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Subash Temple ruinsSubash Temple ruins is located 20 kilometers northwest of Kuqa County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is located on the alluvial plain of Kuqa River in the south of the Queletag Mountain, with altitude about 1150 meters. The Subash Buddhist Temple ruins consist mainly of two Buddhist temple sites on the east and west sides of the Kuqa River.  covering about 190,000 square meter, . It is mainly composed of stupas, temples, caves, Buddhist houses and other buildings. The Kucha River flows by, dividing the temple in two – aptly named the east and west temples. In the Uygur language, Subash means water source. In November 1996, the site of the Subash Temple was announced by the State Council as the fourth batch of national key cultural relics protection units.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

The temple was first built during the Wei-Jin Dynasties (220-420). Elite Kucha monk Kumarajiva (344-413) used to preach here. He is thought to have revolutionized Chinese Buddhism with his abundant sutra translations.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Subash Temple saw its heyday during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when it was home to 10,000 monks and received numerous pilgrims. It welcomed legendary monk Xuanzang, who was on a journey west from the then capital Chang’an to ancient India in the 630s. He stayed in Subash and preached there for over two months. In his travelogue Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, Xuanzang described the natural scenery of Subash and the endless stream of devout pilgrims who journeyed there. However, at some point during the 13th to the mid-14th centuries, the temple was abandoned.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Unoccupied for about 1,000 years, the ruins still amaze visitors. Against the backdrop of the open and vast desert, crumbling pagodas are bathed in the golden beams of sunshine. They tell us of past glory.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

For about 1,000 years, Subash Temple had great significance in China’s Western Regions and played a pivotal role in cultural communication between East and West. The ruins are highly regarded for their historical, artistic, scientific, and social value. The temple’s construction utilized various typical techniques that can be seen in earthen ruins of arid Northwest China and even in Central Asia.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

In the west part of the temple, quite a few Buddhist constructions still stand, including the north, west, and south walls of the main hall. The hall was about 318 meters in circumference, and encompassed a small hall inside and Buddha niches in the walls. Outside the main hall, monks’ dormitories and meditation rooms were situated in the west, while in the north were caves dug into the cliffside about 50 meters away where monks retreated for meditation. There are few murals inside these caves, and characters inscribed on the wall have been identified as ancient Kucha. The style of these meditation caves is unique to Subash.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Sixty meters west of the main hall is the most spectacular pagoda. It sits on a square base, with a slope on the south side directly leading to the second level, on which a stone pillar was erected in the center supporting the roof. This is the only place in Aksu Prefecture, where Kucha is located, where this form of pagoda can be seen. The 13.2-meter-high pagoda is the best preserved structure in the west temple.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Historical records show that after reunifying the Western Regions during the Tang Dynasty, the country enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. In 656, the emperor ordered that Kucha be made the seat of the administrative body of the west, aka the Protectorate of General to Pacify the West. Kucha was then more influenced by the Central Plains Buddhism as communication with the inland strengthened. Under this circumstance, the culture and art of Kucha Buddhism, just like the unearthed Han-style pagoda shows, integrated inland elements and developed new features. tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Sarira CaskeIn 1903, a Japanese exploration team led by Otani Kozui unearthed a wooden box in Subash and kept it as plunder in Tokyo National Museum. The box, made for preserving  Buddhist relics, is decorated with paintings of four naked children playing instruments on the lid and a dancing picture on the side. Three years later, French archeologist Paul Pelliot carried out an excavation here and is believed to have stolen seven exquisite boxes containing Buddhist relics.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Other excavated items include Chinese coins dating from the Han Dynasty (202 BC- AD 220) to the Tang Dynasty, silver coins depicting Khosrow II of the Sassanian Persian Empire, murals, clay sculptures, and wooden slips carved with ancient ethnic characters.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

A sarira, a Buddhist relic box of the 6th-7th century, discovered in Subashi shows Central Asian men in long tunics, reminiscent of other friezes which have been called Tocharian.tspSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours



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General Information

Alias: Zhaohuli Temple
Loc: 20 km from kuqa
Entrance: 25 RMB
Open Time: 08:00~18:00


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