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Heavenly Lake

Situated in the Heavenly Mountain (Tianshan) range, 115 km (71 miles) northeast of Urumqi, Heavenly Lake (Tianchi Lake) is one of the main tourist attractions in China. Used to be known as Yaochi (Jade Lake), the lake is particularly refreshing for those arriving in Urumqi from the barren deserts elsewhere in Xinjiang or from China’s numerous granite cities. It is hemmed in by majestic snow-crowned peaks west of Bogda Mountain and it is geologically a moraine lake 3,400 meters (1,1125 feet) long, 1,500 meters (4920 feet) wide, 1,980 meters (6494 feet) above sea level. Covered firs, pines and cypresses and white snow, it boasts a spectacular sight- reminiscent of Switzerland or the Rocky mountains but somehow with more vibrancy and color. Amidst fields of wild flowers grow morel mushrooms, while peppermint and rhubarb, while higher up the mountain are edelweiss and the rare, creamy Snow Lotus (Saussurea involucrate), which grows from rock crevices and is believed to have magical powers as medical cure.

Tourists usually spend one day, take a boat ride on the lake, ride or walk along the lake shore. The wild and tranquil scene is stunning and pristine. You can also stay in one of the many yurts owned by locals, with a mat on the floor and a bowl of milk in the morning. Buses leave daily from the bus station and the Hongshan Park in Urumqi.

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