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Flaming Mountains

Flaming Mountains

Located on the northern rim of the Turpan Basin and 10 kilometers east of Turpan City are the Flaming Mountains (Chinese pinyin: huoyan shan). They are red and barren eroded sandstone mountains among the Tianshan Mountain range in Xinjiang. It was 98 kilometers long, 9 kilometers wide, and 500 meters high, and the Flaming Mountains that form a red dragon east to west under the sun.

Millions of years of volcanic activity and weathering have formed breathtaking gullies on the mountainsides, making them appear like flames at certain times of the day, hence its name Flaming Mountains. This area is the hottest area in China with a harsh climate that can reach to 50 °C (122 °F) in the summer. The temperature of the surface of the earth can reach over 70 °C. There is a large thermometer near the mountain that tracks the temperature of the area.

Legend has it that the Monkey King wreaked havoc in Heaven and poured down alchemic Eight Trigrams Furnace of Lord Lao Zi. A few embers fell onto Turpan from the Heaven. The Monkey King magical palm-leaf fan put out the fire and thus, the Flaming Mountains were formed.

In the popular classic, “Journey to the West,” the Monkey King and his master ran into a mountain of flames on their pilgrimage to India. The Monkey King Made three attempts to borrow the palm-leaf fan from Princess Tieshan to help extinguish it. The Monkey King put out the fire eventually. The master, with his three disciples, including the Monkey King, continued their journey to the West to obtain scriptures.

The Flaming Mountains were an important part of the ancient Silk Road since the ancient capital city Gaochang was built at the foot of the Flaming Mountains on the rim of the Taklamakan Desert. Buddhist missionaries and traders often stopped there during their pilgrimages. The Bezeklik Thousand-Buddha Caves lie in a gorge under the cliffs in Flaming Mountains.