Kashgar (Kashi), former Chinese name was Shule, is situated in the southwest of Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region northwest of China, bordering the Taklamakan desert in the east, the Kunlun Range and Ali prefecture of Xinjiang in the south. Kashgar is the first point of arrival on land routes from Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. For thousands of years, it has been the political, economic, cultural and transportation hub on south of the Tianshan Range, one of the oldest and richest oasis in the Tarim Basin, a very important city on the ancient Silk Road.
Kashgar first came under Chinese rule in the period of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 221). The Han government built an administration office here to rule over the Western Region. The Tang rulers once built the Sule town, which was one of the four most vital fortresses in the area. Romans traded there in the 6th cent when Kashi was the capital of the Uigur Turks (750–840). Visited by Marco Polo in 1275, Kashi was soon after conquered by Jenghiz Khan. It was ruled by hereditary Khojar (Muslim) kings from the 15th to the 17th cent. The city passed definitively to China in 1760, but since then there have been uprisings and periods of contested control.
Kashgar was an important outfitting station on the Silk Road. The flourishing trade route was major factor of Kashgar's rise. The tired trade caravans plodding west on the northern and southern routes met up at Kashgar. Merchants from Central Asia thawed out after descending to Kashgar and exchanged their stolid yaks and exhausted packhorses for camels to convey their merchandise into Inner provinces of China.
Today, Kashgar still is the hub of an important commercial district, the western terminus of the main road of the province, and a center for caravan trade with India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Wheat, corn, cotton, barley, rice, beans, and fruit are grown there. Cotton and wool cloth, rugs, leather ware, and jewelry are manufactured.
Kashgar is a multiracial area, such as Uigur, Han, Tajik, and Kazak and so on. It is China's Muslim center and rich in strong national characteristics of the Uigur people. It used to be an important stop on the centuries-old Silk Road, and trade remains timeless still in this vibrant oasis, when the bustling markets are packed with uniquely dressed Uigurs, ambitious Central Asian traders and veiled Muslim women. Muslim features are visible throughout the city. Mosque towers high up above mud-thatched houses.
The most striking factor of Kashgar is the Turkestan influence visible on the streets and in the homes here. The place feels, looks and even smells dramatically different from the rest of China, more so than any other city in Xinjiang, which is without great surprise considering that 90% of the population is practicing Muslims. Uigur bazaars, tea houses and faces dominate the streets. What's more, this is the only city in Central Asia where the women choose to veil their faces.
Kashgar's importance in the history of Silk Road and its unique culture means that the city has many sights of special interest to offer travelers. Nowadays, despite the modernization and architectural decline, the city features wealthy tourism resources of characteristic landscapes, ethnic minority charm and humanistic sights. Points of interest include the Aidkah Mosque and the Abakh Khoja Tomb, bearing the remains of a 17th-century ruler, and the city's large traditional bazaar, Kashgar Old Town, Idgar Mosque, Ancient Art Street and Stone City.