Ruins of a Buddhist temple stand in the blazing sun in China’s largest desert, Taklimakan Desert. The square-shaped base and columned body of the temple could be seen dimly on the foot of a huge dune. It tells the glories history of the human civilization existed here.
Niya ruins. (Xinhuanet，Shi Yiling)
Leaving Minfeng county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which is located on the southern route of the ancient silk road, the reporter traveled north. One hour later, the reporter met the tour guide Qeyser Mehmut in a village. 54 years old, skinny Qeyser looked ten years older than his actual age. He has been the tour guide of Niya ruins for 26 years, and he knew every dune and ditch in this desert.
(Qeyser Mehmut, the first from right)
It not easy to get close to the ruins. After two hours struggling sand dunes along treacherous route, the reporter saw the ruins of the Buddhist temple.
Dried poplar (populus euphratica) in the Niya ruins. (Photo by Jiafei)
Driving in the Taklamakan Desert. (Xinhuanet，Shi Yiling)
According to Eziz Abdurixit, local official from Hotan Culture and Tourism Bureau, centered on the temple, Niya ruins extend 25 kilometers from south to north, and 5 to 7 kilometer from west to east. In this long and narrow area, there are more than 70 ruins, including houses, graves, orchards, vineyards and so on.
Eziz Abdurixit (second from right) introduces Niya ruins. (Photo by Jiafei)
The Niya ruins, known as the Pompeii on the ancient Silk Road, were the site of the ancient Jingjue Kingdom set up at an oasis by the Niya River during the Han (206 BC-AD 220) and Jin (265-420 AD) dynasties.
It’s been 120 years since Niya ruins was known in 1901, when a British explorer discovered them in the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang.
A large number of exquisite cultural relics have been unearthed. Especially in the Sino-Japanese joint exploration in 1995, among the relics, the most famous is that a piece of brocade with eight Chinese Characters that literally read “Five stars rise in the East, benefiting China.”
There are five-star patterns and auspicious birds and animals on the brocade. The word “Five stars rise in the East, benefiting China” were woven between the patterns.
The fence and wooden walkway built around the Niya ruins. (Photo by Jiafei)
Among the ruins, a large house remains, about 1500 square meters, arose the attention. The lobby, corridor, kitchen, living room, and bedroom are still visible.
A large house remains in Niya ruins. (Xinhuanet, Shi Yiling.)
Walls built of rose willow and reed. (Xinhuanet, Shi Yiling.)
Next to the house, in an orchard remains, there are dried elm, willow, mulberry tree and various kinds of dead trees. And a sheep pen near the house is kept well, where people can still clearly see the black sheep manure. In the vineyard remains, 9 rows of neatly arranged vines remains lie in a 50 meters long and 30 meters wide area in the sand.
Sheep pen. (Xinhuanet, Shi Yiling.)
The remains of a vineyard in the Niya ruins. (Xinhuanet, Shi Yiling.)
The ruins of Niya, is the site of Jingjue kingdom, of which the historical records are limited. According to the archaeological excavation, it seems that the dwellers of the kingdom had abandoned their homes in a rush. What was going on when they fled in a hurry? No one knows why, and probably never will.