Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are found on the
cliffs of the Mutougou Valley in the Flaming Mountains, 50km (31
miles) east of Turpan.
There are 77 caves dating from the Northern and
Southern dynasties (420-589) to the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368) and
at one time they contained beautifully colored Buddhist murals.
The murals were not only artistically stunning
but also anthropologically important as they depicted a range of
people including Indians, Persians and Caucasians. Unfortunately,
few murals of good quality remain at the caves – many were taken
by the German Von Le Coq in the early 20th century. While excavating
the site he discovered the artistic masterpieces and decided to
cut out the murals and transport them for sale in Europe. Others
murals were defaced by Muslim locals, who feared the omnipotent
powers of the Buddhist images and believed that digging out the
eyes and mouths would disable their supposed powers.
Although the caves do not match their former glory,
visitors will enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.