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Exploring China’s Longmen Grottoes

Art galleries are not to everyone’s taste, but where do you go to get your culture fix if the likes of the Louvre and the Tate aren’t for you?

Luoyang – Boddhisatvas at Longmen Grotto

Dotted all over the world there are amazing cultural sites out in the great outdoors where people can see carvings, paintings and statues in the environments where they were meant to be displayed, but few are as impressive as the Longmen Grottoes in China.

Dating back to the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties, the Grottoes are home to one of the greatest collections of Chinese art in the world. Located within the cavernous space, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2000, are approximately 100,000 statutes of Buddha, as well as other carvings and pagodas. There are also historical materials concerning art, music, religion, calligraphy, medicine, costume and architecture stored in the caves.

Statues of Buddha at the Longmen Grottoes

The grottoes were started in the year 493 and measure about 1,000 metres from north to south. All in all there are around 2,300 holes and niches, 2,800 steles, 40 dagobas and 1,300 caves to explore, which is certainly more rooms than any museum!

If you’ve only got a day to explore and trekking through over a thousand caves seems like a bit of a tall order, we recommend you head for the Fengxian Temple, which is the largest within the Grottoes and contains the breathtaking Vairocana Buddha statute which measures around 17 metres in total.

It is also well worth fitting in a visit to the Wanfo Cave which contains 15,000 small Buddha statutes within its two rooms, as well as a statue of Kwan-yin and lifelike carvings of singers and dancers which decorate the walls and ceiling.

So if you want a real cultural experience beyond museums and art galleries, make sure you include a day at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang on your itinerary when in China.

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