UNESCO has also listed Longmen Grottoes in World Cultural Heritage Site.
Longmen Grottoes have served to be a home of a number of Chinese dynasties over the past centuries, it’s a sublime example of Buddhist caves and art. These caves of Buddhist are located along the “Yi River“, it’s about 10 KM away from another tourist attraction Luoyang, which is another ancient city
Luoyang is located in the western part of Henan province. It is (by Chinese standards) a medium size city of about 7 million people. Luoyang is among the oldest cities of China and considered to be one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. It is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, and served as the capital of 13 different dynasties. The first capital in this area near the intersection of the Luo and Yi River was established in 2070 BC during the Xia Dynasty. The name Luoyang first appeared as the capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty in 25 AD. In 166 AD the first mission from the Roman Empire reached Luoyang.
The Longmen Grottoes
The Longmen Grottoes are truly one of the most stunning sites and one of the finest examples of Buddhist art to be found anywhere in China. They are a series of man-made caves and grottoes containing thousands of buddha statues, which were carved out of the limestone cliffs along a 1 km stretch on either side of the Yi River starting over 1,500 years ago. The sheer numbers of caves and statues are truly mind-boggling: There are 1,400 caves, which contain about 100,000 Buddha statues, ranging in size from a few centimeters to almost 20 meters in height. In addition, there are about 2,500 carved stelae with inscriptions and over 60 pagodas.
The grottoes were carved in several distinct stages over a period ranging from 493 AD to 1127 AD, during the dynasties of the Northern Wei (493-534), Siu (581-618), Tang (618-907) and Northern Song (960-1127). The peak of the creation of the grottoes came during the Tang dynasty, and it is estimated that about 60% of all the caves, including some of the most monumental statues, were created in the second half of the 7th and early part of the 8th century.
The Grottoes were highly valued and recognized during the Ming and Qing dynasties but suffered significant damage in the early 20th century. Many artifacts were stolen by souvenir hunters or destroyed by vandalism. The site was looted by the Japanese army during the second Sino-Japanese war (1937-45), and many of the buddha statues are now found in Japanese museums. And although the grottoes were declared a protected area in 1949 and a national cultural monument in 1961, many more statues were decapitated and destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.
The number of these caves are around 2100 along with it there are numerous Buddha sculptures and statues. There are around 3600 stone tablets which are inscribed with different scripts and art work, most of the statutes have name of artists who made them inscribed upon it.
Longmen Grottoes are considered one of the most important Buddhist ruins, great number of tourists visit these sites to see the amazing work of Buddhist monks. The inscriptions on the stones have diverse field knowledge, even cures from different diseases is mentioned on those stones, there are some remedies that are still in use even after thousands of year. Chinese government is doing their best to preserve the artwork of Buddhists and they have arranged everything to make it comfortable for the visiting tourists.
In 2003 Chinese government made large scale renovation to preserve these sites.
- Qianxi Temple
- Three Bonyangdong Caves
- Middle Cave
- Wanfo Cave
- Lotus Cave
- Temple of Fengxian
- Temple of Xiangshan
- Tomb of Baijuyi
- District Qinggu
- Hall of Letian
Over around 2 centuries ago, this mountain carving was started by the Wei Dynasty, and then they started expanding it sideways and now it stands as one of the largest ruin sites of Buddhists.
The carvings were ordered by the emperors of the dynasties, a great number of dynasties took part in carving these caves over the time span of 500 years. The site was damaged a lot in the 9th century, a number of statues were destroyed when the Anti-Buddhist campaign was started.
In 19th century travelers from different continents discovered this site and starting looting the treasures present inside these caves. In the search of treasures, many statues were destroyed and this sacred place was maltreated.
These sites of Longmen Grottoes are now labeled in English for a better understanding of tourists, you’ll be astonished to see how ancient people carved the mountains for accommodation, this site is stretched over 1000 meters.
The grotto was first carved in the North Wei Dynasty, over 1,500 years ago, and was expanded through the succeeding East and West Wei Dynasties, North Qi Dynasty, North Zhou Dynasty, Sui and Tang Dynasties, and was finally completed in the North Song Dynasty.
500 years of renovation and expansion have created this prestigious world cultural site. The most significant chiseling activities happened in the Tang and North Wei Dynasties, which lasted over 150 years.