Ningxia Travel Guide
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Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (called "Ning" for short by the indigenous population; "Ningxia" for short by everyone else) is located north of Gansu Province (Ningxia dips down into Gansu Province, as it were – note that the area of present-day Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was in fact formerly a part of Gansu Province) and west of the northern tip of Shaanxi Province.
The area comprises two main topographic regions: a northern plains that lies along the Yellow River, and a southern plateau which includes the Liupan Mountains. Thanks to the Yellow River, which brings much-neeed irrigation, Ningxia possesses considerable agricultural resources, including extensive grazing lands, and this despite the loess highland composition (loess is a term for 'windblown deposits of fine-grained, calcareous silt and/or clay') that characterizes much of Ningxia's northern plains. But Ningxia is also a region with sizeable coal deposits and considerable natural gas reserves (the Shan Gan Ning Natural Gas Field is one of the largest gas fields in the world). It is also a region with unparalleled tourism resources, thanks to its natural beauty.
The area of present-day Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has not always been populated by the Hui folk, who are Muslims. The area was the heartland of the prehistoric Xia (BCE 2000-1500) Dynasty – the beginning of what is considered the Chinese people. This was partly because of the presence of the Yellow River, the primary transportation route as well as the basis for life (indeed, there is a saying in Chinese: "The Yellow River brings a lot of disasters except in its upper reaches, in Ningxia"), and partly because the area was 'easy to defend and difficult to invade'. Like many other regions of China, Ningxia has seen its share of conflict, including Muslim versus Muslim conflict (Hui versus later-arriving Turkic tribes). For a thorough introduction to the history of Ningxia, click here.
Ningxia's tourism highlights include its natural beauty as well as a number of man-made works. In the Yinchuan area, man-made sightseeing highlights include: Western Xia Mausoleum, located 35 kilometers west of the city of Yinchuan; Baisikou Twin Tower, which dates from the Xia Dynasty; Haibao Tower (North Tower), situated north of the old downtown area of Yinchuan; Chengtian Temple Tower (the West Tower), built in CE 1050; as well as more recent additions such as Drum Tower, Yuhuang Pavilion, Nanguan Mosque, Rock Art Series of Helan Mountain, and Zhenbeibao West Movie Studio.
On Liupan Mountain are also located a great number of sightseeing highlights such as: the Qin (BCE 221-207) Dynasty stretch of the Great Wall, Xumi Mountain Grotto, Liupan Mountain Memorial Pavilion for the Long March, the Long March Monument at Jiangtaibao of Xiji County, and Guyuan Museum. In addition, Jinshui Tourism Zone, a 103 square kilometer area along the Yellow River sharing boundaries with the municipalities of Yinchuan, Lingwu, and Taole, offers both scenic landscapes as well as interesting man-made attractions.
Other sightseeing highlights include: Hengcheng Castle, in the city of Western Xia; the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty stretch of the Great Wall; the Hengcheng Tombs, dating from the Han (BCE 206 – CE 220) Dynasty; Shuidonggou Ruins; Yellow River Sculpture; 108 Towers; Gao Miao Temple; Shikong Temple Grotto; Tongxin Mosque; Najiahu Mosque; and Niushou Temple.
And last but not least, Ningxia is home to the Tengger Desert with its endless expanse of wind-sculpted, yet ever-changing, sand dunes, where the tourist can enjoy a camel safari or a drift-boat ride down the Yellow River, which borders the Tengger Desert, while taking in the incredible beauty of the surrounding terrain.