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History of Tashkurgan



Tashkurgan has a long history as a stop on the Silk Road. Major caravan routes converged here leading to Kashgar in the north, Karghalik to the east, Badakhshan and Wakhan to the west, and Chitral and Hunza to the southwest in Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan.

About 2,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty Tashkurgan was the main centre of the Kingdom of Puli and is mentioned in both the Hanshu and the later Hou Hanshu. Later it became known as Varshadeh. Mentions in the Weil├╝e of the Kingdom of Manli probably also refer to Tashkurgan.

Some scholars believe that a stone tower mentioned in Ptolemy and other early accounts of travel on the Silk Road, refers to this spot. It said by them to have marked the midway point between Europe and China. Other scholars, however, disagree with this identification. The most plausible site is in the Alay Valley.

Many centuries later Tashkurgan became the capital of Sarikol kingdom  a kingdom of the Pamir Mountains, and later of Qiepantuo under the Persians. At the northeast corner of the town is a huge fortress known as the Princess Castle dating from the Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367 CE), and the subject of many colourful local legends. A ruined Zoroastrian temple is located near the fortress