Xinjiang Gaochang Ruin, China

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Gaochang Ruin, Xinjiang

The Gaochang Ruin was called "Duhu City" in Uigur means "The King City".

Sitting in a southern county of Flame Mountain called Sanbao, 45 km away from Tulufa, it has gained the geographic advantages of being a major location of the ancient Silk Road and an important gateway to Middle Asia.

The Chinese classic novel "Pilgrimage to the West" also took this city as one of its background places.

The Gaochang Ruin has a long history as being built in the first century before Christ, Han Dynasty (206B.C. ~ 219A.D.). It was the capital of the Gaochang Kingdom of Huihu people then. Located in a high and wide-open area and having accommodated many people, it was naturally called "Gaochang City". After over 1,300 years,

Gaochang City was burnt during wars in the 12th century, which led to its later fate of being abandoned slowly. Now visitors can only imagine its previous prosperity through the remainder of the city and the base of the palace.

The Gaochang City was slowly reclaimed by local people as their farmland after its abandonment. Most buildings were destroyed and only outer city in southwest area and two temples in southeast area were left intact.

One of the temples lies in southeast area and consists of portal, courtyard, the sutras chanting hall, the sutras collecting tower, the main hall and monk rooms. The other located in southeast area has a polygon-shaped tower and a cavern for worshiping.

Besides, there is a small castle of irregular quadratic shape, local people called it Cham Castle and is the only place of the city having frescos well preserved.

The current Gaochang Ruin is near Tulufan City and is rich in tourism resources like antiques, special landscapes and interesting local custom. Fireland, Windland, Sandland and Oasis merged into an integral museum of natural geography and history.

As the old city is so special, those places have become scarce after a long time. Many tourists can not help grooving on the time express back to scenes of Pilgrimage to the West or the prosperous Gaochang Kingdom as soon as they stand on the ground of the ruin. You may wish to spend more time alone in the place, deep in thought or imagination.


In 460 A.D., the Rouran people made Bozhou of the Han family to be their king and named the new country "Gaochang Kingdom".

Tracing back to the past in history, Gaochang had always been the hinge connecting China with Middle Asia and Europe. Trade and religion spread were very active then. Religions all over the outer world came into China through Gaochang and made this city to be a religious shrine.

According to history records, the 29 years old Xuanzang, the famous Buddhist master and also the protagonist of Pilgrimage to the West, made up his mind go to India for the purpose of improving Buddhist academic level of China in 629 AD.

He started this great journey along the Silk Road, taking his way through Yumen Gateway, Gaochang kingdom and the West regions, having visited today's Afghanistan, Bhutan and Pakistan. He overcame many difficulties and at last arrived in India, realizing his will of worshiping Buddha and studying Buddhism in the shrine.

During his short staying time in Gaochang, Master Xuanzang preached for Buddhist and moved the King of Gaochang who took him closely as his brother then.

According to this story, the novelist of Ming Dynasty Wu Cheng-en had created the great mythical novel "Pilgrimage to the West" ("Si You Ji"), telling Tangsanzang and his three apprentices' story of overcoming all kinds of difficulties and globins on the way to go on a pilgrimage for Buddhist scriptures back to China. In this novel, Gaochang City was just a big city on the way to West Paradise.