Ili River and the Cultural Heritage

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The Ili River is located in north eastern part of China as well as south eastern part of Kazakhstan. In China, it is under Ili Kazakh autonomous prefecture while in Kazakhstan, it is in Almaty province. The length of Ili River is one thousand four hundred and thirty nine kilometres out of which eight hundred and fifteen kilometres flows in Kazakhstan. This river takes its start at eastern side of Tian Shan from Hunges and Tekes rivers. It drains its basin amidst the Borohoro and Tian Shan mountains towards north. When it flows to Balkhash Lake, this river will form a huge delta and has extensive wetland areas of marshes, thicket vegetation and lakes.


Name resembles the geographical shape:

The name of this river was seen in Turkish dictionaries earlier. It was believed that Turkish tribes such as Chiglig, Yaghma and Tokshi lived at the banks of Ili River. Turkish nations consider this river as their Amu Darya or Jayhoun. It is suspected that the name of river originated for Il, a Uyghur word that refers to Hook in English language. It resembles the geographical shape of Ili River.

Herds of horses and goats

The river drainage basin of Ili as well as its chief tributaries such as Tekes, Kunes and Kax Rivers is much mountainous and rugged. The mountain systems at this location have their axes running almost in west east direction. Inside the frontier of China, the Ili river valley does broaden out a lot and form a very fertile plane near Kuldja or Yining. The river in fact flows to Kazakhstan westward. When compared to major portion of the Chinese central Asia, it is seen that this river valley is much wet. It possesses a huge farming population who are well settled. They are engaged predominately in the wheat cultivation. The uplands of river support huge numbers of horses, goats and sheep.

Lush meadows and ethnic people

Ili valley which is situated in north western Xinjiang is endowed with breathtaking natural beauty, pleasant weather and bright ethic customs. These are loved by millions of travellers visiting Ili every year. For all these special features, Ili River and its river valley has turned to be a very famous tourist destination in Xinjiang. The Ili river valley is in fact home to approximately twenty ethic groups. Each ethnic group possesses its own unique folk customs as well as lifestyle. A good spot where one can experience the distinct characteristics of diverse ethnic people in Xinjiang is bazaars located in Yining city, which is political cum economical centre of the Ili valley area.

The banks of River Ili provide a magnificent vantage point to see the verdant forests and snow caped mountain peaks. The huge Ili Bridge is famous location to observe and film the setting sun. This place remains as a favourite spot for several photographers. It takes only two hours by bus to reach well known Sayram Lake from Ili Bridge.

Travel Tips

The best time to visit Ili River is in summer and autumn. The climate is so lovely. Train and bus services are available from Xinjiang to Ili River. There are several attractions near Ili River. Never Miss it!

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