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Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves

Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves are 77 artificial caves, 40 of them contain murals of thousands of Buddhas. Bizaklik means "place where there are paintings" in the Uigur language.Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves

As Buddhism was the first religion from abroad introduced to this area, Xinjiang witnessed the earliest development of Buddhist cave art in China. Soon after the religion's establishment in the region, Turpan became the Buddhist center on the Silk Road owing to its geographic location. It is possible to sense the importance of Buddhism to Silk Road travellers, most of whom stopped to pray for a successful journey. Among the Buddhist caves found in Turpan, Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves are considered most valuable.

Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves

Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves stand high on the cliffs of west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountain, 45 km (28miles) east of Turpan. It preserves 83 original caves, 57 caves currently remain. The murals cover an area over 1, 200 square meters (12,917 square feet) in more than 40 caves.

Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves are often rectangular rooms with a round arch ceiling. This ceiling is divided into quadratic fields, each of them containing the piture of a buddha. So the whole ceiling contains virtually hundreds of buddhas. Some larger fields contain a big buddha, surrounded by other figures and scenes. Other murals show people of the area, including Indians, Persians and Caucasians. As often with this kind of religious paintings, some are rather naive, others are artistically stunning, depending on the ability of the artist. Some faces show the individual characteristics and the inner feelings of the figures.

Some of the thousand year old murals in Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves are in superb condition, but unfortunately many others have either been destroyed by local Muslims or by foreign adventurer-explorers. The latter obviously did not destroy them, they removed them and took them to foreign countries, where they now can be seen in several museums. There are some traces of high quality murals, which are almost completely destoyed. In order to prevent further destructions, some caves are protected by glas walls in front of the walls.

Most of the relics in Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves had been carted off by German explorer Albert von Le Qoc and subsequently destoryed in the Allied bombing of Berlin. He discovered and explored the caves around 1905. It took half a century until the Chinese government started to protect the place by declaring it a cultural spot under State protection.


Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves Tour

Dug into a moutainside beneath sweeping sand dunes and overlooking a roading stream, the location is beautiful and haunting. Even if you do not enter the actual caves, the site is well worth seeing.