Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes 400
Yungang Grottoe in China
Photo by: Patrick Streule, Creative Commons

The colossal statues and remarkable sculptures of Yungang Grottoes match China’s large surface area, making it a must-see tourist spot. Located at the foot of Wuzhou Mountain, Yungang entices visitors from around the globe with its gigantic grottoes that were carved out from the stony and earthy mountain’s side.

A monk named Tan Yao is believed to have had the grottoes built around 453 AD. Given the superb artistic forms of the grottoes today, it’s quite amazing that the whole place took 50 years to be finished. There were about 40,000 Buddhists who helped build the place.

There are 53 caves in Yungang Grottoes, which contains 51,000 statues and 1,000 nooks. Tourists are left in awe upon seeing the grandeur that only comes from the hard work and determination of those who had it built. The huge statues showcases traditional Chinese artistry and design with just the right amount of Greek and Indian influence. One example of China’s impeccable taste for art is the 17-meter high Buddha located in Grotto No. 5

Yungang Grottoes has three areas: the east, west, and middle part. In the east are Grottoes No. 1 and 2. Sculptures on this side have sustained minor damages due to different weather conditions it has endured during its lifetime. In the west are grottoes that include one of the TanYao’s earliest caves. Here, rests the statue of Sakyamuni, a figure similar to Buddha sculptures complete with a smiling face and big body. The artforms in the western portion are more intricate, a mastery in sculpting. The middle grotto part is considered to have highest value for it was made earlier than the two other sections. Here, Buddhist carvings are predominantly displayed.

Yungang Grottoes was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. It is located in Shanxi Province, Datong City, Western Suburbs, south of Wu Zhou Mountain.

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