Jiaohe Ruins locates 10 kilometers west of Turpan in a vally with a length of 1,650 meters from east to west and a width of 300 meters at the widest.
Jiaohe was the capital of the ancient Cheshi State. An Indian proverb says, ‘Intelligence is bound to exist where two rivers meet’. Jiaohe, meaning in Chinese where two rivers meet, is such a place. According to historical records it was home to 700 households, 6500 residents plus 865 soldiers.
Most tourists think that the ruins of the ancient city of Jiaohe are Turpan’s best travel highlight. It is more intact than the nearby ruins of Gaochang, although the cities were built and fell into disuse at about the same times. The people who lived in the area around Gaochang used it as a source for fertilizer, and farmers leveled it for fields. It is one of the best preserved ruins of its ancient era in China, so it will probably be the highlight of a trip to Turpan.
The central avenue, 350-meters long, runs north from South Gate, separating the city into three parts; namely, residences for common people in west part, temples in northwestern part, and residences for aristocrats in east part.
To the west of the avenue, low buildings with sparse small temples were residences for commoners, while the high ones in the east were for aristocrats and troops. At the end of the avenue stands a large well-preserved Buddhist temple, Jiaohe Temple, with an area of 5,000 square meters.
The relics we see today featured Tang Dynasty ( 618-907) architectural style. Houses were dug downward from the earth, and as no house gates faced the streets, military defense was apparently priority.
At the end of the 8 Century, the city was tossed into the reigns of the Turpan, Hui, and Mongols. Residents fled from the destroyed city continuously until in the beginning of the 14 Century, the city was abandoned, as was its glory and prosperity of over 2000 years. Miraculously, owing to the arid climate and remote location, the ancient city of Jiaohe remains intact, leaving us a rare exemplar of an earthen castle.
The best time to visit is between April and October. If you go between July and October, you can enjoy the freshly harvested fruit. One was at the southwestern corner and one was in the east. It is unusual for a city of this size to have only two gates. There may be vestiges of a third gate. On the northwest side, there is a Buddhist monastery and a big tower that is one of the biggest remaining ruins.