Heavenly Lake is situated in north side of Bogda Peak of Tianshan Mountains, 40-odd km in the east of Fukang County, and 110 km away from Urumqi City. Heaven's Lake (Tianchi) is arguably one of the nicest spots in all of China. The huge clear water lake, the pine trees covering the hillsides and the snow capped mountains in the background make this a spectacular sight- reminiscent of Switzerland or the Rocky mountains but somehow with more vibrancy and color.
The name "Tianchi Lake" was named by Mingliang in 1783, the Qing Dynasty Commander of Urumqi Command. The lake surface of Tianchi Lake is over 1900 m above sea level, more than 3 km long from south to north, 1500-odd m from east to west, and covers an area of 49 sq.km., 105 m deep at the deepest point, and the lake holds 160 million stere water. It offers some excellent walking and horseriding with breathtaking views. This spot is particularly refreshing for those arriving in Urumuqi from the barren deserts elsewhere in Xinjiang or from one of China's numerous granite cities.
Heavenly Lake is an alpine drift lake shaped in the Quaternary Glacier period. Northern bank of the lake is a natural dike that is a moraine ridge. Heavenly Lake is a world famous alpine drift lake, which was listed by the State as one of the key scenic spots in 1982. The Heavenly Lake scenic area can be divided into four natural view belts: lower mountain belt, mountain coniferous forest belt, alpine and subalpine belt, and ice and snow belt. Riding a horse, one can, within one day, arrive at the foot of 5445-m high Bogda Peak that is the highest peak of the eastern Tianshan Mountains.
Bogda is a Mongolian word, meaning "God". The 5445-m high Bogda Peak was covered by ice and snow all the year round and thus like wearing a body armor, so ancient Mongolians thought that this was "God" and named it "Bogda". The Bogda Peak is one of the mountain peaks chosen by Chinese and foreign mountain climbers for climbing sports.
Buddhists visit this spot to praise the God of Mercy, Kazakh families set up camp here between May and September, and tourists visit the area in their hundreds. All this, surprisingly enough, does not spoil the area. One of the most pleasant aspects about exploring here is just being able to wander the lake and mountains at your own pace. This is a vast area and, despite the crowds, it is easy to lose yourself and there are no restrictions about where you can go.
The Kazakhs bring their entire house, home and family with them when they set up base here. There are hundreds of Yurts built around the shores and slopes, surrounded by goats, sheep and horses. Kashmere goats and sheep are the main source of income for these people followed by tourism. Many will offer horse back tours of the hillside and accommodation in their homes for a small fee. This is a great experience, and a fun way to get a glimpse of the lifestyle of these people. Yurts are made from hide or canvas stretched over a wooden frame. The interiors are wonderfully colorful, with handmade rugs and tapestries adorning the walls.
You MUST spend at least a day here, and staying the night in the Yurts or at the more up-market Shui Xin Hotel is good fun. The evening and early morning here are comparatively peaceful. There are numerous small restaurants along the western shore serving good simple dishes.
A gargantuan glacier, 100 meters thick and 500 meters wide lies at the peaks of the Tianshan mountain range, surrounded by ice caves and valleys. This is the source of the Urumqi River, and although it is too COLD up here for many travellers, this area is one of the most important in the world in terms of research and development.
China tours inclusive of visiting Heavenly Lake, Urumqi