Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are found on the cliffs, 50km (31 miles) east of Turpan. The bizaklik Thousand-buddha Caves became an important cultural unit protected by the state in 1961.

Turpan is located three hours drive East of Urumqi in China's Far Western Xinjiang Province and is an important historic and cultural town. Sited some 250 miles inside the Taklimakan Desert, it is essentially a man made oasis - developed by the ancient traders who channeled melt water from the Tian Shan Mountains some 500km away underground to Turpan in order to provide a rest and watering place for the caravanesi traveling from Europe, The Middle East, Africa and Central Asia across the deserts to reach China proper and conduct trade.

You get to Turpan by flying to Urumqi then getting a taxi - an interesting route across one of the worlds most barren and inhospitable areas with temperatures reaching the high 40's. Turpan is right in the middle of the Tarim Basin - the second lowest place on earth. The Taklimakan is actually the bed of an ancient sea, so irrigating the soil produces tremendous results in crops. Honey Melons, known internationally, actually originate from the nearby town of Hami, while Turpan itself is famous for it's quite superb grapes. And when you mix grapes with lots of sunshine and a thirsty population you eventually get wine production: Turpan is home to China's finest wines, some of which are quite excellent. Turpan has a "grape valley" in which nothing but vines are grown and significant investments have been made by French viniculturists. It's possible to visit the several vineyards there, under the shade of the vine leaves, and enjoy several glasses of local wines with the local cuisine of fresh salads, lamb kebabs and fruit. Wines vary from acceptable dry reds (Lou Lan is good and has some vintages) to sweet dessert wines similar to Hungarian Tokay. Some of the branding is a bit odd ("Scent of a Woman" wine is actually a great buy and a very passable dessert wine that would not disgrace any fine restaurant) but the product is great - a far cry from the normal unimaginative Great Walls and Dragon Seals that are commonly served elsewhere - this is a wine lovers treat.

The vineyards will sell by the bottle or case - you can also order direct and they'll arrange delivery.

Back in Turpan, here is one hotel that is head and shoulders above the rest: the new Xi Zhou Da Jiudian (995-855-4000) is quite nice. For under 300 RMB you should be able to get a very nice room. The Oasis Hotel used to be the place to stay and is still a decent option(tel: 0995 852 2491). For food the night markets are fantastic, just past the Xi Zhou Hotel.

Outside, the streets are lined with palm tress and the inevitable vines, with the melt water now rising in channels either side of the street and open to keep the air temperature down. Closeby historical sites to visit include Gaocheng, an ancient city that was sacked by Genghis Khan, it's a world heritage site. Bits of ancient broken pottery still lie in the sand amongst the ruined houses and temples. Sandstorms occur daily here for twenty minutes at a time so take a cotton scarf or a hat to place over your mouth if caught out. Take cover and wait for it to blow over. - you'll have warning as the wind picks up, the skies darken and you can see it coming across the horizon.

There are several other lost cities dotted about and accessible, but always take a guide - wandering about in the desert is only for those who know it well, and not for nothing did the Taklimakan get it's name, which translates as "Go In and Don't Come Back Out" - it still claims the lives of unprepared explorers even today.

Closer to Urumqi - the Tian Shan Mountains themselves are also just a two hour drive and well worth a visit (we'll cover them in a later issue) and the museum at Urumqi has an excellent collection of silk road artifacts. But for a weekend away - The vineyards at Turpan are well worth the effort. "Hosh" is the local toast meaning "Cheers !" Have fun !

There are seventy-seven numbered grottoes, about forty of which still have murals in them
Bizaklik has the most grottoes, most diversified architectural styles and the richest mural content in the Turpan area
The thousand-year-old murals inside the Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves are in superb condition

Climate & Weather Report

Climate unit Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Temperature ºC 7 10 14.5 19.5 23 25.5 29 30 25 19 14 10.5
  ºF 44.6 50 58.1 67.1 73.4 77.9 84.2 86 77 66.2 57.2 50.9
Precipitation mm. 15 20 38 99 142 180 142 122 150 112 48 20
  in. .6 .8 1.5 3.9 5.6 7.1 5.6 4.8 5.9 4.8 1.9 0.8

The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves, 48 kilometers northeast of the Turpan urban area, are located in the Flaming Mountains' Mutou Valley. They were called the Ningrong Grottoes in the Tang Dynasty. There are 77 numbered grottoes, about 40 of which still have murals in them. The group of grottoes in Bizaklik, with a total of 1,200 square meters of murals, has the most grottoes, most diversified architectural styles and the richest mural content in the Turpan area. The oldest grottoes were hewn in the period of Qushi Gaochang from the Tang Dynasty right up to the Yuan Dynasty in the thirteenth century. It was an important Buddhist gathering place. Its most prosperous period was under the reign of the Xizhou Huigu government, which was built the royal temple of the King of Huigu on this site. Most of the existing grottoes were extended or reconstructed during the Huigu period.

Even today, one can still see on the remaining Buddhist murals the features of the King and Queen of Huigu and people of different status, as well as scenes of the lives of ancient Uygur people. Inscriptions in the ancient Huigu, Chinese and Brahmi languages are valuable materials for research on the written languages and history of Xinjiang's various nationalities, and Uygur in particular.

The murals depicting "Buddhist disciples wailing in mourning" and "Bhikku wailing in mourning" on the back wall of the Grotto No.33 are rare artistic pieces which depict the inner feelings of the figures with vivid images and individual characteristics. The ancient instruments shown in the mural depicting "Female Dancers on Performance" in Grotto No.16 and the mural of "Transformation in the Hell" in Grotto No.17 are seldom seen in Buddhist grottoes in China.


Airport code:



Urumqi International Airport lies in Diwopu, about 16 kilometers northwest of the downtown area of Urumqi City.

Brief Intro:-
Urumqi International Airport is one of the most important airports in western China. It is a passageway connecting China and Middle Asia, West Asia, Europe and Africa. If given a bird's eye view of the entire construction, it resembles an elegant flying swan.

The buildings consist of an International Waiting Hall, a National Waiting Hall and two VIP Lounges. Restaurants, shops, broadcast center and information counters within the airport offer you many conveniences.

There are altogether 11 parking aprons, covering an area of 45,651 square meters (about 11.3 acres), which can admit the landing of more than 30 aircrafts at the same time. Now some 115 airlines are available to cover 60 domestic and international cities.

Shopping area and restaurants
Stores, restaurants and cafes can be found in restricted and commercial areas of the Waiting Building.

Business center
Situated beside the escalator in the Arrivals Hall on 1 F, the business center can provide (you) copy, mimeograph and fax service.
Tel: 0991-3801654

Ticket booking
Tel: 0991-3807233 / 0991-3807335 / 0991-3807160

Information counter
Tel: 0991-3801347

Baggage storage
It can be found beside the escalator on 1 F in the Arrivals Hall.

By Train
Urumqi is linked by rail to six major Chinese cities, including Xian, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Zhengzhou and Lanzhou. Due to the great distances, we strongly advise you to take hard or soft sleeper berth. Train services also connect Urumqi with other main cities in Xinjiang, such as Korla, Aksu, Kuitun, and Liuyuan. The train station is in the southwest part of the city. It will cost you 10 Yuan to take a taxi from the city center to the station. There are ticket offices situate in Huanghe Lu and No. 3 in Jianshe Lu. Remember to buy tickets at least three days in advance.

By Bus
Long-haul buses go to most cities in Xinjiang every day. There are also special tourist lines to Heavenly Lake (120 km), Southern Pastures (75km), Turpan (200km), Shihezi (150km), etc.

Northern Suburb Passenger Transport Station
Address: 8, Dongba Jiahu Lu
Route: for places in eastern Xinjiang Province

Southern Suburb Passenger Transport Station
Address: 1, Yan'erwo Lu, Santunbei
Route: for destinations in southern Xinjiang Province

Nianzigou Passenger Transport Station
Address: Heilongjiang Lu
Route: mainly to places in southern and northern Xinjiang Province

Turpan Oasis Hotel, Turpan (3 Star)
41 Qin Nian Road, Turpan 838000, China.
Tel: (86-995) 8522491 | Fax: (86-995) 8523348

Grand Turpan, Turpan (2 Star)
#20 Gao Chang Road, Turpan 838000, China