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Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves

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.

Sooner after the religion's establishment in the region, Turpan became the Buddhist center on the Silk Road, owing to its geographic location. Among the Buddhist caves found in Turpan, the Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves are considered most valuable.

Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves stand high on the cliffs of west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountain, 45 km (28miles) east of Turpan. Of the 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.

thousand-buddha-caves01Beginning in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the construction experienced the Tang dynasty, the Five Dynasties, Song and Yuan. The caves were the Buddhist center of Gaochang. Near the end of the 13th century, the royal family of Gaochang moved to Yongchang, Gansu. Around this time, Buddhism in Turpan began to decline in popularity with the introduction of Islam. Subsequently, the religious importance of The Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves became less apparent. Many of the caves were destroyed during the ensuing religious clashes. Vandals dug out the eyes of many of the human figures contained in the murals. Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, foreign explorers robbed the caves of much of the treasures. Despite all the destruction, the surviving parts, such as the delicate Buddha seat and the bright color of the murals, give us some idea of its past glory.

Bizaklik Caves was the royal temple of Huihu (the predecessor of today's Uygur) State and the existing caves were enlarged or renovated during that time. The murals take us back to the ancient Huihu State, where we can see the king and queen and people from all walks of life. The inscriptions, written in ancient Uygur, Chinese, and other languages, provide authentic reference for valuable historic research.

The most exceptionally rare mural topics in Bizaklik Caves are found in Caves No.16 and 17. Cave No.16 depicts a musician playing Xiao Hu Lei-- a lute-like instrument originating from southern China's Yunnan province. This strengthens the belief that cultural exchange between northern and southern China was unprecedented during Tang Dynasty.

The mural, Transformation in Hell, in Cave No.17 supports the notion that Huihu Gaochang was the center of Manicheism from the 9th to the 12th century.

Buddhist Disciples Wailing in Mourning and Bhikku Wailing in Mourning, in Cave No.33, are also highly praised for their vivid depiction.

In addition to the murals and inscriptions, a piece of gold foil wrapping paper found at the caves is also intriguing. A stamp on it revealed the address of the shop on the south side of Tiahelou Street, Hangzhou, Zhejiang of Song Dynasty. It also advised clients to examine their goods carefully before purchase to avoid being cheated. As an apparent piece of advertisement, the foil shows that Gaochang Huihu kept close economic ties with Song Dynasty as the trade extended as far as to the East China Sea.

Traveler Reviews

5.0
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Olayemi A

5.0

The two day tour was all i needed. And they made it perfect. From the Badaling Great Wall, Changling Ming Tombs, Jade Factory and Tea Ceremony place to Forbidden City, and Summer Palace and Pearl Factory, it was wonderful.

JanetH944

5.0

I booked this tour last minute and did not regret it! The cost was minimal compared to the fun I had! First we toured the Forbidden City and our guide, Leo, was wonderful! He shared great knowledge and gave us time to explore on our own. Next we went to the Jade factory and was given a short tour followed by lunch there. The dining experience was wonderful and delicious. We then headed to the Great Wall and it was amazing! Although our time there was limited to two hours, it was just almost perfect. We ended the day with a tea sampling and shopping. I couldnt have asked for a more perfect first tour of China.

Colette K

5.0

On our recent trip we visited :
1) Badaling Great Wall and the Ming Tombs with Linda
2) Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace with Jackson
3) Zhujiajao Water Town with Jason
We were well looked after and driven everywhere as part of a small bus group and met some lovely people. The local Chinese lunches were particularly nice.

stephanie 

5.0

We had a 2-day tour with Tour Travel China.
The first day includes Badaling Great Wall and Changling Ming Tombs with visits to the Jade Factory and Tea Ceremony place.
The second day includes Tian An Men + Forbidden City, Tian Tan, and Summer Palace with visits to the Pearl Factory and Bao Shu Tang where we got a nice foot massage for only 20 Kuai. 
The itinerary and tour service, especially the first day with David were absolutely amazing! He is a great tour guide, with excellent command in English as well as a nice personality.
The second day with Paul was a little bit too fast for our liking. He spoke too fast and a little bit unclear, and seem like almost too in rush for anything so I think that could be improved in the future. The meal in our second day was amazing though! Delicious!
Thank you to you and all TTC team for helping our trip in Beijing much easier!

AnnemiekHK

5.0

Enjoyed a hiking day trip with Tour Travel China to the Great Wall at Jinshangling. This is a further away section but much quieter and definitely worth the extra travel. I visited Mitanyu previously which was very busy.
Two hikes were available 7km and 13km. I took the 7km which was still quite challenging. Spent 2.5 hours on the wall. It’s an amazing experience.
After hiking we had a late lunch at a local restaurant and then headed back to Beijing.
There is no shopping, although there are a few hawkers on the wall.
Make sure you take lots of water and sunscreen with you as it can get quite hot in Summer.
The tour guide and driver were excellent and can recommend this trip.
The travel time is quite long so bring a tablet and headphones to keep you entertained

calishandysg

5.0

We had a great 3-day tour. Most of it was a walking tour that required stamina. The cost was a good deal that included 3 lunch meals.
The tour guides Yoyo, Irish and Vik were very knowledgable about their history. Their English was good, but at times could not understand their accent. 
The Lunch for the 3 days were good but on the 2nd and 3rd day, we were brought to the same restaurant. The service in the Great wall restaurant was good. Food was prepared on the table when we arrived. Unlike in the 2nd restaurant, food was served one at a time, hence time-consuming.
The mandatory stops, total of 5 in 3days: Jade factory, Tea factory, Pearl factory, Silk factory, Foot massage were informative but the time spent there could have been added for picture-taking in the tourist places.
The 24-hour hotline was veey helpful for queries.
Overall, Tour travel China met our travel expectations.
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Jenny
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Catherine
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Lily
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John
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Rose
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