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Kazakh expedition sets out to China

25 july 2014, 18:21
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© Tengrinews
© Tengrinews

Expedition Following Shoqan Walikhanov’s Caravan Route has set out. It is dedicated to the 180th anniversary of the birth of the great Kazakh scholar and traveler Shoqan Walikhanov, Tengrinews reports.

The group led by geographer Ordenbek Mazbayev flew from Almaty and Astana to Urumqi in China on 24 July. A Tengrinews journalist and an STV channel cameraman are among the participants.

Shoqan Walikhanov was a son of a Sultan and a staunch proponent of Westernization. He rose to prominence in the academic circles of the Russian Empire after his famous expedition to Kashgaria. Walikhanov is regarded as the father of modern Kazakh historiography and ethnography.

His steps in Kashgaria are now, 155 years later, being repeated by the team of Kazakh geographers, historians, biologists, ethnographers and linguists in the expedition under the aegis of the Kazakhstan National Geographic Society.


Kashgar ©AFP

The expedition will last for 12 days and cover six thousand kilometres across the territory in China and Kyrgyzstan along the Great Silk Road. The exact route is Urumqi - Karashakhar - Korla - Kuchar - Aksu - Kashgar - Artush - Yangisar - Yarkand - Kagalyk - Hotan - Kashgar - Turagat – Naryn - Tash-Rabat - Bishkek.

Iminov Smaylzhian, scientific advisor of the expedition, said that the expedition has both scientific and tourist objectives. On the one hand, the group will be able to explore the places that Walikhanov visited and compare the ancient descriptions to the modern state of things. On the other hand, they will evaluate the area's potential and gather information to make informed decisions on development of tourist routes in the region.


Smaylzhan Iminov © Roza Yessenkulova

“This is an amazing land. A wrote a book after my previous expedition,” Iminov shared. “Central Asia is rich in interesting sites, and we want tourists from all over the world to come to Kazakhstan and visit this route - walk in the footsteps of Shokan Walihanov.”

Kashgaria was of interest to many scientists. Marco Polo, Nikolay Przhevalsky Carl Mannerheim, Pyotr Kozlov, Aurel Stein, Sven Hedin, Gunnar Jarring and George de Roerich were among them.

Walikhanov ventured onto traveling Kashgaria at the age of 22. He lived there for almost six months and gathered invaluable information on the nature, people and customs of the region. But, as experts note, many of the secrets of his expedition are yet to be uncovered.


Portrait of Walikhanov

The current expedition to Kashgaria is focusing primarily on Walikhanov’s route. The materials will be used to make a book-album and a film. These materials will also help in the tourist project called “Golden Ring of Central Asia” that would connect the tourist routes of Central Asian countries and China.

By Dinara Urazova


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