The oasis town of Kuqa (Kucge) was an important Buddhist city-state on the ancient Silk Road. It was here that Kumarajiva (AD 334?-413), the first great translator of Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese, was born to an Indian father and Kuqean princess, before later being abducted to Dunhuang and then Chang'an to manage translations of the Buddhist canon. When the 7th-century monk Xuanzang passed through, he recorded that two enormous 30m-high Buddha statues flanked Kuqa's western gate, and that the nearby monasteries held upwards of 5000 monks.
Though the numerous Buddhist caves and ruined vities bespeak of times past, sadly, modern-day Kuqa retains little of its former glory. It's now a bizarre juxtaposition of strip-mall architecture and traditional donkey cart life, and the main thing you'll get to of visit here is an accurate glimpse at how the Uighurs of today really live.