CHERCHEN, a town of East Turkestan, situated at the northern foot of the Altyn-tagh, a range of the Kuen-lun, in 85° 35' E., and on the Cherchen-darya, at an altitude of 4100 ft. It straggles mostly along the irrigation channels that go off from the left side of the river, and in 1900 had a population of about 2000. The Cherchen-darya, which rises in the Arka-tagh, a more southerly range of the Kuen-lun, in 87° E. and 36° 20' N., flows north until it strikes the desert below Cherchen, after which it turns north-east and meanders through a wide bed (300-400 ft.), beset with dense reeds and flanked by older channels. It is probable that anciently it entered the disused channel of the Ettek-tarim, but at present it joins the existing Tarim in the lake of Kara-buran, a sort of lacustrine "ante-room" to the Kara-koshun (N.M. Przhevalsky's Lop-nor). At its entrance into the former lake the Cherchen-darya forms a broad delta. The river is frozen in its lower course for two to three months in the winter. From the foot of the mountains to the oasis of Cherchen it has a fall of nearly 4000 ft., whereas in the 300 m. or so from Cherchen to the Kara-buran the fall is 1400 ft. The total length is 500-600 m., and the drainage basin measures 6000-7000 sq. m.
See Sven Hedin, Scientific Results of a Journey in Central Asia, 1899-1902, vols. i. and ii. (1905-1906); also Takla-Makan.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)