Flaming Mountain

What is Flaming Mountain?

The Flaming Mountains or Gaochang Mountains are barren, eroded, red sandstone hills in Tian Shan Mountain range, Xinjiang, China. They lie near the northern rim of the Taklamakan Desert and east of the city of Turpan. Their striking gullies and trenche caused by erosion of the red sandstone bedrock give the mountains a flaming appearance at certain times of the day.


According to the classical novel Journey to the West, 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 a Uigur legend, a dragon lived in the Tianshan Mountains. Because the dragon ate little children, a 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.[7]

silk route

In ancient times, the merchant traders traversing the Silk Route in southeast Asia avoided the mountains by stopping at oasis towns, such as Gaochang, built on the desert's rim at the foot of the Flaming Mountains and near an important mountain pass. Oasis towns became respite stops for traveling merchant traders. Buddhist missionaries often accompanied traders on busy international trade routes. During this time trade boomed on the Silk Route. Buddhist monasteries and temples were built in the busy trading centers and in nearby remote mountain spots.[1][2]

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 CE, many with thousands of murals of Buddha.[3][4]


A temperature of 152.2 °F (66.8 °C) was measured in 2008