wan, and this is the location of some battered ruins if the Great Wall, by now also "enriched" by a short restored section.
This Great Wall of China section can best be dubbed the Shapotou Great Wall, as it is semi-independent from the wall sections found in the north. In fact, the wall in the north is the main wall, whereas the Dawan or Shapotou Section only served a rear guard function, keeping an eye of the Yellow River boat (and raft) traffic, the ferrying point at Shapotou (and important point of communication for regional travelers) and of course the western flank of the Fortress of Zhongwei. Today, the Dawan section is but a short but interesting line of ruins included as part of the Shapotou Yellow River Scenic Zone. It can be reached from the north bank by means of a pedestrian bridge which connects across to the Dawan Peninsula of the Yellow River (or Dawan Bend Peninsula).
Other much more difficult to locate sections of the Great Wall in Zhongwei are described on the dedicated page dealing with all Great Wall Sections in Zhongwei Prefecture.
For more details and all locations of the Great Wall of China in Zhongwei Prefecture, please refer to our page: "Zhongwei Great Wall of China (Index)" which includes a handy Google supported Map identifying all separate Great Wall sections and bits of ruins in the wider vicinity.
For more information on the Yibailingba Ta Stupa's arrangement, please refer to:
SECTIONS OF THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA IN ZHONGWEI CITY & SHAPOTOU:
Zhongwei Shapotou Scenic Area:
Situated at 16 kilometers west of Zhongwei at Shapotou, the Shapatou Yellow River Scenic Zone is essentially a tourist resort and recreational area by the banks of the Yellow River. Apart from Shapotou Desert Sands Hotel (Shapo Shanzhuang) the zone includes the north bank and south banks of the Yellow River along the Dawan Bend of this river. Based upon the mythical scenery of Yellow River meeting sandy desert creating greenery, minor sections of the Great Wall of China and the fame achieved by the Shapotou Research center, the Scenic Zone includes various tourist rides and venues that are apparently necessary to entertain the passing tourists.
Most visitors arrive by bus and stay for a day only, others take some more time to take in and appreciate the local scene or race around in the sandy Tenger Desert on the north side of river and railroad. Originally, the main scenery and pleasure of Shapotou especially is in the contrast between the leafy, shady banks of the river itself, and the harsh desert that lies just beyond. At this specific location opposite Shapotou village, the river makes a sharp bend, creating the Dawan Peninsula. Especially when viewing from up above on the Shapotou Sand Dune or the Hills surrounding the river seems to wind and snake left and right through the landscape making for a wel balanced and striking composition.
As mentioned, the main focus of the scenic zone is its function as a tourist resort, providing it with well welcomed cafés and outdoor restaurants yet giving everything a slight distaste or tackyness.
Among the tourist activities on offer (during season!) are ferry rides, ziplines to cross over the river, various forms of sand-skiing and the obligatory camel rides. There’s very few pavilions inside the scenic zone itself, nor any air conditions shops or bars. Therefor, come prepared and take water, sunscreen and your sunglasses. Wearing hiking shoes, boots or other footware useable in loose sand is also advisable.
Technically not part of the Scenic Zone, but adjacent and attached is the Shapotou Desert Research Institute.
Although today less advertised, the Shapotou Desert Research Center, based in the village of Shapotou, just west and a bit south of Zhongwei proper, is a world renowned facility which pioneered techniques for combatinng the advance of deserts. Having quite the history which is well linked to the agricultural and economic development of Ningxia and other arid regions in the north and north west, the Desert Research Center arguably is still one of the must see sites to visit on your tour of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Explained in brief the desert research facility was developed in the 1950s, when among things it was found that newly developed railroads and irrigated lands were under the great threat of being swallowed by the advancing sands of the deserts. Techniques originally tried and tested in Shapotou have been very succesful in protecting the crucial
Baotou to Lanzhou Railway, which curves around the outside of the great bend of the Yellow River, from advancing sand dunes. Eversince, the new ways found to slow the advance of deserts and prevent further desertification have been used throughout the Peoples Republic of China and have been exported succesfully to other parts of the globe as well. Many countries in Africa owe much of their sucessess to the men and women who first labored to stop the desert and find ways to reverse what seemed inevitable before.
Today the Research Center is still active. It has also become a tourist hotspot of the region. Find it at Shapotou, now a district of Zhongwei. Simply following S201 Provincial Road westward out of Chengguan (Old City i.e. downtown) of Zhongwei City until reaching the river banks. The Research center is part of Shapotou Yellow River Scenic Zone which also includes a small section of the Great Wall of China on the south bank of the river. A pedestrian bridge connects both banks. Find a ticket office and a spacious parking lot awaiting at the end of S201 Provincial Road (Gulou West Street - Gulou Xi Dajie). The ticket is all inclusive. Find the Dawan Great Wall of China on the south bank.
- Hydro-electric Dam of the Yellow River at Xintongxia ; as the
name suggests the dam was built at the narrowest point of the river at some distance due south of Yinchuan and north east of Zhongwei. Here at Xintongxia the river used to press itself through, creating a turbulent golden stream. today, the rivers pace is broken by what was the first dam of the Yellow River in history and the formerly mighty river has dwindled in size, giving the area a rather peaceful and scenic character, especially in spring and summer when the banks of the river turn bright green with fresh vegetation.
Apart from walking on the dam and sightseeing its close vicinity, one can have a boat ride on the large Xintongxia reservoir and steam some ways up river. Along the reservoir at some 80 kilometers south of Yinchuan city and some 95 kilometers from Zhongwei stand the Yibailingba Ta - 108 Stupa's which overlook the lake.
Fully under-recongised for its historic importance and thus cultural-historic value, most visitors and even travel guides to the northern Regions of the Peoples Republic of China have ever heard of the Tenger Desert Lake, locally best refered to as the Tengeli Hu. Yet, the Tengeli Hu has a long history which is closely related to that of the town and thus the Great Wall of China that passes through what today is the City Prefecture of Zhongwei. Today the Tengeli Hu is but a modestly size lake, but around a 1000 years it was a much larger body of water which was part of a string of pools and marshes wich extended in a line far up into what today has all become the sandy Tenger Desert. In the times of the flourishing Silk Road(s) these oasis, were most valued as one of the lifelines and thus roads in the desert. Where even a 1000 years ago already, the desert sought to infringe further on everything in the regions, the Tengeli Lake and the underground river that fed the string of pools and marshes held it in place locally, and so created a secret highway through otherwise impassable and notoriously deadly swaths of rolling sand dunes.
(Further such roads lie further west in the Hexi corridor and are created by the Minqin River and the Hei River (or Ejin Gol)).
In modern day Zhongwei the Lake has been turned into a pay for tourist venue, where mainly come summer time and high season locals and passing tourists can enjoy the abundance of water in what otherwise is an extremely arid region with blisteringly dry air. Various kinds of entertainment are available, from the obligatory restaurant to a nearly equally obligatory brandnew golf course which lies mostly unused on the other side of the Lake. There is room for boating, enjoying walks around the lake, the sight of a few unusual birds such as partridges and gulls and some fitness games. Oddly, no swimming is allowed, nor is skating on the lake in winter times.
The highlight of the entertainment on hand so far is the opportunity to engage in a paintball war.
The Lake, its Hotel and emerging hotel appear to be one of the many such
Ice on the Tengeli Hu (Tenger Desert Lake) in December 2013. In winter there is so far little activity at Tengeli Lake. A new resort is set to open on the strip of land across from the Lake while other holiday homes and rooms have been constructed around the fast eroding last remnants of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty near the airport.
dream projects available in- and around China. With help of the new Zhongwei Airport the local Government hopes to develop the town as a luxury holiday resort for the more affluent city dwellers of the big coastal cities who enjoy higher salaries but by all means pay for it with less clean air, space and certainly not as much natural abundance as Zhongwei portends to offer (for westerners it may be a disappointment altogether as a resort).
HEISHAN TEMPLE HILL - HEISHAN DUI AND SIFANG DUI:
The Hei Shan, Black Mountain lies due north of Zhongwei Town along a road marked as Haiyuan North Street. Haiyuan North Street is a road that runs in a wide arc around the north side of the central city of Zhongwei among things passing behind and north of the airport and its Great Wall sections. That said, any not local and visiting for the first time may have a hard time identifying this road and making it down to the location of the Hill and its small but interesting Temple Complex.
The Temple of Heishan is also known as the Sifang Dui Temple Hill due to its association with the nearby Great Wall of China section (which has a tower only a 100 meters or so behind the Temple) and the nearby village of Sifang Dui which the Great Wall there is named after.
Although less easily found then the Tenger Desert Lake and the Airport and its Great Wall sections, the Hei Shan Hill Temple complex is one of the most interesting locations on the outskirts of Zhongwei that one might visit.
So far, hardly anyone visits there, not even during the tourist high season. Explore the newly renovated and expanded Temple and enjoy the spectacular view of the surrounding agricultural and industrial lands. Brown dust is spread everywhere, but in between the abundance of the region shows in green and other colors. In the distance, if the air is proper enough, one can make out the rising modernity of the town center. Less scenic are the various factories that lie in the zone that was once the border between China and Mongolia. Follow the Great Wall of China from the ancient and falling watchtower atop the Hill through the lands to the east of Heishan Hill and walk from Heishan Dui to Sifang Dui or even beyond.
Make sure to arrange for transport to- and from the location. There are no bus stops in the countryside here. One might be lucky and scoop a cap or hitch a ride on a passing truck, but otherwise it is miles of walking back into town.
OUTSKIRTS OF ZHONGWEI TOWN:
In addition to the landmarks and monuments of Zhongwei proper, there are a few sparse landmarks of interest to be found within relatively close distance to the center of the city. Although one would have to make quite the effort to get there by walking down to your destination from the city center, by use of a Taxi one can fairly easily reach there.
A Full Google Earth Supported Map of Zhongwei and Zhongwei Prefecture in Ningxia AR by AsiaReport.com.
For now Zhongwei and with it the Tengeli Hu are only popular as tourist getaway in the summer and - less- in fall months, when temperatures and spirits are high. In winter months there is no activity at the lake except for the presence of the person manning the ticket booth and the owner of the restaurant. Except for the fresh air and the historic sentiments there is little reason to travel out to the lake, but for anyone with due historic curiosity it is an advisable destination to include in your tour of the town and prefecture.
Travel time to the lake from Zhongwei Drum Tower is less than 20 minutes. An excursion there allows for stretching ones legs, exploring the lake and if lucky - the spotting of a rare bird that has been attracted to the safety of th lake. In adition, when interested in the the history of the Great Wall of China in Zhongwei a vist to the lake may wel enhance ones understanding of why the Great Wall was constructed in this remote strip of land in stuck between desert and river in the first place.
TENGGER ELS MONGOLIAN VILLAGE:
Travel from the lake out onto the sandy Tenger Desert to try and identify any remains of the now mostly buried or broken Great Wall of China that extened towards the Mongolian village that lies due north of the Lake. The Tenger Eli Sumu (Tenger Els) is legendary in the annals of 19th century explorations, and used to be one of the few Mongolian agricultural settlements found near Zhongwei. At this time however, the village, whipped by sands and plagued by ever increasing droughts, has largely been abondoned and now only exists as a location on maps, not as a real village.