Local names for the ranges include: 天山 (Chinese; pinyin: Tiān Shān; Wade–Giles: T'ien1 Shan1; literally "Celestial Mountains"), Хан Тәңірі (Kazakh; Khan Tengri; literally "Empyrean God"/"Heavenly Mountains"), Теңир-Тоо (Kyrgyz; Tengri-Too; literally "Heavenly Mountains"/"God's Mountains"/"Mountains of Tengri"), Тэнгэр уул (Mongolian; "Tenger Uul";"Heavenly Mountains") and تەڭرى تاغ (Uyghur; Tengri Tagh).
The Chinese name for Tian Shan may be derived from the Xiongnu language name Qilian (Tsilien; Chinese: 祁连), which was described by Sima Qian in the Records of the Grand Historian as the homeland of the pre-Xiongnu peoples of the region, the Yuezhi, and has been said to refer to the Tian Shan rather than to the range 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) further east now known by this name. The nearby Tannu-Ola Mountains (Tuvan: Таңды-Уула Tangdy-Uula) bear the same name ("heaven/celestial mountains" or "god/spirit mountains").
Torugart Pass (simplified Chinese: 图噜噶尔特山口; traditional Chinese: 圖嚕噶爾特山口; pinyin: túlūgáĕrtè shānkŏu; Kyrgyz: Торугарт; Russian: Перевал Торугарт) is a pass in the Tian Shan mountain range on the border between the Naryn Province of Kyrgyzstan and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China.
The scenic Lake of Chatyr-Kul lies near the pass on the Kyrgyz side. The road to Naryn and then to Balykshy and Bishkek—stretching for some 400 km (250 mi)—is narrow and in winter often impassable due to heavy snowfall and frequent avalanches. On the Chinese side, the Torugart Port of Entry (吐尔尕特口岸), where travelers must clear for customs, is located about 110 km (68 mi) from the pass itself in Ulugqat County of the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture. Distances from the pass to major cities are: 110 km (68 mi) to Ulugqat, 165 km (103 mi) to Kashgar, 170 kilometres (110 mi) to Artux and some 1,630 km (1,010 mi) to Urumqi.