Flamin' heck!May 30, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C
With temperatures in the mid-30s it seemed crazy to be heading to the rather ominous-sounding Flaming Mountains, also home to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha caves - another Buddhist monastery carved into the mountainside.
Famous as a place where eggs can be baked in the sand, the Flaming Mountains proved to be spectacular but more for their size than their colour (or perhaps we'd been spoilt by the Rainbow Mountains?). An impossibly steep pathway reached to the mountain top, while the way down appeared to be facilitated by way of a slide - clever thinking!
The Bezelklik caves, once decorated lavishly in much the same way as the more extensive Mogao Caves, had suffered at the hands of European and Japanese explorers, with statues and entire frescoes having been removed to far-away museums. As with all of the Buddhist monasteries we'd visited, it proved to be a place of tranquility and contemplation, even with a horde of Chinese tourists waving flags and sporting matching white outfits with orange caps!
A 20 minute walk to visit Imin Ta turned into an hour-long slog in the uncomfortable heat. But it did give us a bit more of a look at the Muslim section of town. Constructed in 1778, the beautifully decorated minaret rises like a chimney beside the mosque. Clever brickwork creates a complex pattern that contrasts with the plainer mosque. Solemn cradle-like unmarked tombs formed rows in an adjacent cemetery.
A quick trip to the impressive museum, complete with a rather gruesome but nonetheless fascinating collection of mummies excavated during highway construction, then it was back to the station for our final overnight train to Kashgar.Read more