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The Eight Historic Buddhist Grottoes in Shaanxi

When talking about Buddhist Grottoes, most people will think of the Four Great Grottoes. In fact, there are also many historic Buddhist grottoes in Shaanxi Province. At present there are 350 Buddhist cave groups discovered in Shaanxi. In this blog we’d like to share 8 of them.

Giant Buddha Temple Grottoes in Binxian County

It is the largest grottoes group in Shaanxi. It is also the largest and most exquisite Buddhist grottoes group created in the early & grand Tang period that survived in history. The Giant Buddha Temple Grottoes were dug at foot of mountain. 130 caves, 446 niches, and 1980 Buddha’s statues existed there. The earliest excavated cave are the “Giant Buddha Cave”. It is said in ancient time the Giant Buddha Cave was the mark of approaching Chang’an for travelers from west.

Zhongshan Grottoes in Zichang County

Zichang County in northern Shaanxi was the must-path on the north branch of ancient Silk Road. The Buddhist grottoes here were excavated in the Jin Dynasty (265-420). Nowadays 5 of the 18 existed grottoes are open to tourists. The most highlight feature of the caves are that their inner side walls are all carved with relief sculptures about Buddhism stories. And all Buddha statues remain their original colors, that make the statues more vivid. The most completely preserved cave is the Middle Cave which keeps 10,000 Buddha statues. Another remarkable feature of the grottoes is that all the statues in the caves were carved on the rocks in the grottoes instead of the materials somewhere else.

Xuankong Temple Grottoes in Yulin Town

It locates in the ruins of Luowucheng City of Xixia Kingdom. Due to its location, the grottoes here is called Xuankong Temple Grottoes (Hanging Temple Grottoes). Though it’s appearence is less eye-catching than the Hanging Temple in Datong, the Buddha statues here are the exquisite and attractive the same. According to historical record, Xuankong Temple here used to be part of Luowu City of the Xixia Kingdom(1038-1227). And the grottoes keeps statues of both Buddhist and Taoist figures. So it is a Buddhist & Taoist grottoes.

Shihong Temple Grottoes

Shihong Temple Grottoes is also known as Chuanzihe Grottoes. It locates on the north bank of Chuanzihe River and is 65km fron Fuping County, Yan’an city. The first grottoes were excavated in the Sui Dynasty (581-618). And the excavation of the Buddhist grottoes lasted for 1000+ years in the later Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties. One will find unique features of statues created in different dynasties.

Ten Thousand Buddha Grottoes

Qinliangshan Mountain locates at northeast of Yan’an city. In the mountain there exist grottoes excavated from the Sui to the Qing Dynasties. The grottoes group was named after the feature of the most exquisite cave. In that cave 10,000+ Buddha figures of various lookings and sizes were made.

Wanan Temple in Huangling County

Wanan Temple in Huangling County is a well known Buddhist temple in the song Dynasty. The grottoes here are the relics of the temple. The grottoes were dug on half way on the mountain. Going upstairs on can enter the caves.

Halazhai Buddhist Grottoes

Halazhai Grottoes in Fugu County has the Great Wall on its south and the Yellow River on its east. Inside the grottoes there are Tibetan Buddhist relief sculpture stupas, Buddha figures, and Buddhist sutra in Sanskrit. Besides there are also Tibetan and Mongolian language inscriptions. According to expert, the Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Mongolian and the Buddha statues; style are all typical works of Tibetan Buddhism. So it is the relics of Mongolian culture.

Cishan Temple Grottoes

Cishan Temple Grottoes locates 6km from Lingyou County of Baoji City. The grottoes was excavated in the Sui Dynasty, and in the Gaozong Era of the Tang Dynasty the grottoes scale was enlarged. Most existed grottoes are relics of the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907). Cishan Temple is the first imperial Buddhist temple of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The temple was built especially for the Emperors of the Sui and Tang Dynasties when then travelled to Linyou for summering. Nowadays there are 12 grottoes, 6 Buddha niches, and 47 Buddha statues preserved.