Luoyang's most revered Buddhist site and popular tourist attraction, the Longmen Grottoes (Lóngmén Shíkū, 龙门石窟) or "Dragon's Gate Grottoes", lie twelve kilometers (7.5 mi) to the south of the city center. Separated by the Yi River are Xiang Shan (eastern bank) and Longmen Shan (western bank), two mountains riddled with thousands of caves and niches featuring some of China's most spectacular rock carvings and inscriptions.
Work on the carvings began in the Northern Wei Dynasty (471-499 AD) and continued over the Sui Dynasty (581–619 AD) well into the Tang Dynasty (618-690 AD). There are plenty of nooks and crannies to poke your head/camera into, but there are five spots that shouldn't be missed.
Guyang Cave is the original, featuring more than one hundred small scale carvings of Buddha, highlighted by a 7.8 meter (25.5 ft) tall likeness of Sakyamuni—the first Buddha.
The next grotto to be completed was Binyang Cave. Stone carvings in this area are on a much grander scale than in Guyang, but the subject (Sakyamuni and disciples) remains the same.
Next on the checklist should be Wanfo Cave, completed in 680 AD. This cave has two main rooms with more than 1500 carvings featured by a carving of Guanyin—goddess of mercy. Then, on to Lotus Cave, where you can take in yet another carving of Sakyamuni, but this time sitting in—you guessed it—the lotus position. Remember to look up, there's are great carving of a lotus flower complete with seed pods there.
Saving the best till last, Fengxian Temple. This temple is the largest and houses an enormous carving of Vairocana—the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of emptiness—measuring in at an impressive 17 meters (56 ft.) tall.
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