Why is the Flaming Mountain special?
The Flaming Mountain is located in the Tianshan Mountain range in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The mountain is 98 kilometers long and 9 kilometers wide and lies near the northern rim of the Taklamakan Desert and east of the city of Turpan.
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 °C (122 °F) or higher. One of the largest thermometers in China—a popular tourist spot—is on display adjacent to the mountain, tracking the surrounding air temperature.
Flaming Mountain Highlights
Silk Road Route
In ancient times, traders going along the Silk Road Route would bypass Bezeklik caves on gorge cliffs and the Taklamakan Desert and seek some rest in oasis towns such as Gaochang. And Gaochang is 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.
The Legendary Flaming Mountain
Long long ago, a vicious dragon lived in deep inside of Tianshan Mountain and ate small children. One day, a Uygur hero fought gallantly against the dragon and, after three days and three nights, he finally cut the dragon into eight parts. The remains of the dragon turned to a scarlet mountain colored by its blood. The eight cuts turned into the eight valleys of the Flaming Mountain, including the famous Grape Valley.
Another story is based on the classical novel The Journey to the West by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) author Wu Cheng'en, and its charming hero The Monkey King. In the Han account of the legend, it is said the Monkey King stirred up trouble in Heaven and kicked over the furnace used for making immortality pills. Charcoals fell from the sky into the middle of Turpan Basin where the Flaming Mountain now lies.
However, scientific explanations for the mountain cite the effects of tectonic plate movement on the Earth's surface during the formation of the Himalayas 50,000,000 years ago.