Royal Buddhism Temple Ruin of Gaochang Uighurs
Goachang is the largest city ruin in west China. The site served as the economical and religious center of Asia is located 40 kilometers from the Turpan City, at the north bank of the Aiding Lake and to the south of the Flaming Mountain.
It is also called "Grand West Temple" by the local people, 700 meters west of the ruin of Beiting Ancient City. Its grand scale and fine plastic arts is the only in ruins of the same kind found in north Xinjiang. The temple faces to the south consisting of the main hall, two side halls in the east and west respectively. The length from south to north is 70.5 meters; the width from the east to west is 43.8 meters. The height of remaining main hall is more than 14 meters. In the east hall, there is a 13-meter remaining sleeping Buddha. The head of Buddha face towards the north, and the feet towards the south, looks like in a sound sleep. A big mural painting named “painting of dividing Buddhist relics” is preserved in good condition. In the east of the main hall, there are newly-repaired 15 Buddha niches, each niche has figure of Buddha and mural. The figures of Buddha in the niche are as much as the size of a real man. The mural illustrates the stories of Buddha as well as the figure of fending person, the lives and tour of inspection of Gaochang Uighurs royal. The remaining sitting Buddha in the main hall is 10 meters in height. The Grand West Temple was built in 10 century by Gaochang Uighurs and ruined in war of the incipient period of Ming Dynasty.
The ruins are an irregular square, covering an area of about 2,200,000 sq meters (2,631,178 sq yards). The layout is similar to that of Chang'an City in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The city is composed of three sections: an outer city, an inner city and a palace city. The outer city with a perimeter of 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles), is enclosed by a city wall of 12 meters (39 feet) thick and 11.5 meters (37.7 feet) high, and built with tamped earth. Nine city gates are located in the four cardinal points: three in the South, and two in each of the other directions. The gates in the west are the best preserved. In the southwestern and southeastern parts of the outer city stand two temples ruins. The temple in the southwestern corner consists of a gate, a courtyard, a sermon hall, a sutra depository and monks' abodes. The southeastern temple consists of a polygonal tower and a worship grotto, where splendid murals remain well preserved.
The inner city, situated right in the middle of the outer city, has a perimeter of 3 kilometers (2 miles). The western and southern parts of the city walls are well preserved. The eastern and southern parts were badly damaged, only with the northeastern highlands and the southeastern earthen platforms are still visible. No trace of the inner city's gates remain.
The Palace City is located in the north of the inner city, sharing its southern wall with the inner city and northern wall with the outer city. It is a rectangle with a perimeter of 700 meters (2,296 feet). Within the city, many large cornerstones remains are still visible, with an average height of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) to 4 meters (13 feet). These cornerstones are relics of a 4-storied palace. An irregular adobe square standing in a high earthen platform is called "Khan's Castle", which was the imperial residence.
As one of the key points along the Silk Road, the ancient city of Gaochang was also a sanctuary of world religious culture. Xuanzhuang, a well-known Buddhist monk in the Tang Dynasty stopped here and delivered lectures on his way to India. Today, the remains standing here remind us of the grandeur and prosperity of the ancient city.
In its heyday, Gaochang was a great Uigur city built on the business and trade that came through its gates. The religious beliefs of many peoples entered China through this area, first Buddhism and later Islam.
Most of the ruins are gone, but enough remain to give a feeling of the true size and majesty of this Silk Road city. The city walls, made of earth, are set in a 5km square, with heights of up to 11 meters and width of 12 meters. The city is also divided into an outer city, an inner city, and a palace compound.
The best preserved structures in the ruins are two temple/monasteries in the southwest and southeast corners of the outer city section. In the southwestern temple, the front gate, courtyard, lecture hall, main hall, and monastic dormitories are relatively intact. The southeast temple has the only preserved fresco in the ruins.
How to get Gaochang Ruins :The easiest way to see many of the sights in the countryside around Turpan is to hire a minibus for the day. This should cost between RMB300-RMB500 for six people and your driver should take you to many of the sights around the area. Drivers cruise the streets of Turpan looking for customers.
How to get there:
1. Take the tourist bus from Turpan to Doushan, it stops at Shengjinkou, then transfer to motorcycles from Shengjinkou to Gaochang.
2. Take a bus from Turpan to Sanbao Township Government, and then transfer to motorcycles to Gaochang.
3. Take a taxi.
The best time to visit Turpan is from June to August when various melons and fruits are ripe, so you may taste the delicious fruits. The Grape Festival held in August every year is also quite exciting and very enjoyable. During the Grape Festival, a variety of cultural activities such as evening parties, and the grape wine festival are enjoyable events to attend.
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