Dunhuang Travel China

Dunhuang Travel The Mogao Grottoes

Also named "Thousand-Buddha Caves", the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang is situated on the cliff of The Mingsha Mountain, about 25km southeast of the Dunhuang Town. Stretching 1600 meters from south to north, it is a Buddhism treasure trove of art with a longstanding history of over 1600 years. Despits of the natural erosion and the human destruction,

there are still 492 caves fully reserved. Within those caves, murals cover a total wall space of some 45,000 square meters and the number of the painted clay sculptures still in existence is 2,415. there are also five surviving timber structures whose history dates back to Tang and Song Dynasties. Hence the Mogao Grottoes can be ranked as the best preserved and the largest treasure trove of Buddhism arts not only in our country but also in the world. In 1989, the United Nation listed it as one of the cultural relics under special protection. In 1991, the UNESCO gave a formal testimonial to the Chinese government as to list the grottoes as a "worldwide cultural heritage". In the same year, it was also valued by the National Tourism Administration as one of the "forty best scenic spots across the country".

Xiqianfodong Caves

Xiqianfodong Caves or the Western Thousand Buddha Caves is thus named for its location is in the west of Mogao Grottoes. There are 17 caves, all built in the same time as Mogao Grottoes. Those caves bear a great resemblance to Mogao Grottoes in the construction, painted clay sculptures and the murals. They are also an important part in the splendid Dunhuang arts.

The Baima Tower

The Baima Tower or the White Horse Tower was constructed in 386 A.D. it is said that the tower was in memory of the white horse of a respectful monk named Jiumoluoshi. It was here that the horse died from disease and was buried by the monk who was then on his tour to the east to publicize Buddhism. The Tower is a nine-storied structure, about 12 meters high and 7 meters wide in diameter. After several times of renovation,

the tower now regains its splendid outlook of the past and becomes a good place for sightseeing in Dunhuang.

Leiyin Temple

Leiyin Temple covers a total area of 43 Chinese mu, specifically 3,000 square meters in construction. The name of the temple, three Chinese characters appeared on the horizontal board on the gate of the temple is written by Zhao Puchu, the Chief of Chinese Buddhist Association. In the temple, there are 37 sculptures of Buddha, Bodhisattva, arhat, and disciples.

On the first and 15th of each month according to the lunar calendar, the temple will see groups of tourists and local Buddhist believers swarming in to hold Buddhist services.

Xiyun aoist Abbey

Firstly built in 1730, the Xiyun Taoist Abbey remains to be the only Taoist construction in Dunhuang. It was said that the abbey was originally constructed in the southern suburbs of the county. After a whole night of pile driving construction in the great hall, the abbey automatically moved to the present site. People regarded that as a will of God, and feared not to move it back. During the construction,

there came, from the west, several floating clouds to shadow the strong sunlight for workers, so the abbey was named Xiyun Abbey, i.e. the Western Clouds Taoist Abbey.

Sanwei Fairyland

The Sanwei Fairyland is known for its magnificence, elegance and steepness. "The precipitous peaks standing against each other in the east" is one of the traditional sightseeing spots in Dunhuang. Peaks after peaks are stretching a dozen li, with the main peak of Sanwei Mountains overlooking Mogao Grottoes across the Daquan River. The legend has it that the Empress of Heaven, the Goddess of Mercy and the High Lord of Heaven all once came to visit Sanwei Mountains.

The ancient memorial construction like Wangmu Palace, (The Palace of the Empress of Heaven) Guanyin Cell (the Cell of the Goddess of Mercy) and the Laojun Hall (the Hall of the High Lord of Heaven) can still be seen today. 1600 years ago, the monk Yue Seng once traveled here and saw the amazing spectacle of a myriad of images of Buddha in the golden light, so he hewed out the first cave shrine in Dunhuang. The legend makes the Sanwei Fairyland more mysterious and respectful. Now a lot of temples, abbeys, corridors, towers and pavilions such as the Hall of the Goddess of Mercy, the Temple of Peacefulness, the Huge Buddha in the open air are throughout the scenic area and draw a great number of tourists and Buddhism believers to worship and hold services.

Yulin Grottoes in Anxi

Yulin Grottoes, also called "Ten Thousand-Buddha Gorges", are the sister caves of Dunhuang Grottoes. There are now 42 caves here, in which there are 5,650 murals and 272 painted sculptures built in the same time with Mogao Grottoes. Among them, No.25 cave, built in the middle of Tang Dynasty is the most magnificent part. The colors and strokes are carefully designed in drawing the murals, which give them a closely-knitted lay-out, vivid characters,

rich imaginations, powerful yet smooth strokes and splendid colors. The cave is known to the world mainly for the precious ivory Buddha sculpture, which was once treasured here.

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