Silk Road Trip Preliminaries:
Seven days until we leave for China’s part of the Silk Road. Quite an itinerary. “Thirty Caves in Thirty Days.” Actually 10 cities in 22 days and 9 cave sites with hundreds of caves at each site. Start from the far west, Urumqi, we’ll trek eastward to Luoyang. Plane, train, boat, car and camel plus some hiking and maybe a donkey. The big stuff is set. Hotels, trains, and planes are reserved. On site details will depend on conditions. We’ll be flexible.
The passion for this trip was lit when I visited Luoyang and the Longmen Caves. Over two thousand, actually 2345, caves and niches and tens of thousands of statues carved into the hillside above the river Yi. Many of these statues are reliefs, carved in place from the mountain. Astounding degree of religious passion. Buddhism was expanding and caves were the means of the wealthy to display zeal and purchase merit. Like cathedrals of Europe, these religious efforts extended over centuries. We then visited Xi’An, the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang and the famous Terra Cotta Warriors. We passed on visiting Xi’an on this trip, but the tombs and the warriors are a breathtaking spectacle.
Our trip is to follow the Northern Portion of the Silk Road and visit the major Buddhist caves along the route. We start in the western Province of China called Xinjiang and pass into the Province of Gansu and the Hexi Corridor. We finally end in Luoyang in Henan Province.
Urumqi – The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum – A great starting point for an overview of the history of the region. I heard it has a great collection of mummies.
Kuqa (Kuche) – This city is south of Urumqi and not part of the Northern Silk Road, but was a major cultural hub in the 3rd or 4th century. Visiting Kizil and hopefully Kumtura Caves.
Turfan (Turpan) – Back to the Northern route. This is not far from Urumqi and the next major oasis. Visiting Bezeklik Caves and Astana Tombs.
Dunhuang – The major tourist site along the route. Well known for the Mogao Caves and Yulin Caves.
Jiayuguan – No caves here, but the western end of the Great Wall and then the Weijin Tombs.
Zhangye – The Mati Si caves.
Lanzhou and Xiahe – Travel to the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe and then the Bingling Si caves.
Tianshui – Visit Maji Shan Caves.
Luoyang – Longmen Caves.
I have also omitted Yungang Grottoes in Datong. They are closer to Beijing and I hope to visit them in a future trip.
The goal is to see the nine Buddhist cave sites in ten cities in twenty three days. Follow, us on www.overseventy.xyz as we travel the route.
www.overseventy.xyz : Expand your mind. Stretch your body.