Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves)
The Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Shiku contain the largest and some of the most impressive examples of Chinese Buddhist art from the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex features more than 100,000 Buddhist statues, images, and rock carvings, 60 stupas, and 2,800 inscriptions.
The Longmen Grottoes stretch for around 0.6 miles (one kilometer) along both sides of the Yi River in Henan Province, and include around 2,300 caves and niches carved into the steep limestone cliffs of Mt. Longmen and Mt. Xiang. Highlights include: Fengxian Temple (featuring the largest of the cliff-side carvings), Wan Fo Cave (featuring more than 15,000 carved Buddhas in niches), and Guyang Cave (the oldest cave in the complex).
While it is possible to visit the Longmen Grottoes independently, many visitors find it helpful to have a guide who can provide more historical background. Guides are available at the visitor center. Or opt for a guided tour that includes transportation from Luoyang, Xi’an, and Beijing.
Things to know before you go
- Audio guides are available in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Korean, and Japanese.
- Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking and stairs involved.
- There is limited shade available, so bring sun protection and plenty of water.
- It’s a good idea to bring a flashlight as there is minimal lighting inside the caves.
- Paid electric carts and boats are available to take visitors around the scenic area. Several bridges also connect the two sides of the river.
How to get there
The grottoes are located around 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) south of Luoyang. From downtown Luoyang, take a taxi or bus nos. 53, 60, 71, 81, 99, or 167 to Longmen Shiku Station. Visitors from Xi’an or Beijing can take the high-speed train to Luoyang and then take bus no. 71.
When to get there
The grottoes are very popular and can be crowded with tour buses. Visit first thing in the morning or late afternoon to beat the crowds. It’s possible to visit at night from April to October. It can get very hot in the summer. Visit during the spring or fall for the most pleasant weather.
Famous Grottoes in China
Longmen Grottoes is one of four famous ancient grottoes in China. Other notable grottoes include the Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province, and the Mogao Grottoes and the Maijishan Grottoes, both in Gansu Province. All four are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
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