Places We Go / Xinjiang (Uighur Tour)

Visiting The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

Found deep within a canyon in the Flaming Mountains, the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are a complex of Buddhist niches and caves that date back to the 5th century…

Long-time readers will, I believe, find that the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves remind them very much of the Buddhist caves (and former site of the giant Buddhas) in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley that I visited in 2008.

Arriving at the canyon in China’s Xinjiang region where the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are found:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

Despite its name, there were never more than a few hundred caves at the The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. Today, just 77 remain. And, unfortunately, the setting of these caves is now far more dramatic than the caves or their contents…

Between Muslim populations that gouged out the faces on the murals and German archaeological expeditions that carted away entire sections of the murals (only to have them destroyed in Berlin in World War II), there is not a lot left to get excited about within the caves.

Making our way down to the caves:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

A view of the caves along the cliff face:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

Some of the niches scattered amongst the caves:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

A view up the canyon from one of the caves:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

And a view across the canyon, which provides a better look at the Flaming Mountains:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

Some of the sort of surviving murals left within the caves:

Bezeklik-Buddha-murals

An example from another cave of what is left here:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

Inside one of the caves:

Bezeklik-Thousand-Buddha-Caves

Aside from a couple of bored guards, we had the site to ourselves. That’s always a nice experience, but if one’s time in Xinjiang is limited, I believe their time could be more productively spent making some Uighur friends back in town.

I hunted for quite a while for blog postings from others that had visited the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves (not an easy task when sifting through the hordes of cheap Chinese tour companies offering a visit here) to share someone else’s perspective with you, dear readers, but could only find the blog of one other person, Betcey, that visited… So, congratulations are in order for her and if one wishes to read of the experience of another visitor, her posting can be found here.

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