Yinchuan Travel Guide
Yinchuan, the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, is an often-overlooked city that is irrigated by the mighty Yellow River amidst the arid landscape of China's dry northwest.The thin Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in China's stark northwest is surrounded byGansu in the south and Inner Mongolia tothe north. 20% of China's Hui Muslimminority lives in this region, giving Ningxiathe nickname "the Muslim Region." The Huiminority originated from the Silk Road,which brought Central Asian traders toChina during the Tang dynasty andsucceeding waves of migration enriched andenlarged this population.
Recently Yinchuan has been divided into three quarters linked by a 25km road, though locals refer to the city as if it's divided into two. The western section is the new city while the eastern quarter is the old city. The new city is where the train station is located, but the majority of sights and hotels are located in the old city in the east. Though most people use Yinchuan as a transit point for further adventures into Inner Mongolia, the city has enough personality and interesting sights to hold its own.
Making up 28% of the city's population, the Hui influence throughout the city is obvious. Whether it's the Arabic domes of the city mosque rising above the low skyline or the smell of roasted lamb wafting through the market stalls, there's no mistake that Yinchuan's heritage is as much Central Asian as Chinese. The old city still manages to retain a sleepy pace with old men wearing their white skullcaps sporting long wispy beards sipping tea along the sides of the road.
The laidback city with its tree-lined streets, it's melding of Hui and Han ethnic culture belies the chaotic history of the region. Once a region of various feuding kingdoms offering nominal loyalty to the Tang then Song dynasties, the area came under the powerful rule of the Western Xia kingdom from AD 1032 to 1227. Lead by Li Yuanhao, an ethnic Turgut, he established the Western Xia as a regional power in the northwest that developed its own distinct writing and culture. Unfortunately Genghis Khan, who initially sought the kingdom as an ally, didn't take rejection with grace. To his chagrin, his attempts at invasion were repelled six times, with the final campaign proving fatal. He did survive long enough to give the final order to raze the kingdom.
Strolling through the pyramid-shaped tumuli at theWestern Xia Imperial Tombs. The tombs are eerie when there™s no one around and the wind begins to blow, sweeping sand around the desolate site.
Climbing Helan Shan for a spectacular view of the surrounding desert. The sand dunes, the eroded rock formations and the ancient petroglyphs all add to the beauty and historical significance of the area.