Backgrounds o/t Tarim River Basin and Taklamakan Desert :
This page was last updated on: May 24, 2017
This Satellite Image Map gives an of the Tarim River Flow Area and the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region (and Gansu province) of North & Western China during a Spring Sand Storm. Scroll Up & Down, left and right to view the Entire Tarim River Flow, the Sands of the Taklamakan Desert and surrounding Mountain Ranges, which contribute for a large part to the local Climate, upwelling Oasis, Fast Running Rivers and Dry Desert conditions.
In Counter-clockwise direction The Taklamakan Desert and Tarim River Basin are bordered in the North by the Mighty Tian Shan Mountain Range on the other side of which lie Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Upwind in the West lie the Pamir High Mountains and Mountain Plateaux, and the high mountain gateway into wild Afghanistan. In the South-West the River Basin and Desert are bordered by the Karakoram Range, an extension of the Himalayas and among the highest mountains in the world. On the other side lies
The China Report
Introduction to Satellite Map o/t Tarim River Basin and Taklamakan Desert -2A
Kashgar River
Former Marshes
<- Kheria
(Dry) River
<- Khotan
XinJiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Qinghai Province at
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Karakoram Mt. Range
Taklamakan Desert
Turpan, Turpan Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region.
(Ku) Loulan - Lost City Ruins
Tumushuke, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Urumqi, Urumqi Prefecture, Capital of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
The Taklamakan Desert is enclosed by Mountain Ranges in 3 directions, limiting its Sand Flows to the Tarim River Basin and Area's West and Down-wind in Gansu Province.
The Tarim River source is found in the Pamir Mountains in the extreme West of the Basin and this Image as the Kashgar River. It then flows past Kashgar, to turn North and East and flow along the North Rim of the Basin underneath the Tian Shan Mountains. Here the Aksu River joins up from the North, creating the 5Th Largest River in China (P.R.C.). The River Tarim follows the northern rim to end up in the North-East Corner of Lop Nur, where the Lost City Ruins of Loulan (Shanshan) are located.
Today Lop Nur is a dried empty Salt Bed of the former Lake. Earlier in history, in the 200 BC to 1000 AD Era Lop Nur was a large lake with adjoining marsh area's rich in fish and game. It hosted a rich and powerful Kingdom located strategically on the Chinese Section of the Silk Road. Loulan lasted, as a Chinese Protectorate through
Gansu ->
Gobi -> Desert
Chinese Kashmir
Tibet Autonomous Region
XinJiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Kashgar, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Keriya Village, Khotan Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur
Pamir Mts + Plateaux
(K)Hotan or Hetian, Khotan Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
River ->
Yarkent, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
<- Cherchen
Aksu, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Tarim River
Gilgut, Pakistan
Niya (Minfeng) Village, Khotan Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur
X Mustagh Pass
X Karakoram Pass
Altyn Tagh Mt. Range
River ->
Hami (Kumul), Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Barkol, Barkul Kazakh Autonomous County, Hami Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Issik kul
Tian Shan
Mountain Range
Altai Mt. Range
Issik-G'Ul, Kyrgyzstan
Prokrovka, Kyrgyzstan
Bystrovka, Kyrgyzstan
Przhevalsk, Kyrgyzstan
Artux, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Tarim River
Tarim River
Tibet-Qinghai Plateux
Bishkek, Capital of Kyrgyzstan
Lake Balkasj
Tian Shan Mt Range
Mountainous North Pakistan. Along the South, the Altyn Tagh Mountain Range provides a natural border with Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Last, in the East lie the remnants of famous Lop Nur, now dry and Salted. Lop Nur was the ending point of the
Tarim River. Beyond this Image, further to the East lie barren lands, Sand Dunes, the Yadan Landforms at the Gansu Province Border, and then the first Gate in the West on the Han Dynasty and later Tang Dynasty Great Wall of China (Yumen Pass) and the Oasis Village of Dunhuang in Western-most Gansu province.
Click to go to Map 1
Map 1 of the Silk Road during the early Tang Dynasty Era. Clearly depicts the North & South Routes West of Dunhuang as well as the lost civilizations of Loulan and Hotan.
the powerul and expansive Tang Dynasty to beyond 1000 AD, after which climate conditions deteriorated. The flow of the Tarim River was changed many times in history, due to the shifting Sands of the Taklamakan Desert. As a result somewhere after 1000 AD Lop Nur slowly dried up and the Loulan Civilization, the Large Lakes, extensive swamps and wildlife were lost to Time (until 1899/1900 AD). Upstream Oasis Cities along the South Tarim River Basin rim suffered similar fates between 1000 AD and Today, although some Villagers and Remnants of Villages remain until this very day.

Today's Taklamakan Desert is even dryer than in the Past. During the heydays of the Han and Tang Dynasties, roughly between 200 BC and 1000 AD the Tarim River Basin supported not only Lop Nur but a string of Rivers along its Northern Rim, as well as its Southern Rim. Hence, the Tarim River Basin became the main route of the Silk Road in China. The Chinese
Silk Road in the Tarim Basin splits in the East at Dunhuang in Gansu province. Here a North Route leads from YuMen Pass, the location of the first Toll House on the (Tang Dynasty) Great Wall of China along the North Rim and the Tarim River westward to Turpan and then on to Kashgar. Similarly, a South Route leaves Dunhuang to Pass through Yan Guan Pass and follow the Southern Rim of the Tarim River Basin through Ruoqiang (Charliq), Cherchen (Qiemo), Niya, Keriya (Mugala), Khotan and Yarkent to connect back up with the North Route at Kashgar in the West.
Former Lop Nor - Lowest Point
Former Marshes
Kunlun Mt. Range
Camel Driver on the Silk Road, China
Tadjik Camel Driver on the Silk Road, China Photographic Print
Su, Keren

Click Image  to go to Full Map !!
China Report - Map o/t Taklamakan Desert & Tarim River Basin 1A
A Clear Sky Satellite Image based Map of the entire Taklamakan Desert and the Tarim River Basin in Xinjiang-Autonomous Region of Western China.
During the Time this Image was taken it was early spring; Mountains were snowcapped and a dust storm is blowing in the Central and Most Arid Regions of the Tarim River Basin.
<- Cherchen
Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture
(Xinjiang AR)
Kunlun Mt. Range
Cherchen, Bayin Gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region
Korla (Kuerle) - Oasis City
Almaty, Kazakhstan
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This page was last updated on: May 24, 2017
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