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Karez Well

Karez Well is a kind of underground water works invented and built by laboring people of various ethnic groups in China to adapt to the natural environment in dry region. In Xinjiang, Karez Wells are mainly in Hami, Turpan and Mori, but they are most in Turpan Basin, where there are altogether 1100-odd Karez wells and have the total length of over 5000 km. It's the site the local people are most pround of and rightfully so- the irrigation method is probably their greatest contribution to desert dwellers and has been employed as far away as Afghanistan and Iran. Some people hold the view that Karez Wells of Xinjiang, the Great Wall and Canal constitute three Ancient Chinese Works.

Karez Well

Karez Well systems are the crystallization of ancient people's diligence and intelligence. Generally, a karez is 3 km (1.9 miles) with the longest being 20 to 30 km (12-19 miles) with several dozen vertical wells. Sometimes the number of vertical wells exceeds 300. Until today, the shortest karez found is only 30 meters (98 feet) long. At its peak, the karez irrigation system exceeded 5,000 km (3,106 miles) and is also referred to as 'the underground Great Wall'. It is among the three ancient major irrigation projects with the other two being Ling Canal and Dujiangyan Irrigation Project.

More than 2,000 years ago, it was developed as a way to bring the snowmelt waters of Tianshan to the city through a serious of wells dug into underground water channels. By Karez Welltransporting the water underground, they were able to prevent evaporation and to keep dust and dirt out of their water supply. The word "Karez" means well. Karez Well is composed of four parts: vertical hole, underground channel, aboveground channel and water storage dam.

The water source of the Karez Well is the melting snow from the Tianshan Mountain. Water is collected by vertical wells and conducted by the underground canals to the oasis, where the water is held in the ground canals for irrigation. The vertical wells near the water source may be 100 meters (328 feet) deep while further downstream they are less than 10 meters (32.8 feet) deep.

Karez Well systems also functions as the natural air conditioner for the locals where they can sit in while chatting or doing some chores. Karez systems are the life source of Turpan. In a sense, without the karez, there would be no Turpan culture. Currently there are still over 400 systems.


Karez Well Tour

During the tour to Turpan, if time allows, just pay a visit to this old well. Although not very famous, Karez Well is regarded as the cradle of Turpan culture.