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Home Travel in Xinjiang Aydingkol Lake
Aydingkol Lake
Travel in Xinjiang

Aydingkol Lake
Aydingkol Lake
(ài dīng hú 艾丁湖), located approximately 50 kilometers(about 31 miles)southeast of Turpan City (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番), is at the bottom of the deepest depression in China's land mass, known as Turpan Pendi. The lake covers an area of 22 kilometers (about nine square miles) and measures 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from west to east, eight kilometers (about five miles) from north to south. .This lake is the lowest lake in China and the second lowest lake in the world (second only to the Dead Sea) at 154m below sea level.

It has a long history going back about 250 million years. The raising of the Himalayas about 200 millions years ago created the lake. Ten thousand years ago it was a freshwater lake and was 1,000 times larger than its current size. Natural forces affected its elevation and once it became land locked so mineral deposits began to accumulate. During the winter of 1948, the lake basin was once filled with freshwater, which primarily originated from melted snow water from the mountains, as well as supplementary groundwater; owing to the lesser use of water to irrigate cultivated land during the winter, the water level was higher. During the summertime, the water level declined as a result of increased use of irrigation water for farming, as well as significant natural evaporation. Due to the expansion of farming in the region, the population using water from the lake subsequently increased, and coupled with the effects of global warming, by 1958 the lake only held up to 22 square kilometres, with a water depth of about 0.8 metres. In 2000, except for the southwest region, little lakewater remains. Because of the increase in population and a lowering of the water table, the lake only covers an area of 22 sq km (about 5,436 acres) now.

Aydingkol Lake conprises three parts. The outer area is salt flats, and due to severe evaporation, the ground is rock hard. The middle area is a salt marsh full of silts. The inner area consists of brackish water and crystal salt. In ancient times, Ayding Lake was known as Jueluowan (jiào luò huàn 觉洛浣). The Uyghur derived name Aydingköl means "moon lake" because of the reflective nature of the salt crystals.

Now the lake is a salt puddle. The lake is highly mineralized and contains rock salt, Glauber's salt, glauberite, gypsum, etc. The reserves of salt and Glauber's salt exceed 300 million tons, an important source of raw materials to chemical industries. There is now a chemical plant on the lake front. Due to the high concentrations of salt in the lakebed, neither fish nor bird will be found around the area of the lake.

Aydingkol LakeWith the beautiful wilderness area and the peculiar geographical surroundings, the Aydingkol Lake attracts many foreign and local tourists to see the splendid vivid reds, greens, yellows and purples presented by the many plants that thrive here such as reeds, tamarisks and the many other shrubs and plants. There are also several Han Dynasty (hàn cháo 汉朝) beacon towers overlooking this beautiful scene.

Admission Fee : CNY 10
Opening Hours : 8:00--16:00
Best Time to visit: July to September
Traffic : You can hire a minibus for the day and take in a few of the sights around the area.