Aksu lies on the northwest edge of the Taklamakan Desert on the upper reaches of the Tarim River. The name Aksu means “city of white water” in the Uyghur language, and the city was an important stop along the ancient Silk Road. It is the homeland of the ancient Buddhist Kucha and Duolang cultures and has been nicknamed the “Jiangnan of Outer China” because of its scenic beauty. The area is an important source of grain and cotton. It is also known in China and abroad for its specialty products of Chinese dates (jujubes), walnuts, Fuji apples, apricots, Xinjiang fragrant pears, grapes, and Hami melon. It is well-known for its delicious melons. Famous attractions include the Tianshan Shenmi Grand Canyon (天山神秘大峡谷 - “Heavenly Mountain Mysterious Grand Canyon”), the Tianshan Numinous Wood Garden, and Tianshan Tuomu'er Peak (天山托木尔峰).