Kashgar: Mission Impossible

A day or two from Irkeshtam Pass, Gustaf Mannerheim separated from Paul Pelliot, the legendary French sinologist with whom he was travelling from Osh. The two men did not get along, and a power struggle ensued about who was in charge of the expedition. However, they both stayed at the Russian consulate in Kashgar for more than a month. Mannerheim visited the small community of Swedish missionaries, read through intelligence reports at the consulate and surveyed the city of Kashgar.

A century later, much of Old Kashgar is being destroyed by Chinese redevelopment. The entire Russian consulate has been turned into a light industrial zone. Much of the old city wall has been demolished and the Uyghur quarter too is fast disappearing. I spent an entire day walking around the city, comparing an old British military map of Kashgar from 1906 to the modern city I found.

Route Map

Click on features to view details of the route from Irkeshtam Pass to Kashgar, China.

View Chapter 6: Kashgar in a larger map

Kashgar Map: Then and Now

I superimposed a sketch map of Kashgar prepared by the British consult in 1908 over a Google Earth satellite photo of the city today. As you can see, very little of the old town’s wall remains. The most intact section surrounds the old Manchu fortress to the far left, which today houses Chinese security forces. The old British and Russian consulates were located north of the walled quarter, while the Swedish missionaries were to the southwest. Click on the map (or this link) to view a larger version and the original 1908 British Military Map of Kashgaria.

Stefan Geens, the blogger behind Ogle Earth, has also uploaded the old 1908 map onto Google Earth. Stefan’s map is much more accurate than mine. I’ve posted an image of Stefan’s map below or you can download the Google Earth file yourself to view and interact with it.

Photo Map

Click on the icons to view photos of my walking tour of Old Kashgar, or what’s left of it.



This music video, entitled “Ziyarat,” by Wushur Kari is about the Uyghur singer returning to Kashgar and visiting many of the city’s top sites. The music video poignantly captures the mood and milieu of the ancient oasis.


For more information about Kashgar, check out these links:
Kashgar on Wikipedia
Far West China Blog
Destruction of Old Kashgar – Smithsonian
Kashgar Demolition on Radio Free Asia
Uyghur Human Rights Project