Karez Well is known as one of the three greatest ancient construction projects in China (the other two are the Great Wall and the Grand Canal).
This unique ancient irrigation system is located in Turpan of Xinjiang, which probably is the hottest place in China, and the total length of the underground channels reaches incredible 5,000 km. (3,100 mi.).
Enjoying a long history of more than 2,000 years, Karez Well systems are still maintained and functioning today. It is regarded as the source of life for the oasis.
In 2006, the well was listed as a key cultural site under national protection by the State Council. For those who are interested in Silk Road Tours and want to explore the mysterious culture of ancient civilizations in Xijiang, Karez Well is definitely a sight not to be missed.
Karez Well is made according to Turpan's geographic conditions and the water evaporation traits. It completely takes advantage of the natural gravity of the slope, which avoids getting polluted and needs no other power equipment.
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The water source of Karez comes from the melting snow on the Tianshan Mountain. Each Karez well is made up of four parts: the open channel, the closed channel, the vertical well and the small reservoir. This sophisticated system channels underground water to the surface to irrigate the vast expanse of farmlands.
The oldest Karez well is called Tu'erkan'erzi which lies in Zhuangzi Village of Turpan.
The total length of this well amounts to 3.5 km. (2.2 mi.) and is able to irrigate 20 mu (1.3 ha.) of farmlands per day. It has been in use for more than 470 years.
However, the most reputed well is built by a Uyghur man called Miyimu·a'ji and the well is therefore named after him. This well is 5 km. (3.1 mi.) long and can be as deep as 80 m. (262 ft.). It has the capacity to provide water for 70 mu (4.7 ha.) of farmlands.
Once you are there, you can not only appreciate the ancient irrigation system, but also have the chance to see the special views formed in this Well and find a perfect escape from the intense heat in summer.
A small museum, which is situated in Turpan city, provides an insight into their intriguing history and construction, and takes you below ground for a first-hand view of the Karez Well.