Heicheng Ruins in Ejina Qi, Inner Mongolia

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Heicheng Ruins (黑城遗址) has multiple names – Heishui City Ruins, Black City Ruins, Black Water City Ruins, the formerly Khar Khot (Mongolian) and Eji Nai City (Tangut language).

Heicheng Ruins is located 35km southeast of Dalaihubu Town, Ejina Banner (Qi) in Alxa (Alashan) League, in the west of Inner Mongolia. It is an ancient fortress that was first built in 1032 and later became a trade center of Tangut Empire (1038 – 1227). The current Ejina is named after the Eji Nai City (Black Water City) in Tangut language.

The Heicheng City was an important northern fortress on the northwest of the former Tangut Empire. Now It lies on the arid desert bank of the lower reaches of Heishui River, the largest existent fortress along the ancient Silk Road.

The walled military town was first attacked and taken by Genghis Khan in 1226. The ancient town continued to develop and flourish under Mongol Empire. In Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368), the city was expanded.

In 1372, the last general of Yuan Dynasty named Khara Bator was surrounded to the armies of Ming Dynasty ( 1368 1644). After the defeat, the city was abandoned and left in ruins.

Heicheng Ruins is now a major Historical and Cultural Site protected at the National Level, a tourist destination in Ejina Qi. Basically a visit to Heicheng Ruins is often combined with a visit to “Guaishulin” – the Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest.

To visit Heicheng Ruins, you may first go to the main entrance to Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins Scenic Area (黑城怪树林景区), 28km southwest of Dalaihubu Town, where you line up for the shuttle bus that brings you to the Heicheng Ruins, 15km to the northeast of Guaishulin (Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest and 35km southeast of Dalaihubu Town. We suggest you first go visit Heicheng Ruins, then come back for viewing Guaishulin ( Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest).

If you are going to visit the West Inner Mongolia on your Inner Mongolia Tour, Heicheng Ruins is an interesting draw you should not miss, especially if you are interested in Chinese history.

Now follow me to have a glimpse of Heicheng Ruins. First go from Dalaihubu Town to the main entrance to a combined two-site area of Guaishulin and Heicheng Ruins. Take the shuttle bus to visit Heicheng Ruins first, 15 km to the northeast of the entrance. By the entrance is Guaishulin – Dead Euphrates Poplar Forest.

Line up for the shuttle bus that brings you to Heicheng Ruins, 15km to the northeast of the entrance.

Line up for the shuttle bus

Line up for the shuttle bus

Get off at the shuttle bus, you need to walk another 15 minutes before you get close to the ruined city. The ancient fortress is exposed on the wild, arid desert, you should be well armed to protect yourself against the scorching sun, wearing sun glasses, sun creams, umbrella and scarf. A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site stands on the way to the city.

A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site

A signboard carved in stone with the name of the site

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city. You are kindly reminded to be ready for hats, sun glassed, sun cream against the hot weather.

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

Still a 15-minute walk from the bus station to the site of the ancient city

The old fortress is rectangle in shape with two gates on the west and east. The outer wall has a perimeter of 1600 meters, east to west 434 meters, north to south 384 and 10 meters in height. On the northwest of the corner wall, there are several Buddhist Pagoda atop the wall. Inside the wall, you still can discern the original houses, offices, streets and so on.

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides, threatening to cover the whole city.

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides

The outer wall is surrounded by the desert on all sides

We enter the outer wall of the city through its west gate which includes an inner city. A wooden path is set up on the major area within the rammed city wall. You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside.

You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside

You may walk along the board walks to visit the major areas inside

On the northwest corner, several pagodas atop the wall.

several pagodas atop the wall.

several pagodas atop the wall.

Walking within rammed city of Heicheng, people are feeling the history. Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

Some houses, offices and streets are still clearly discerned.

Add on

Sunset over Guaishulin
Euphrates Poplar Forests at Ejina Qi

 

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2 Responses to “Heicheng Ruins in Ejina Qi, Inner Mongolia”

  1. Kerrie says:

    Hi. Do foreigners still need a permit to enter this area? If so, how do I apply for one?

  2. Daniel says:

    Hi Kerrie,

    Yes, you still need to apply for a permit to enter the area. The permit takes about 15 working days. You need to send to a reavel agency your copies of your passport and your entry and exit dates to apply for a permit.

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