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Longmen Grottoes
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Longmen Grottoes
 
 
 

The Longmen Grottoes are located in the south of Luoyang City. They are between Mount Xiang and Mount Longmen and face Yi River. Longmen Grottoes, Yungang Caves and Mogao Caves are regarded as the three most famous treasure houses of stone inscriptions in China.

The grottoes were started around the year 493 when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) moved the capital to Luoyang and were continuously built during the 400 years until the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The scenery measures 1,000 metres (about 1,094 yards) from north to south where there are over 2,300 holes and niches, 2,800 steles, 40 dagobas, 1,300 caves and 100,000 statues.  Most of them are the works of the Northern Wei Dynasty and the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Lots of historical materials concerning art, music, religion, calligraphy, medicine, costume and architecture are kept in Longmen Grottoes.  

 Twenty Inscriptions of Longmen Grottoes

  Fengxian Temple
Longmen Grottoes faces the Yi River.Fengxian Temple was built in the Tang Dynasty and it is the largest grotto in Longmen Temple with a width of 36 metres (about 118 feet) and a length of 41 metres (about 136 feet). There are nine major figures of various facial appearances and temperaments in the temple that were built in accordance with the Buddhist rite and their relationships by the artists. 

The most impressive figure is the statue of Vairocana Buddha sitting cross-legged on the eight-square lotus throne. It is 17.14 metres (about 56.23 feet) in total height with the head four metres (about 13 feet) in height and the ears 1.9 metres (about 6.2 feet) in length. Vairocana means illuminating all things in the sutra. The Buddha has a well-filled figure, a sacred and kindly expression and an elegant smile. According to the record on the epigraph, the Empress Wu Zetian together with her subjects took part in the ceremony of Introducing the Light (a Buddhist blessing that the Buddha opens the spiritual light of himself and shares it with others).

 

At the sides of Vairocana there are two statues of Vairocana Buddha's disciples, Kasyapa and Ananda, wearing prudent and devout expressions. The figures of Bodhisattvas and devas can also be found in the temple. Some have dignified and genial expressions, while others are majestic and fiery. The various appearances and delicate designs are the representations of Empire Tang's powerful material and spiritual strength as well as the high crystallization of people's wisdoms.

 Wanfo Cave
Lotus-Flower Cave, Longmen GrottoesWanfo Cave, completed in 680, is a typical chronological cave of the Tang Dynasty of two rooms and square flat roofs. Its name is due to the 15,000 small statues of Buddha chiseled in the southern and northern walls of the cave. The main Buddha Amida sits on the lotus Sumeru throne, having a composed and solemn face. The wall behind Amida is carved with 54 lotuses upon which there are 54 Bodhisattvas in different shapes and with various expressions.

In addition, there are lifelike reliefs of pretty and charming singers and dancers on the wall. The singers are accompanied by various kinds of instruments and the dancers dance lightly and gracefully to the music. The whole model in the cave has created a lively and cheerful atmosphere. On the southern wall outside the cave is carved a statue of Kwan-yin of 85 centimetres (about 33 inches) in height, holding a pure bottle in the left hand and deer's tails (as a symbol of brushing off the dust in spirit) in the right hand. This figure is well designed and is regarded as an example of Bodhisattva statues of Tang Dynasty in Longmen.

 Guyang Cave
Guyang Cave is the earliest cave in Longmen Grottoes. There are three tiers of niches on the northern and southern wall of the cave, in which are hundreds of statues, and most of the statues are engraved with the names of the artists, the dates and the reasons for carving them. The sculptures are of diverse shapes and patterns that are representations of the Gandhara Art style after the grotto art transmitted to Luoyang. A statue of Sakyamuni is situated in the middle with a whole height of 7.82 meters (about 25.66 feet). Nineteen of the most famous Twenty Calligraphies are found in Guyang Cave. Twenty Calligraphies represent the steles of the Wei's style, which are the essentials of stele calligraphies in Longmen Grottoes.

 Binyang Cave
The statue of Vairocana Buddha, Fengxian Temple, Longmen GrottoesAfter the constructions of Guyang Cave, the royalty of the Northern Wei Dynasty constructed a series of lager scale caves, which are the northern, southern, and middle Binyang Caves. The middle cave, taking the longest time from 500 to 523, is the only one of the three finished during period of the Northern Wei. There are 11 big statues in the cave. Sakyamuni is of dignified and serene appearance, while his disciple and Bodhisattva are of slender figure and elegant look, which are the typical style of the late Northern Wei Dynasty. The floor is engraved with lotus patterns and on the rooftop is a rilievo of flourishing lotus flower.

 Lotus Cave (Lianhua Cave)
Chiseled grottoes on the base of the natural limestone caves are also seen in Longmen, and the Lotus Cave is one of this type. Differing from sitting statues, Sakyamuni is of standing figure, showing that he has trudged a long distance to develop Buddhism from India to China. A huge relief of a well sculpted lotus flower is engraved on the dome, seedpod in the centre, petals in the outer and each leaf with honeysuckle patterns. Around the lotus are six flying musicians with vivid gestures, as if they are dancing along with the melodies of the music.

In addition, there is Prescription Cave that has about 140 prescriptions engraved on the walls, showing the achievements of medicine in ancient China. Some of the prescriptions are still used today. Other caves and temples like Xiangshan TempleHuangfugong Cave, and Qianxi Temple can also be fond in Longmen Grottoes.

Admission Fee:

CNY 120
(CNY 100 from November 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011 to celebrate its 10-year anniversary  of being added to UNESCO World Heritage List, except  the New Year's Day Holiday and Spring Festival Holiday)

Opening Hours: 07:00 to 19:50 (March 1st to October 31st )
07:30 to 18:50 (November 1st to February 28th )
Bus Routes: 81, 53...

 

 


 Recommended Tours including the visit of Longmen Grottoes:
Spotlights of Luoyang: 3 days to visit Shaolin Temple & White Horse Temple, etc
One- Day Express Train to Luoyang: Express train tour to visit Shaolin Temple and Longmen Caves 
Ancient Capitals Xian & Luoyang: 5-day tour to visit the popular attractions of these two ancient cities

 
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Questions & Answers on Longmen Grottoes

  1. Mar. 23, 2015 17:58Reply
    Asked by Wen from CANADA

    Will it be too rushed seeing Longmen Grottoes and the Shaolin Temple in one day?

    We plan to leave Beijing in the morning and take the high speed railway to Luoyang, spend the day seeing the Grottoes and the Shaolin Temple, and then take the train to Xian. We're flying from Xian to another city in a couple days, so we can only go from Beijing to Luoyang to Xian instead of Beijing to Xian to Luoyang. If we take the high speed rail in the morning and get to Luoyang at noon, will we have time to see the Grottoes and the Shaolin Temple before leaving for Xian at night?
    • Reply 1 0Mar. 24, 2015 02:33
      Answered by Tim from Romania
      Um, one day is too tight for these two spots. You are suggested to give up Shaolin Temple, and only go to the grottoes, which requires 4-5h for a good visit. Then you can head for Xian at the same night.
    • Reply 0 0Jun. 07, 2015 21:51
      Answered by Bart from Netherlands
      Just remember that one day is enough in Xi'an for the sightseeings.
  2. Mar. 23, 2015 01:00Reply
    Asked by huang mei lie from INDONESIA

    start from Luoyang Railway Station to Grottoes by bus 81 after that wanna going to Peony Park by 66

    i must return back to Railway station? or get off to change the bus? plz need your information. How to say Peony Park in chinese? plz hanzi and pinyin to written down to show it to the driver / local people. thanks
    • Reply 1 1Mar. 23, 2015 01:08
      Answered by Amanda from New Zealand
      There is no direct bus between the grottoes and the Peony Park. Transfer is needed, but you don't need to go back to the railway station. Just take bus no. 81 to Jinguyuan Road Chunqing Lukou bus stop. Then transfer to bus no. 51 to the Peony Park directly.

      In Pinyin, the Peony Park is mudanyuan and in Hanzi, it is 牡丹园.
  3. Dec. 13, 2014 05:32Reply
    Asked by Solaiman from INDONESIA

    How far the Longmen Grottoes from Luoyang City?

    this Dec I want to go to Beijing and stop by Luoyang
    Can I go from Luoyang by bus?
    • Reply 2 0Dec. 13, 2014 21:24
      Answered by Eva from Finland
      It’s about 8mi from the city center. 
      You can reach there by bus no. 81 from the railway station. And the taxi fare from Luoyang to the scenic spot is around CNY40.
  4. Sep. 25, 2014 00:09Reply
    Asked by maria from ECUADOR

    going from shanghai to Longmen Grottoes on october holiday

    can you make a tour package for 3 people on the october holiday. please let me know several options in 4 star hotel. thanks.
  5. Sep. 13, 2014 16:45Reply
    Asked by anne-marie logan from USA

    Visit to Longmen caves

    how many days to visit the caves?

    can you fly from Lanzhou? Can you fly to Shanghai?
    • Reply 1 0Sep. 13, 2014 20:51
      Answered by Josey from USA
      Generally, half a day is enough. If you wanna see the caves closely, one day is fine, for the night view of the caves are also very fascinating. 

      U can fly from Lanzhou to Zhengzhou. Then take shuttle bus to Zhengzhou Railway Station, where take a high speed train to LY Longmen station. After that, take a taxi to the caves. After all visiting, u can fly from LY to Shanghai.
 
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