My Trip to KuqaOctober 12, 2005
Kuqa was once the center of the ancient kingdom of Qiuci. The inhabitants were Indo Eurpean Tocharians, who migrated down from Anatolia ( Turkey ) and Caucasus. Kuqa musicians and artists were very much the fashion in the big city of Chang'an - the present Xian.
Kuqa is located on the northern edge of the Tarism Basin, 280km west of Korla and 290km east of Aksu. The present Kuqa is a small, but friendly Uighur town. There is a great sunday market in the city center. It is worthwhile visiting the bazaar as well as the Great Mosque.
After breakfast, we drive 72km north of Kuqa and visit our first attraction in Kuqa - Tianshan Grand Canyon. The Tianshan Mystery Canyon is located in the mountain area 72km north of Kuqa. The canyon is characterized by oddly-shaped rocks, craggy pinnacles, rugged cliffs and deep ravines. The width of the canyon changes due to the terrain. While the broadest area is 53 meter wide, the narrowest section is too narrow for one person to go through sideways.
After lunch, we drive to Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves. The caves are located 67 kilometers west of Kucha County, the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves is the oldest of its kind in China and the largest ruins of Buddhist culture in Xinjiang, even one century earlier than the famous Mogao Grottoes. There are now 236 numbered grottoes in this cave, which houses nearly 10,000 square meters of mural paintings.
Actually in Kuqa, there are totally 4 Thousand-Buddha Caves and other three are Subashi Site, Simsim Grottoes andKumtura Grottoes. Kuqa is now quite accessible either by road or train. The Urumqi-Kashgar train stops at Kuqa. You may also hire a car or van and drive directly from Korla or even from Urumqi. The cheap public bus is alao available daily.
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