Heicheng is the chinese name of Khara Khoto which means "Black city" ,and it lies at the base of Alashan Plateau . Once this was a very important city of the Tangut Empire ( Xia Dinasty ) . After Gengis Khan became a rich mongol trade centre , In 14th century this city was destroyed by Ming's army and it was lost to memory .
Now the only things that remain of Khara Khoto are its outer walls ( which includes the buddhist temple ) battling with the desert's sand which tries to cover everything . Inside the walls there is almost nothnig .
Nevertheless the impression is stunning ! The site seems in the middle of nowhere ( even if it is 30 km. far from the new city of Ejinaqi), completely surrounded by a beautiful real desert and you can easily spend almost 2 hours going around everywhere . The ruins seem forgotten by the world as you can rarely meet anybody . The best time to visit this amazing place is before sunset.
It is not so easy to reach Khara Khoto which is about 400 km. north from Jiayuguan or 400 km. north west from Alxa Youqi . Moreover if you are not chinese you need a special travel permit from the Government as the ruins are close to the Chinese satellite Centre .You can ask for the permit to a local travel agency .
As it is very tiring to go to and from Khara Khoto ( more than 12 hours drive ) , you can pass the night in the nearby town of Ejinaqi where there are some hotels .
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