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Longmen Grottoes

The Longmen Grottoes are located 12 kilometers south of Luoyang City of Henan Province, which are densely dotted along the two mountains, Xiangshan (to the east) and Longmenshan (to the west) The Yi River flows northward between them. Along with the Mogao Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, the Longmen Grottoes are one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites in China.

The grottoes were started in 493AD when Emperor Xiaowendi of the Northern Wei Dynasty moved the capital to Luoyang. The grottoes were expanded by the following dynasties and finally completed in North Song Dynasty. The grottoes depicted the Buddhist subject took more than 400 year to complete. It is estimated that the grottoes constructed in North Wei Dynasty account for 30%, in Tang Dynasty is about 60% and other dynasties about 10 %. There are over 2,100 niches, more than 100,000 statues, some 40 pagodas and 3,600 tablets and steles in Guyang, Binyang and Lianhua.

Binyang has three caves. The middle cave is the representative of North Wei Dynasty, which took 24 years to complete. There are 11 big Buddha in this cave. The most magnificent is the sculpture of Sakyamuni with his followers standing on the both sides. It is said that a unique and splendid embossment at entrance of the cave was stolen and now is collected in Museum of the City of New York. The south cave of Binyang was cut in North Wei Dynasty but some sculptures of Buddha were carved in early Tang Dynasty. The main Buddha in south cave is the Buddha of Immeasurable Life.

Guyang is situated in the south of Longmen Mountain which was carved in 493 AD. Guyang Cave enshrines the sculpture of Sakyamuni. The carvings on one niche lintel show the Buddhist story about how Siddhartha established Buddhism. There are hundreds of niches in Guyang Cave. This cave is not only full of Buddhist story but also well decorated.

Lotus Cave, also named Lianhua Cave in Chinese pronunciation, is renowned for empaistic lotus on the roof of the cave. Lotus, as the symbol of Buddhism, springs out of muddy water in the pond without carrying a trace of dirt. Lotus symbolizes a person with noble sentiment and great personnel charm. The figure of Sakyamuni also is the main Buddha in this cave. The smallest figure of Buddha Longmen Grottoes was carved here, which is only 2 centimeters high.

There are some other caves in Longmen Grottoes but these three caves are the most typical and representative. Most of the statues’ heads had been destroyed during the Opium War I & II and also during Eight-Nation Alliance

The Longmen Grottoes were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in November of 2000.

Travel Tips

Admission Fee: 120RMB per person

Opening Time:

8:00 – 18:00 (February 1st – March 31st)

7:30 – 22:00 (April 1st – October 7th)

7:30 – 18:00 (October 8th – October 31st )

8:00 – 16:00 (November 1st – January 1st of the following year)

How to get to: Take No.81 Bus at Luoyang Railway Station.