Rich in thousands of grottoes, countless Buddhists and inscriptions, Longmen Grottoes (Longmen Caves) are known as the Buddhist Art Treasure and one of the three most famous Grottoes in China followed by Dunhuang Grottoes in Gangsu, Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi. With its outstanding Buddha complex and extraordinary artistic creativity, Longmen Grottoes was list as UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
Facing the Yi River, Longmen Grottoes are dotted along the opposite cliff sides of West and East hills for 1 km. Connected by two bridges, the grottoes of West and East hill are scattered in a loop line of over 2300 caves and 100,000 Buddhists, vary from height of 17 meters to 2 centimeter. Other than that, hundreds of inscriptions are presented for tourists to appreciate the ancient calligraphic art.
Built in Tang dynasty, Fengxian Temple is a niche with 36 meters wide and 41 meters high. Being the largest grotto, Fengxian Temple is more to known as its distinctive Buddha-Vairocana Buddha.
Vairocana Buddha, which means shining light, is 17.14 meters height in total, and its head is 4 meters high and its ear has 1.9 meters long. With a plump face, wide forehead and chubby cheeks, long earlobes, crescent eye-brows and piercing eyes, this Buddha shows a vivid impression of elegance, solemnity, quietness and loftiness. Along the two sides, there are two disciples, two bodhisattvas, two heavenly kings and two warriors. All of them represent a superb carving skill through their different appearances.
Located in the middle of West Hill, Wanfo Cave got its name due to the 15,000 small sitting Buddhas engraved on its south and north walls. The main Buddha Amida sits cross-legged on the lotus Sumeru throne, wearing a wavy hair knot and having a chubby face. Behind the Buddha, there are 54 lotuses carved with 54 Bodhisattvas sit in different shapes. With various expressions and gestures of each Buddha, this splendid Wanfo Cave shows a harmony of Western Pure Land.
Built in AD 493, Guyang Cave is the oldest cave with the richest contents in Longmen Grottoes for over 1500 years history. With over 1,000 Buddhist niches of various kinds are carved on the walls and ceiling of the cave, attached with over 800 inscriptions of diverse shapes and patterns, Guyang Cave is the representative of highly graphic art and best preserved stele calligraphies during the Northern Wei period.
In the north side of Fengxian Temple, Lotus Cave is shaped from a nature karst cave and got its name owing to a huge relief lotus on its ceiling. Standing for holiness and purity in Buddhism, the flower is surrounded on the south and north sides by three apsarases with beautiful postures, all of whom facing the main statue, to embrace this holy lotus. Under the lotus, there is a vivid sermon scene about 5-meter main Gautama Buddha and his students in standing position. There are various small Buddha statues around them and join in this sermon.
Note: for better protection, Lotus Cave can be visited outside only. Tourists should take flashlight and telescope to have a clear looking.
Since the west hill is nearby entrance and East hill is close to the exit, the preferred tour route is from West Hill Grottoes to East Hill Grottoes.
Before arrive the West Hill, it requires you to walk along 2 km street to ticket office and another 1 km to the main gate (Terminus). So please wear comfortable shoes. Through main gate, you will start exploring those caves on the West Hill. Along the sidewalk, you can appreciate the most of the significant Buddhist carvings here, such as the Binyang Caves, Wanfo Caves, Lotus Cave, the Vairocana Buddha in Fengxian Temple.
Crossing the bridge, the East Hill Grottoes with less caves but more nature sites offered, like Xianshan Temple and the Bai Juyi’s Tomb. With limited time, you may take a quick viewing here.
Take bus 81, 53, 60 from Luoyang Longmen Train Station, the high speed station connecting Xian and Beijing to arrive Longmen Grottoes directly; Or contact us to pick you up with private car.
The full price day ticket is for 120 yuan including West Hill Grottoes, East Hill Grottoes, Xiangshan Temple and Baiyuan Garden; and children below 1.4 meters are free of charge.
|Ticket selling dates & hours||Clearing time|
|February – March (8:00 to 17:00)||19:00|
|April 1 - May 10 (7:30 to 21:00)||22:00|
|May 11 - October 31 (7:30 to 17:30)||19:00|
|November - January (8:00 to 16:30)||18:30|
For better understand the significance and history of carvings, a guide is needed in Longmen Grottoes. There are audio narration sets offered with different languages of Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean and Cantonese for 20 yuan each. Hiring an English tour guide with different star standard, vary from 50 to 200 yuan.
Electromobile is the main transport in Longmen Grottoes to help you to walk less with small charges. There are two routes to choose from and 2 yuan for one stop; multiple-stop tickets are sold for 10 yuan/person/way
OR take a boat tour to have a wider perspective is another option:
Note: Electro-mobile rent time is from 7: 30-18:00 (8:00-17:30 in winter); the boat tour working hours from 8:00 to 18:00
Though the pathway between the river and the grottoes are paved and well-maintained, there are many stairs to climb (up and down) to see the various Buddhas in the caves, tourists should wear comfortable shoes. Also the lights in the caves are dim, take a flashlight will helpful. Also umbrella, drinking water, and comfortable cloth are practicable.
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