Yungang Grottos – worth the trip to Datong.

The second part of our tour in Datong took us to the Yungang grottoes. Half an hour outside of Datong, this site has more than 200 caves with 51,000 carvings and statues of Buddha.

Our excellent photographer managed to get us in to show the sheer size of this guy, which is the second largest buddha on site. Located in Cave #3, he was one of the first we saw, and definitely on of the most impressive.

The caves themselves were enormous and formed by digging into that window at the top to carve out the inside of the cave before knocking out  the door from the inside. This particular cave had a musical theme and all the little Buddhas carved around the entrance were playing musical instruments.

The detail and colours were amazing, even though some of the Buddhas were completely covered in coal dust blown from passing trucks. A few years ago, government officials ordered the road to be moved, so that the passing traffic would no longer affect the grottoes.

My favourite cave had carvings which told the story of the Buddha’s life, from conception to enlightenment.

While this particular Buddha’s enamel was eroded away, his arm is still held up by the man under his wrist. Some of the other similar sized Buddhas had lost their arms entirely.

The site was immense, much too large to fully explore during the two hours we spent there. However, we still had time to discover that not only is this site full of amazing cultural and historical value, they also sold excellent peanut brittle cookies in the gift shop.


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