Flaming Mountains

The Flaming Mountains (Chinese: 火焰山; pinyin: huǒyànshān) are barren, eroded, red sandstone hills in the Tian Shan Mountain range in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China. They lie near the northern rim of the Taklamakan Desert and east of the city of Turpan. Their striking gullies and trenches have been etched by years of volcanic activity that caused molten lava to course down the mountainsides, giving the mountains a flaming appearance at certain times of the day. The mountains are 98 kilometers (61 mi) long and 9 kilometers (5.6 mi) wide and cross the Tarim Basin from east to west. The average height of the Flaming Mountains is 500 meters (1640 ft). The mountain climate is harsh and the temperature is extremely hot in the summer, the hottest spot in China with frequent temperature reaching over 50° celsius or higher. One of the largest thermometer in China and a popular tourist spot is on display adjacent to the mountain and tracks the surrounding air temperature. [cite web
url=http://www.chinahighlights.com/xinjiang/turpan/attraction/flaming-mountain.htm
title=Flaming Mountain, Turpan
publisher=chinahighlights.com
accessdate=2007-09-19
]

ilk route

In ancient times, the Taklamakan Desert was avoided by merchant traders transversing the Silk Route in southeast Asia and oasis towns such as Gaochang, built at the foot of the Flaming Mountains on the desert's rim near an important mountain pass, became respite stops for traveling merchant traders.Buddhist missionaries often accompanied traders on busy international trading routes and during the times trade boomed on the Silk Route, Buddhist monasteries and temples were built in the busy trading centers and in nearby remote mountain spots.cite book
last =Keay
first =John
title =India: A History
publisher =Grove Press
date =2000
location =New York
pages = pp. 103, 124—27
id = ISBN 0802137970
] cite book
first=Patricia
last= Ebrey
year= 2006
title=The Cambridge Illustrated History of China
edition=
publisher=Cambridge University Press
location=
pages= pp. 106–7, 202
id= ISBN 0-521-43519-X
]

The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves site lies in a gorge under the cliffs of the Flaming Mountains near the pass by Gaochang. It is a complex of seventy Buddhist cave grottoes dating from the 5th to the 9th centuries, many with thousands of murals of Buddha. [cite web
url=http://www.showcaves.com/english/cn/misc/Bezeklik.html
title=Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves
publisher=showcaves.com
accessdate=2007-09-19
] [cite web
url=http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/xinjiang/turpan/bizaklik.htm
title=Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves
publisher=travelchinaguide
accessdate=2007-09-19
]

Literary fame

The Flaming Mountains received their name from a fantasy account of a Buddhist monk, accompanied by a Monkey King with magical powers, who runs into a wall of flames on his pilgrimage to India in the popular 16th century novel, "Journey to the West", by Ming Dynasty writer, Wu Cheng'en.cite book
first=Patricia
last= Ebrey
year= 2006
title=The Cambridge Illustrated History of China
edition=
publisher=Cambridge University Press
location=
pages= p. 202
id= ISBN 0-521-43519-X
] The novel is an embellished description of the monk Xuanzang who traveled to India in 627 CE to obtain Buddhist scriptures and went through a pass in the Tien Shan after leaving Gaochang. [cite web
url=http://www.cis.umassd.edu/~gleung/cawfo/conf16.htm
title=The Third Cross-Strait Conference — Post-conference Tour to the Flaming Mountains
publisher=University of Massachusetts.edu
accessdate=2007-09-18
]

Legends

According to an old Han legend, the Monkey King created a disturbance in the heavens and knocked over a kiln, causing embers to fall from the sky to the place where the Flaming Mountains are now. In an Uigur legend, a dragon lived in the Tianshan Mountains. Because the dragon ate little children, an Uigur hero slew the dragon and cut it into eight pieces. The dragon's blood turned into a scarlet mountain of blood and the eight pieces became the eight valleys in the Flaming Mountains. [cite web
year=
month=
url=http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/xinjiang/turpan/mt_flaming.htm
title=The Flaming Mountains (Huo Yan Shan)
publisher=travelchinaguide.com
accessdate=2007-09-21
]

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/gallery/firem001.htm Photo of the Flaming Mountains]
* [http://library.thinkquest.org/20443/xinjiang.html Xinjiang]
* [http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/xinjiang/turpan/gaochang.htm Gaochang]
* [http://www.ess.uci.edu/~oliver/silk2.html The Bezeklik Grottoes in the Flaming Mountains near Turfan - Photo]


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