Silk Road starting from Xi’an, formerly known as Chang’an which was the capital of China from BC 206 to AD 25, then ran westward through Lanzhou and then following westernmost spur of the great wall, through the Hexi corridor to Dunhuang, this oasis town became one of the great Buddhist centers of China from the fourth century to the tenth.
Near Dunhuang, the desert routes split. The main northern route followed the Southern edge of the dark, snow-capped TianShan Mountains, running along the north of the Taklamakan desert and passed through the oasis town of Hami, Turpan, korla, kucha and Aksu before reaching Kashgar. This longer route was less direct but less arduous than southern route and came into its own in the late fourth century. The southern route ran through the oases of Charkilik, Cherchen, Niya, Keriya, Hotan and Yarkand and also ended in Kashgar. There was a second, more northerly route that ran to the north of the TianShan mountains from Hami to Almalik , Balasaghun, Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara.