The Flaming Mountains

The Flaming Mountains  are so named because in the evenings the red clay mountains reflect the heat and glow of the desert and seem to burn. Situated on the northern edge of the Turpan basin, and stretching over 100 km long and 10 km wide, this is an intensely hot part of the desert without a single blade of grass to be seen for miles. In the severe heat of July, the mountains seem to be on fire in the burning sun and become a purplish-brown color. Hot steam rises upwards from the burning cliffs and it is no surprise that this is where the hottest temperatures in China ever, were recorded.
The Flaming Mountains (Huo Yan Shan) The Flaming Mountains (Huo Yan Shan)
The mountains lie 10 km (6.2miles) east of Turpan city, covering about 100 km (62miles) from east to west with a width of 9 km (5.6miles). The average height is 500m (1640feet), while the 831-meter (2726-foot) - high peak rises above Shengjinkou, a vital pass of the ancient city of Gaochang.

The Flaming Mountains are very popular thanks to a classical novel, The Journey to the West by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) writer, 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 off the oven for making immortal pills. Charcoals fell from the sky to where the Flaming Mountain now lies-- in the middle of Turpan Basin.

According to the Uygur version, a vicious dragon lived in deep Tianshan Mountain and ate little children. A Uygur hero fought gallantly against the dragon for three days and three nights and cut the dragon into eight parts. The remains of the dragon turned to a scarlet mountain colored by its blood. The eight scars turned into the eight valleys in the Flaming Mountain, including the famous Grape Valley.

Scientific explanation cites tectonic plate movement on the earth's surface during the formation of the Himalayas 50,000,000 years ago. The mountain is barren and extremely hot in summer. During the trek approaching the mountain, visitors will find the soles of their shoes soften in the intense heat. With the red sun overhead, the red mountain looks like a fiery dragon-truly an unforgettable spectacle!

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