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Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves

 Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Turpan

Located 45 km (28 miles) east of Turpan are the Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves in the western cliffs of the Mutou Vally under the Flaming Mountain. Out of 83 man-made caves or grottos, only 57 are intact. Murals in 40 of the caves cover a combined area of about 1,200 sq meters. So Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves are one of the most valuable Buddhist cave sites found in all of China.

With the first cave being carved during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-581), and with more caves added during the Tang (618-907), the Five Dynasties (907-960), Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368). This site was once a royal Buddhist temple complex for the ancient Gaochang Kingdom with most of the relics found in the Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves being representations of Gaochang culture. Murals of that period depict the King and Queen of Gaochang Kingdom, the stories and images of Buddha and the life of the Gaochang people vividly. Inscriptions on the murals written in ancient Uigur, Chinese and other languages also provide authentic references, invaluable for historical research as a key point along the ancient Silk Road; Turpan was the place where east and west met. A mural found in cave No. 17 depicting the doctrines of the ancient third century Persian religion of Manicheism being some of the best evidence.

The caves also had different usages; most of them being shrines, however, some of them were residences and schools for monks to learn and practice Buddhism, and a few of the caves were shrines dedicated to monks of great renown.

Admission Fee: CNY 20

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