Longmen Caves, Luoyang, China

West side

The Longmen Caves drew me to Henan. I’d seen photos of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and found the caves with the tens of thousands of sculptures mesmerizing and mysterious. UNESCO’s site briefly explains their historic and cultural significance stating,:

“The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone carving.”

Though it’s a bit difficult to get to Luoyang as there are fewer trains then for destinations like Beijing or Qingdao, my friend and I were up for the journey.

Once we got to Luoyang, getting to the caves was simple. Our hostel was on a main street and a bus that went down it took us to the caves. In fact, three public buses go to the caves so you can get there for just 1 rmb, with no hassle.

The tickets are pricey at 120 rmb. Bear in mind that it’s 40 rmb to see the Forbidden City. Towns like Luoyang or Taian charge hefty entrance fees because “we only have this one site.” Well, overseas tourists can afford it, but a lot of Chinese folks can’t. That’s a shame. I wonder if they have free days. They want to limit the crowds but some free days with reservations could work.

See how their heads are missing

Many of the figures have been vandalized either as art theft or during periods when Buddhism fell out of favor. During some eras monks would have to follow Confucian practices. Since they were celibate, the younger monks were considered “sons” to the older “fathers” and that’s how they stayed on good terms with the powerful.

I learned that the West side of the river was used by pilgrims, while the east side, where there are fewer carvings, was for monks’ exclusive rites.

About smkelly8

writer, teacher, movie lover, traveler, reader
This entry was posted in Activity, Asia, Culture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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