Where are the Best Places to Visit in Turpan? An oasis-like city that stands on the route of mysterious Silk Road, Turpan is now an attractive destination in China with abundant natural and historical resources, and has so much to offer. TopChinaTravel would like to introduce some of the famous places in Turpan for you, like the lost Gaochang Ancient City, the majestic Bezeklik Caves and creative Karez Well, to find you the way to explore the inner beauty of this charming city in northwest China.
Gaochang Ancient City, or the "Imperial City" in Uygur language, was once the city-state that ruled the Gaochang Kingdom from the 9th century to the 13th century. Located 40km to the east part of Turpan, Gaochang Ancient City now covers an area of over 2,000,000 square meters, is the largest city ruins in western China existing.
Most of the constructions in the city were gone by the wind, but enough remain to give a feeling of the true size and majesty of this Silk Road city. It is a rectangle-shaped city about 5.4km in circumference, is mainly consists of three parts, the outer city, inter city and imperial palace, etc. It was first established in the 1st century B.C during the Han Dynasty, and gradually became known as a religious central and trading post on the Silk Road. However, during the 14th century, it was burnt down in wars.
Karez Well, or Kanat Well, is one of the three major construction projects in ancient China, along with the Great Wall in northern China and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. It is actually an unique underground irrigation system that has a history which can be traced back some 2,000 years ago.
A Karez Well is mainly consists of four parts, the shaft, underground channel, ground channel and small reservoir, etc. The combined lengths of the underground channels of this kind in Xinjiang is up to 5,000 meters. Karez Well provided an innovative and elegant resolution to several problems, capturing melting snow and ice from mountains, and channeling it underground to where it was employed for irrigation, overcoming the interruptions to flow caused by sandstorms, wind and huge losses from evaporation that plague a ground-level, open canal system. It therefore a very old but useful horizontal water-collecting system.
Bezeklik Caves, also known as the Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves, is located in a gorgeous valley of the Flaming Mountains, 45km to the west of Turpan. It once had 83 caves in total, which that were hewn out of this cliff face between the 6th and 9th centuries by Buddhist monks who farmed the valley below.
Nowadays, there are 57 caves remained at the Bezeklik Caves. Most of them have rectangular spaces with rounded arch ceilings, which often divided into four sections, each with a mural of Buddha. In that case, the tourists will witness an entire ceiling covers with hundreds of Buddha murals. Some ceilings in Bezeklik Caves are painted with a large Buddha surrounded by other figures, including Indians, Persians and Europeans. The quality of the murals varies, with some being artistically naive while others are masterpieces of religious art.
The Flaming Mountains is considered the top ranked attraction in Turpan area, which located on the northern edge of the Turpan Basin. Under the blazing sun, the red rock glows and hot air curls up like smoke as though it were on fire, hence its name. But most impressively that, in the evenings, this red clay mountains reflect the heat and glow of the desert and seem to burn, hence the name.
Owning to this special geographical condition, the Flaming Mountains is one of the hottest places in China, without a single blade of grass to be seen for miles. With an ultimate temperature in hot summer day around 47.8℃, during the severe heat of July, this mountain series seems to be on fire in the burning sun and become a purplish-brown color. Hot steam rises upwards from the burning cliffs and it is no surprise that this is where the hottest temperatures in China ever, were recorded.