Highlights, Monuments & Scenic sites of North-West Qinghai Province :
This page was last updated on: July 11, 2017
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Qinghai Province of China
Highlights, Monuments & Scenic sites of North-West Qinghai
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There are but 16 museums in Qinghai Province. The Top Tourist attractions of Qinghai Province are considered to be the the Ta'Er (Kumbum) Monastery, The Dongguan Great Mosque of Xining first built in 1379 AD, the Giant Qinghai Lake which lies only 100 kilometers west of Xining, and the natural sceneries of the Province among which first and foremost the Mengda Nature Reserve.  Next in popularity are the various minority communities near Xining and in South Qinghai Province. There are however many more smaller worthwhile things to see and places to visit.
Much less talked about let alone highlighted or visited are the remnants of The Great Wall of China in Qinghai Province.
Yes, that is correct: sections of the Great Wall of China are found in the Eastern-most parts of Tibet as well, where it functioned to prevent a complicated military bypass of the main Chinese Defenses along the Northern Hexi Corridor (in nearby Gansu Province), as well as the demarcation of the border with non-Han Tribes, in effect the border of China. Not much discussed by Chinese Tour-agencies nor published on in popular tour-guides, West of this (lesser) part of the Great Wall lay the territory of the Tibetans, for centuries ruled by the Lama's of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Although Xining functioned as a major
Schematic Map depicting the multiple layers of the Great Wall of circling Beijing and North and North-East China.
YanMenguan Pass at Datong, Shanxi Province
Lanzhou, Capital of Gansu Province
Old Dragon's Head - East Terminus at QinhuangDao
Xining, Capital of QingHai Province
Xi'An, Shaanxi Province
Zhengzhou, Henan Province
Jinan, Capital of Shandong Province
Hohhot, Inner Mongolia AR
Yinchuan, Capital of Ningxia Hui AR
Beijing, Capital of China
Chinese Military strongpoint since the 16Th Century, the main defenses of entire West China centered on the City of Lanzhou more to the East on the Yellow River.
The North-Western Regions of Qinghai Province have few population centers and even fewer historical sites to see or witness. Apart from the destruction of cultural relics during the so-called 'Cultural Revolution Era' (无产阶级文化大革命)(officialy 1966 AD - 1976 AD), there are two main reasons for this.
First and foremost, the North-Western regions mainly consist of the Da Qaidam Basin, which is surrounded by very high and steep granite mountains.  The main landscape of the Da Qaidam Basin consist of high altitude desert tundra, which is interspersed by large swamp area's. There are many lakes, most of which are salty. All in all it is the roughest corner of the entire Eastern Tibetan Region of Amdo (Qinghai Province) and until as recent as the 1960's and 70's it was only inhabited by nomadic peoples.

This brings up the second reason for a lack of landmarks, temples or monuments. There are none simply because this regions was inhabited by nomads, who either slept under opens skies, or lived in yurts: the Mongolian nomads' portable homes. The nomads that inhabited the region were mainly of Mongolian origin, Tibetan or Kazakhs, erstwhile immigrants from Central Asia. Although the lifestyle in the region was dramatically altered by various communist policies during the Mao Zedong Era, Mongolians and Kazakhe can still be found in the region.
The largest Mongolian enclave, the Haixi Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, makes up the majority of the surface area of north-west Qinghai and has its Capital at Delingha (also:Delhi) at about half the distance between Kokonor (Qinghai Lake) and some 200 kilomters distance from Da Qaidam. It is only a modest town which is hardly ever heard from because of its strategic military function.
The Kazakhs have their ethnic enclave centered on Aksay Kazakh Autonomous County (of Dunhuang Prefecture) just across the border of Qinghai Province in the very west of Gansu Province. Nearby Aksay is the Mongol enclave of Subei (County).
Although Delingha is now part of the trajectory of the popular 'Tibet Express' railway from Xining to Lhasa, there is a rather important reason for not visiting the Town.
Zhangye, Gansu Province
Wuwei, Gansu Province
Zhongwei, Ningxia AR
Yulin, Shaanxi Province
Taiyuan, Shanxi Province
The Salt of Tibet - as hard as it gets ...
Suffering for a bit of Life-sustaining Salt. Film about Hard Life, Buddhism & traditional jobs in the High Altitude Desert.
Buy it at Movie Universe - Click Here
(Any Foreigner to arrive by train or bus or car will be sent away by Police Authorities on the next available transport out.)
Delinghua is the home of (some) of The Peoples Republic of China's arsenal of Inter-continental ballistic Missiles (ICBM's). Specifically, it is the missile headquarters for Qinghai and one of China's Five 'Strategic Artillery' Brigades, and houses an unknown number of DF-4s (CSS-3) in underground silos. The ICBM Base at Delinghua supposedly has four associated launch sites and is (supposedly) one of five locations (bases) where between 10 and 20 updated versions of DF-4s were deployed in 1998 AD. In 2009 US Air Force Intelligence reported that under 15 DF-31A (CSS-9) missiles had been deployed within China, the majority of which may well have been located at the Delingha Base within Silo's or on an 8 axle 'TEL'-vehicle.
There is also some evidence that nuclear testing has been conducted in this region (although the first tested was conducted in the desert of western Inner-Mongolia near Jiuquan and Jiayuguan and the main nuclear test site was at Lop Nor in current day Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region).
Read More on the DF-4 and China's Nuclear and Balistic Missile Development in: Jiuquan Report (Gansu Province) and 'History of Jiuquan').

If you are keen on wild landscapes at their most pristine, avoid the industrial regions. Those interested in the nomadic peoples, or some mountaineering best come prepared before operating within the north-western regions. Four by Four
Delingha Dongfeng-4 ICBM Launch base
Jiuquan Space Launch Center & Missile Test Facility
Although recently some settlements have sprung up in the North-western regions of today's Qinghai Province, the only worthwhile City to visit is Golmud. Golmud is mainly a drab industrial town which economically relies on the railway, and the increasingly important industry of mining of rare elements, which are found in abundance across Tibet, the Tibetan High Plateaux, and Qinghai (Amdo).
With its connections recently upgraded by ways of the 'Tibet Express', the direct connection between Lanzhou, Xining, Golmud and then Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as the enlargement of its airfield, Golmud is seeing a (relative) economic boom.
Mind you, the entire region is rated dramatically poor, however the mining industry around Golmud in the Qaidam basin grows larger every year. Unfortunatly, the jobs provided by such mining activities mainly require skilled laborers and are also of huge strategic importance. The majority of the better jobs therefor end up being performed by ethnic Han immigrants from the Chinese Heartlands who are happy to fill an important post, eventhough it means moving to what is almost 'the end of the world'.
Schematic overview of China's defense network and military bases. Although most armies and fighter bases are found near Cities, the nuclear bases are all located in remote locations.
Wuzhai Space Launch Center & Missile Test Facility
Lop Nor Nuclear Testing Ground
Taihang Mountain Secret Missile Facilities
From the Base North of Delingha the DF-21 is in striking range of northern India including the National Capital of  New Delhi. The missiles can also strike three Russian ICBM fields and an important strategic bomber base.
Above: A previous model of the DF-21 8 axled Transporter Erector & Launch vehicle.
- Landmarks & Monuments of Xining and Xining wider Regions
- Landmarks & Monuments of South-West Qinghai Province
- Landmarks & Monuments of North-West Qinghai Province
vehicles are a very good idea.
The only other inhabitants of this
barren region were the members of Camel Caravans who were 'responsible' for communications,transport and trade throughout the Tibetan Plateaux (and beyond).
Apart from people and information the caravans carried the mined Jades and Salts the Tibetan Regions were famous for to their trading points. On their returns they carried yet other goods back into the Tibetan Mountains for use there.
The Camel caravans assembled at various points along the route, with the Last assembly point on the way to Amdo, Nagqu and Lhasa at a location which was known as Tsaidam.
Today, after railways were pulled through this far by the late 1970's, Da Qaidam has grown into what is only a small railroad stop-over and railway exchange point between the two main railway lines leading North to South across the high altitude plains. The rough edged Men of the Caravans, Jade Mines and Salt works have become sometimes equally rough industrial workers. Today's jobs are in mining and oil.

The conclusion therefor is that if there is anything to see in North-Western Qinghai Province (Amdo), it must be the stunning and unusual landscape. There are many small salt lakes, high snow-covered peaks in any direction and of course the rare plants and species of the Tundra. Depending on the Time of year, weather can be fare, or extremely wild and unpredictable. Do not travel in the 5Th Month (of the Lunar Calendar) as this is the Monsoon season with especially heavy rains.
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