Visit Guide to Shipton’s Arch

Shipton’s Arch, also known as the Heavenly Gate, is a massive natural rock arch situated in the Pamir Mountains near the border between Xinjiang and Tajikistan. With a height of around 200 metres and a span of about 70 metres, it stands as one of the world’s largest natural arches. Formed through millions of years of geological processes involving erosion and tectonic movements, this remarkable landmark is the work of powerful natural forces over millennia.

Getting There

Due to the remote and rugged nature of the area, it is best to hire a local guide or join a tour to reach Shipton’s Arch. These can provide transportation and expertise, and ensure a safe trip, as well as obtaining any permits needed to access this part of Xinjiang.

What to Expect

Visitors to Shipton’s Arch mainly come to marvel at its grandeur and surrounding rugged cliffs, deep canyons and opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities. Wildlife enthusiasts can also spot rare species like snow leopards, ibex and golden eagles.


The arch is named after the British mountaineer Eric Shipton, who is credited with its discovery during an expedition in the 1940s. However, local Uyghur and Tajik communities have long revered the arch and it holds spiritual significance for the local communities, who consider it a sacred and mystical place.

According to folklore, it is believed to be a heavenly gate or portal, where the gods would descend to the Earth. The naming of the arch after Eric Shipton is a tribute to his contribution to documenting the region’s remote and rugged landscapes, which helped put Shipton’s Arch on international maps.