Tianchi - Emerald Lake in Urumqi

Lake Tianchi - a “pearl” of Heaven Mountains

Urumqi is a unique town in its own. It is the largest city, the most distant from the coast. From one side Urumqi borders on the famous Wind Valley, on the other one it is surrounded by the Tien Shan Mountains, with green pastures and valleys occupying its foothills. It is there where the famous Lake Tianchi, a “pearl” of Heaven Mountains (Tian Shan) is located.

The lake is located 110 km from the city at a height of 2,000 meters, in front of Bagdi-Ulo ridge. It has a crescent shape and its length is 3,400 meters, and maximum depth is105 m. The water flows into the lake from the mountain glaciers of the Tien Shan Mountains, so it is crystal clear and even drinkable. On sunny days, the water in Lake Tianchi shines like the brightest emerald or like the jade that is more familiar for Xinjiang people, so for a long time, the lake was known as Yaochi “Jade Lake”.

Tianchi Lake in the vicinity of Urumqi
Tianchi Lake in the vicinity of Urumqi
Tianchi Lake in the vicinity of Urumqi

Lake Tianchi is associated with many legends. It has been known since the Middle Ages, when trade routes of the Silk Road ran near it. The local residents and caravan drivers were passing from generation to generation, a legend that the lake was a place of rest of the Taoist goddess of immortality Xi Wan Mu. The ancient legend has it that on the shores of Lake Jade, there is a tree of immortality, planted personally by Great Goddess.

Lake Tianchi is not only one of the main attractions of Urumqi, but a holiday destination for the local residents and tourists in the hottest summer days. The lake lies, surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. The slopes of surrounding Tianchi Mountains are covered with forests and flowery meadows, while their forbidding peaks are shrouded in glaciers.

Perfect temperature holds in the clearest summer days, when you can not only enjoy all the wonders of nature, but also fish, climb on some slopes to admire the picturesque small meadows strewn with all sorts of flowers. Also at the lakeside there are a few yurts of local residents where you can spend a night and enjoy the beauty of Lake Tianchi against the starry sky, with a myriad of stars reflected in the mirrored surface of the Jade Lake.