Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves Buddhist reflection on the Silk Road

Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves Aksu Xinjiang
The Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves are witness to the history of the Kuqa region before the arrival of Han Chinese and the Islamization of Xinjiang. They contain impressive frescoes of Indo-European style. In addition to traditional representations of Buddha's life and the lives of the peoples of the region, folktales are also represented.

Chinese Influence

70 kilometers west of Kuqa, the Kizil Grottoes, also known as Thousand Buddha Caves are a veritable encyclopedia of the peoples of Central Asia at the beginning of our era. Built between the Third and Ninth century, it contained unique frescoes different from common ones. Indeed, at the time of their completion, the area was not yet entirely under Chinese influence. It was an Indo-European society that was installed in Kuqa. When we admire frescoes Kizil, one cannot help but notice the almost total absence of Chinese influence.

Destiny of Kizil

Like all Buddhist religious sites, the caves of Kizil have once experienced damage. With wars and changes of kingdoms, the caves have been damaged but the worst was of course the transition to Islam. All the statues of the site were destroyed by the Muslims who attributed them to idolatry. The caves were then abandoned until German archaeologists rediscovered the site and carried with them more than 470m² of frescoes! Today, only 80 caves of the remaining 230 caves have frescoes. To preserve at best, only a dozen are open to the public.


  • Best time to visit

    Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. 
  • Altitude

    1 200M Altitude Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves
Scroll to top
  • 21-day Silk Road expedition

    21-day Silk Road expedition

    21 days - from $3,941

  • visit Old town of Turpan

    Old town of Turpan

  • visit Grape Valley

    Grape Valley

  • visit Jiaohe Ruins

    Jiaohe Ruins

  • visit Karez Water System

    Karez Water System

  • visit Turpan Museum

    Turpan Museum

  • visit Dinner in Uyghur Family

    Dinner in Uyghur Family

  • visit Flaming Mountains

    Flaming Mountains

  • visit Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

    Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

  • visit Astana-karakhoja Ancient tombs

    Astana-karakhoja Ancient tombs

  • visit Ancient City of Gaochang

    Ancient City of Gaochang

  • visit Bosten Lake

    Bosten Lake

  • visit Taklamakan desert

    Taklamakan desert

  • visit Subashi ruins

    Subashi ruins

  • visit Kuqa Old Town

    Kuqa Old Town

  • visit Kizilgaha Beacon Tower

    Kizilgaha Beacon Tower

  • visit Hotan Cultural Museum

    Hotan Cultural Museum

  • visit Damagou Temple

    Damagou Temple

  • visit Atlas Silk Workshop

    Atlas Silk Workshop

  • visit White Jade Factory

    White Jade Factory

  • visit Melikawat Ruins

    Melikawat Ruins

  • visit Yarkand Mausoleum

    Yarkand Mausoleum

  • visit Kashgar Grand Bazaar

    Kashgar Grand Bazaar

  • visit Id Kah Mosque

    Id Kah Mosque

  • visit Abakh Hoja Tomb

    Abakh Hoja Tomb

  • visit Kashgar Old Town

    Kashgar Old Town

  • visit Karakul Lake

    Karakul Lake

  • visit Erdaoqiao market

    Erdaoqiao market

  • visit Heavenly Lake

    Heavenly Lake

  • visit Multicolored Bay

    Multicolored Bay

  • visit Kalamaili Ungulate Nature Reserve

    Kalamaili Ungulate Nature Reserve

  • visit Kanas Lake

    Kanas Lake

  • visit Irtysh River

    Irtysh River

  • visit Guanyu Pavilion

    Guanyu Pavilion

  • visit Tuva Villages

    Tuva Villages

  • visit Urho Ghost City

    Urho Ghost City

  • visit Sayram Lake

    Sayram Lake

  • visit Guozigou Valley

    Guozigou Valley

  • visit Nalati Prairie

    Nalati Prairie