“Narat” in Monglian literally means “The place where sunshine first appears”. The “place” is now Narat Grassland in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Xinjiang China. There is a story behind how the word “Narat” was coined. Gengkis Khan’s troop led by his second son Changatai (1185–1241) marched westward trying to cross the Ili Vlley in the hinterland of Tianshan Mountain. In the mountains and Ili Valley in Tianshan, the weather was terrible and detrimental with big snow. Cold and tired, the soldiers were reluctant to go further. Then suddenly they found a beautiful area, sunny, fertile at the present grassland where Narat Grassland is located. The soldiers shouted ” Narat, Narat’ which means the sun is coming here! Later the term “Narat” was adopted by local Kazakhs.
Narat Grassland is about 180km long from east to west along the river bed sandwiched by the mountains of Tianshan in three sides, the east section of Ili valley. The famous Ili River zigzags through Ili Valley. Ili River is formed by its principal three tributaries - Kashi, Kunes, and Tekes. Kunes River is the upper reaches of Ili River, passing through the river bed of Narat Grassland.
Narat Grassland is a typical river bed grassland and the alpine meadows. Narat Grassland is located at the sea-level of 1800 meters. It is inhabitated by Kazakh minority (but ironically, here in Narat Grassland, we, Han people are the minority.
Under the river bed grassland at Narat is the fertile black soil, which make the grass grow bere. It is said the grass can be grown as high as 70-90 cm in Sepetmber. In winter it is very cold on the river bed, reaching over - 40 degree below.
Kunes River cuts through Narat Grassland from east to west.
Narat Grassland is a river bed grassland. See the cobblestones under the lush grass.
The horse trace shows the black and fetile earth under the grass
The most beautiful gully in Narat Grassland – Snow-capped peaks, Alpine trees, Alpine meadow and uplands
The river bed grassland in Narat
Meadow and River bed grassland
A paradise for cattle
Narat Grassland at Dusk