Yungang Grottoes

buddhist cave art in the yungang grottoes

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With Le back into full-time work, time has just been slipping away. It has been over six months since we returned from our last overseas trip and we just are getting edgy to plan our next one.

At the moment, we have a few short local getaways planned but we are hoping for an overseas trip at some point for 2-3 weeks at the end of the year. We’ll see how it pans out.

In the meantime, let’s go down memory lane for a little bit. We thought we would look back on a UNESCO site that we visited back in 2012….

It was April 2012, and we were in China. We were rather unaware that it was still going to be COLD…. So very very cold!

The day we went to Yungang Grottoes it was absolutely freezing and windy. We can recall so clearly how we had the hoods of our windbreakers pulled tightly over our “beanied” heads, our scarves wrapped around our necks and up around our faces… just enough to reveal our eyes.

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The cold air was slicing through us despite our multiple layers…

But walking around the grottoes in that cold air was worth it! It was worth every teeth chatter, it was worth every shiver, it was worth the sting on our cheeks from the wind.

Before arriving at the caves, we walk down a path with tall majestic carved columns, then over a bridge with the frozen lake below.

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We had no idea what we were in for…

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There are more than 250 caves and more than 50 000 carved statues of all shapes and sizes. Impossible to see them all in the time we had there.

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The sizes of the statues vary from tiny to massive – some are inside the caves while others are outside.

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The level of detail on the carvings was mindboggling. And to think this artwork dates back to the 5th and 6th Century, it had us in complete awe.

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The visit to these grottoes was definitely an experience to remember for many reasons. By the end of that day, our cheeks were frozen solid!

 

Yungang Grottoes was listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 2001.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, visit our unofficial bucket list

 

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weekly photo challenge: threes

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We learnt about the 3-picture story this week from The Daily Post and that turns out to be the theme for the photo challenge.

This photo story is from our visit to the Yungang Grottoes in China.

Yungang Grottoes
Yungang Grottoes
The tallest buddha
The tallest buddha at 17 metres
The smallest buddhas
The smallest buddhas

 

a place in the cliff face

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There are many a-times when we travel that we have seen things that make our jaws drop. There are other times where we’ve been disappointed because something is an anti-climax! And then there are times where we are so utterly speechless after seeing something that is simply mind-blowing, so much so that we are overcome with emotion that brings tears to our eyes. The moment where we pinch ourselves and say to each other, “Oh-mi-gosh! We are really here. And seeing this in real life and not just in pictures!” So what the heck are we raving about?

Hanging Monastery
Hanging Monastery

Imagine a temple built 1500 years ago with elements from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucian. A very picturesque temple, narrow and sparse on internal space, but picturesque all the same. Now imagine that same temple elevated 75 metres above ground, not a high-rise, not sitting on top of a mountain but built into the cliff face of the mountain and held in place with some wooden logs. This is the Hanging Monastery (nearest city is Datong). The Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors gets a lot of tourist attention but worthy of nudging those two aside is definitely the Hanging Monastery.

To be fair, it could have been that due to the few tourists there that made the experience all the more gratifying! To think about, if there were a lot of tourists swarming the place, we probably would’ve thought twice about climbing through it – would that structure hold us??! So fortunately the low numbers gave us confidence to climb and climb…. although a little unnerving as the winds were fierce and blowing a-gale and step too close to the ledge and that would’ve been the quickest route back to the coach! Never in our  wildest dreams would we have thought that we would be here and done that! After that experience, it definitely has rocketed up to number one as our most favourite historical site EVER (yep, a pretty big call).

Little Buddhas
Little Buddhas

A few other highlights of this region were:

  • Yungang Buddhist Grottoes (UNESCO Heritage-listed), walking along and viewing the temples and thousands of buddhas carved in the grottoes. We saw a Buddha that was 17 metres tall and ones that were as small as our palms
  • Catching glimpses of the original Great Wall of China which are still intact but have not been restored
  • Visiting the first Buddhist temple in China.
Original Great Wall
Original Great Wall
Wutaishan
Wutaishan