Gansu Attractions

Grottoes In Gansu


Gansu Province enjoys rich culture heritage. Diverse cultures add radiance and beauty to each other here—Silk Road Culture, Yellow River Culture, the Great Wall Culture, and Ancestral Culture. Now, there are 2 World Cultural Heritages, 8 Excellent Tourism Cities, 18 National Intangible Cultural Heritages, 8 National Historical and Cultural Cities and Towns,as well as 72 Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level in Gansu. In this page,we will list the top four grotoes in Gansu Province.


No.1:  Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes

Mogao Grottoes, also known as "the Thousand Buddha Caves", praised as "a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road", is a shrine of Buddhist art treasures in China.  Located 25 km from downtown Dunhuang, Mogao caves are carved out of the sandstone cliffs of the Singing Sand (Mingsha) Mountains.Stretching foe over 1600 meters from south to north, Mogao Grottoes still keep 735 caves well-preserved with 4.5 square meters murals, 2415 colored clay statues and more than 50,000 historical relic, from all of which a new study – Dunhaung Studies – derived. Due to its brilliance in ancient culture, Mogao Grottoes was added to the World Cultural Heritage list by the UNESCO in 1987.

Hailed as the most valuable cultural discovery in the 20th century, Mogao Grottoes gets great fame all over the world for exquisite murals and sculptures. The construction started from year 366 during the Sixteen Kingdoms Period (304-439) and lasted in following dynasties for almost one thousand and five hundred years, which make Mogao Grottoes a sacred land of Buddhism finnaly. 


No.2: Western Thousand-Buddha Cave

The West Thousand-Buddhist CaveThe Western Thousand-Buddha Cave,a part of the Mogao Grottoes,is located to the west of Mogao Grottoes and is set into a cliff on the northern bank of the Dang River(党河).The Western Thousand-Buddha Cave is considered as one of the important components of Dunhuang Buddhist art because the frescos in this cave are similar in structure and artistic style to those in Mogao Caves. Although the exact ages of the caves have not been known yet, it was said that this cave may have been dug earlier than Mogao Grottoes according to the records stored in Paris

Due to various natural and man-made destructions, Western Thousand-Buddha Cave has a similar experience of rise and fall with Mogao Grottoes. As a result, the cherished art treasures have suffered heavy losses. In 1980s, some caverns have already in a dreadful state of dilapidation and some of them would even collapse at all times. In recent years, the cave has been repaired and reinforced by the government so that the safe corridors along the cliff offer adequate security to tourists. Today, Western Thousand-Buddha Cave has been effectively protected and some ten caverns are open to the tourists, becoming a necessary spot for traveling from Dunhuang to Yangguan.


No.3: Maiji Caves in Tianshui

Maijingshan Maijishan Grottoes are located in Maijishan National Geopark which is 45 kilometers southeast of Tianshui City in Gansu Province.  On the sheer cliff that marks the southwest side of Maiji Mountain, people have labored for centuries carving niches and caves, giving rise to what is known today as the Maiji Caves. These caves were included on the World Heritage List on June 22, 2014.Inside the caves are clay statues, whose heights vary from 20 centimeters to 15 meters. Besides 194 Buddhist caves and niches, containing more than 7, 200 clay statues, there are also murals of over 1, 300 square meters in the Maiji Caves as well. These statues are works of art that reflect ancient craftsmanship and dedication to the Buddhist ideal. Rarely can one find caves and statues carved over sheer cliffs in China, and this is one of the most distinguishing features of Maiji Caves. Being carved on the cliff, these caves are connected by plank roads that hang precariously along the face of the cliff. Visitors can only reach each cave by using these plank roads, which offers a breathtaking experience.


No.4: Bingling Thousand Buddha Cave

Bingling Caves1.jpgBingling Thousand Buddha Caves is located on the Small Jishi Hill, about 35 kilometers west of Yongjing County in Lanzhou City. Being one of the very noted four caves in China, it is the second to Mogao Caves in respect of artistic value and was added to the World Heritage List on June 22, 2014. Bingling means 'ten thousand Buddhas' in the Tibetan language. The starting construction time of Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves dates back to the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). In the following dynasties, the caves had been excavated many times. There are now 183 niches, 694 stone statues, 82 clay sculptures and some 900 square meters' of murals, which are all well preserved. Famous for its stone sculptures, Bingling Thousand Temple Caves stretches about 200 meters onthe west cliff in Dasi Gully. Among the caves, the main characters are Sakyamuni, Kwan-yin, Amitayus Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, and other Buddhas. 


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