Yungang Grottoes April 2014

Yungang Grottoes are ancient Buddhist grottoes near the city of Datong in Shanxi province built in the Northern Wei period between the Tang and Song Dynasties.  It is one of the three major cave clusters in China, the other two being Longmen and Mogao Grottoes.  Here at Yungang, there are altogether 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 buddha statues.  These grottoes represent the peak of Buddhist cave art and tell the story of past glory.

DSCF1109Entrance to the archaeological site.


DSCF1125Over centuries of exposure to heavy weathering, the sandstone of the grottoes are slowly being destroyed. Hence, a series of wooden buildings were constructed in front of the caves in an attempt to protect them from further destruction.







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DSCF1184 - Version 2These large statues are carved from the top to the ground and many of them are 13-15 meters tall.



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DSCF1260Some of these smaller grottoes were commissioned by wealthy prominent families of the time.



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We returned to Datong after our visit and I would highly recommend trying the shaomai dumplings at Fenglin-Ge Restaurant in Datong.  Legend has it that Emperor Zhen De of the Ming Dynasty liked to disguise as a commoner and travel around the nation.  On one of his outings, he came to a small town and fell in love with a beautiful young village girl who worked at a tea house called Longfeng.  The Emperor impregnated the girl before his identity was exposed and he promised to make her an imperial consort before he returned to the palace.  She waited and waited but received no word from him.  The old tea house attendant seeing the young girl heart broken, distraught, and ridiculed by the entire village, traveled to the capital to remind the Emperor of his promise.  But sadly, when she was finally bestowed the title of consort and arrived at the palace, she died.  The Fenglin-Ge Restaurant today is said to be the old site of Longfeng Tea House.

The restaurant is beautifully decorated and there are several pages of different dumplings as well as other Chinese dishes.  We ordered 5 different kinds of dumplings, some vegetarian, some with pork, and some with chicken or smoked duck.  I would have definitely returned everyday if I were to stay in the area longer.


The shaomai dumplings at Fenglin-Ge Restaurant.

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