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Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves

As we know already, the Great Silk Road provided entry of Buddhism into China from India. As the Silk Road was crossing the mountain plateaus of China, Xinjiang became the first witness of spreading Buddhism in China. Soon, Turpan as an important town on the Silk Road became a Buddhism centre. Buddhist caves founded in the outskirts of Turpan, Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves, are considered to be the most precious.

Bizaklik is hidden in the centre of Tianshan mountains. Thousands of monks hewed their cells in the stone and built this place for Buddha worship. On the walls of the temple made of white stone, monks left the pearls of their craft. They created them for a common belief and a hope that they will be seen by other people.

Bizaklik Caves are in 45 km away from Turpan city, situated in high mountains in the Western part of Mutou valley and Fire Mountains. From a great height there’s an exciting view of Fire Mountains, desert and a green valley with a river.

Originally Bizaklik had 83 caves, now 57 of them are preserved. 40 of them have ancient and unique frescos made in the period from V to IX century. Most of them portray Buddha. Looking at the frescos we can imagine the past of this region. Some of them portray foreign traders of European appearance who make gifts to Buddha. Some of frescos have pictures of the ancient towns where inhabitants are doing quotidian activities. Inscriptions in ancient Uygurian, Chinese and other languages are invaluable historical source of information.

The most interesting frescos are in 16th and 17th caves. In 16th cave there is a fresco with a musician playing the ancient lute-like instrument. This instrument came from Yunnan province (south province of China), so this fresco demonstrates the cultural exchange between north and south part of China until extreme antiquity.

People who are fond of history or Buddhist culture will definitely find this place valuable and exciting.

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