Bingling Monastery

Bingling Monastery 柄灵寺石窟

Situated in Yongjing County within half a day*s distance from Lanzhou by car, the Bingling Monastery is one of China’s best grotto clusters. The grottoes are next only to those in Dunhuang and the Maiji Mountain in magnitude and the value of their historical relics. Among the survivals are 183 grotto niches (34 grottoes and 149 niches) displaying 679 stone figures and 82 clay figures, in addition to more than 900 square meters of murals. The highest figure is 27 Meters, while the smallest being more than 20 centimeters only. Also there are one stone square pagoda, and four clay pagodas.


Two-thirds of the grottoes and niches were carved during the Tang Dynasty. The rest were carved in Western Qin, Northern Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Ming and Qing dynasties. Its centuries-old stone-carving art is considered a gem of history and culture in China.
During the construction of Liujiaxia Reservoir in 1967, a 200-metre-long and 20-metre-high dam was built in front of the Monastery. The monastery can be reached by taking a boat.

Labrang Lamasery

Labrang Lamasery 拉卜楞寺

First built in 1710 during the Qing emperor Kangxi’s reign (1662-1722) , the Labrang Lamasery in Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southern Gansu Province, is one of the six patriarchal lamaseries of the Gelugpa Sect of Lamaism in China (the other five being Gandan Lamasery 甘 丹寺,Drepung Lamasery 哲蛛寺,Sera Lamasery 色拉寺 in the Lhasa area, Tashilhungpo Lamasery 什伦布寺 in Xigaze in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Ta’er Lamasery 塔尔寺 in Huangzhong,Qinghai Province). Located about 180 kilometres from Lanzhou, the lamasery encompasses 86.7 hectares (214 acres) and about 2.5 kilometres in circumference and has about 10,000 rooms, which are enough to accommodate more than 3,000 lamas. Big, tall and elaborately decorated, the highly artistic monastery breathes a strong religious atmosphere of the Tibetans. Also the top college of Tibetan Buddhism in Northwest China, the monastery holds seven large-scale summons ceremonies a year, of which the summons ceremony in the first lunar month is the largest. The present summons ceremony, which began in the middle of the 18th century, is based on a ceremony held in 1409 by Tsong Kha-pa (1357- 1419), founder of the Gelugpa Sect. It includes a series of religious activities attendee by both Tibetan monks and pilgrims, such as the free Captive Animals Festival held on the 8th day of the first Tibetan lunar month, The Sun-Bathing Buddha Festival on the 13th day of the month and the Cham dance on the 14th day. In addition to this, all the monks of the monastery will gather in the Grand Sutra Hall to recite Buddhist scriptures six times a day, every day during the period. The Sun-Bathing Buddha Festival has always been the biggest draw.


The monastery boasts six Buddhist institutes (the Institute of Esoteric Buddhism, Higher and Lower Institutes of Theology, the Institute of Medicine, Institute of Astrology and Institute of Law). Each of them has a chanting hall, several temple halls, and 18 residences for M the Living Buddhas,” 18 Buddhist Lhakangs (living quarters for monks) and a sutra- printing house. The pray hall is the principal part of a monastery, where monks study, hold meetings and chant scriptures. The largest, the palatial Grand Prayer Hall belongs to the College of Esoteric Buddhism. In 1985, the hall was burnt down by fire. The central government provided 12 million yuan (US$ 1.45 million) for its reconstruction. After reconstruction in 1990, the hall was expanded to cover about one hectare (2.471 acres). The hall, of wood and clay structure, has the roof supported by 140 giant pillars. It is large enough to accommodate 3,000 monks. The elegantly decorated hall houses portraits of Buddha on its walls and has built-in Buddha shrines and bookcases. Fine “thangka” (sacred painting on cloth) paintings hang from the pillars. The chanting halls feature white dagobas erected in the northeast and northwest. The chanting halls are all located in the northwestern part of the monastery compound and the other five chanting halls are set around the Grand Chanting Hall in a shape similar to a crescent moon. The hall of Maitreya Buddha is representative of the monastery^ temple halls and features a strong Nepalese flavour. It houses a 10-metre-high gilded statue of Maitreya Buddha created by Nepalese artisans. E’angzogzhe (1648-1712), the first generation Living Buddha in 1709, founded the monastery. At its height, the monastery housed about 4,000 monks in its 90 halls, with 31 residential and academic buildings, and more than 500 scripture-reading rooms. But many buildings were destroyed during the “cultural revolution” (1966-1976). In the 1990s, most of them were rebuilt or renovated. Presently there are about 1,200 monks, coming mostly from Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Apart from a spectacular collection of monastic buildings,the Labrang Monastery is also a treasure house. Art treasures are everywhere. Stunning frescoes and tapestries, incredible carpentry, painted Tibetan furniture, white Tibetan scarfs, stupas (the cone-shaped jewel-encrusted burial chambers where the bones of Tibetan religious and political leaders are placed) resplendent with jewels. Most enchanting of all are the different kinds of Buddha statues and “thangkas. ” From the peaceful Sakyamuni (the-Present Buddha) and Maitreya (the Future Buddha) covered with huge turquoise medallions and gold ornaments to ferocious nandikesvaras, joyful Buddha tangled up in multi-armed embraces, from the gilt Tsong Kha-pa to the bronze statue of Jiamuyang 1, from just 1 inch high to 10 metres tall, more than 10,000 statues of Buddha made of gold, silver, copper, aluminium, ivory, sandalwood, jade, crystal and clay build up a mysterious Buddhist world in the flickering light of yak-butter lamps. The Labrang Monastery has a collection of about 10,000 “thangka 唐卡” paintings by Tibetan folk artists in Qinghai Province. The monastery also has one of the richest collections of Buddhist scriptures in the world, boasting nearly 65,000 of them in 18,200 volumes.

These scriptures fall into a dozen categories, including philosophy, collected works, medicine, sabda (grammar and composition) , history, biography, and craftsmanship. Also included are two volumes of Pattra-leaf sutras, and some 70,000 wood blocks for printing scriptures.

The monastery is built in an attractive setting, with the Daxia River winding by to the south and rolling mountains to the south and north. About 14 kilometres up the valley from the monastery, the Sangke Grasslands is an ideal place for hiking or horse-riding, with a limpid lake and snow-capped mountains on all sides.

The Singing (Soughing) Dunes and the Crescent Spring

The Singing (Soughing) Dunes and the Crescent Spring鸣沙山和月牙泉

The Singing Dunes, formerly known as Shensha Hills or Shajiaoshan Hills, are located 6 kilometers away from the city of Dunhuang. The Singing Dunes stretch about 40 kilometers from east to west, and 20 kilometers from north to south. The dunes range from 80 to 90 meters in height. The Singing Dunes are rolling like a “wriggling dragon” and glittering like golden hills with a clear spring shaped like a new moon lying in their bosom. The green spring water, resembling a jadeite, is inlaid on the golden dunes. Reeds grow luxuriously by the side of the spring, and, in gentle breeze, the water-surface ripples and the dunes are reflected in the water, forming a very spectacular view.


According to the record of The Old Tang Annals, The Singing Dunes are also called Shajiaoshan Hills. In fine days, sand roars like thunder which can be heard in the city, hence the name of Singing Dunes. When visitors climb up the dunes and slide downward from the summit, the sand can collapse with them and give out a peal of loud sound, like the howls of beasts and roar of thunder if it is listened to in the vicinity and like celestial melodies if it is listened to in the distance. Since the ancient times, this scenic spot has been regarded as a riddle.

What has brought about the phenomenon of singing sand? Up to now there is yet no satisfactory answer. Some Japanese think that perhaps there are ancient palaces under the dunes; the Russians deem that the quartz content in the singing sand is very considerable, and when quartz crystals are squeezed, they would produce electric charges which would in turn change into sound. Chinese scientists have carried out the study on the cause of the singing of sand for years and they believe that the singing of sand is a phenomenon of resonance. The Singing Dunes are as high as 80 to 90 meters and their ridges are as sharp as the edge of a knife. At the foot of the Singing Dunes lies the Crescent Spring (known as Sand Well in the ancient times). In warm and sunny weather, the spring water at the foot of the Singing Dunes evaporates under the direct sunshine and forms an invisible shield, which happens to constitute a natural resonator together with the steep, crescent slope of the Singing Dunes. Among the sounds of different frequencies given out by the friction of sand-drift, there will inevitably be a sound, which will bring about resonance of the resonator by chance. Along with the amplification of the sound, the resonance turns out to be like the roar of thunder, hence there comes the singing sand.

More interesting than the singing sand is the phenomenon of M nonencroachment of sand on spring at the Singing Dunes and Crescent Spring. The havoc caused by wind and sand in the Northwest is terrific. They can turn fertile farmland into desert, blow sheep up into the sky and even overturn a train. The small Crescent Spring at the foot of the Singing Dunes,however, can go through all vicissitudes and remain safe and sound despite evaporation that is tens of times more than precipitation. It is indeed mysterious that the precipitous dunes beside the spring have never collapsed and buried the spring water, but, on the contrary, it has surrounded and protected the spring like iron arms and kept the spring water even in long drought.

With regard to the long-existent riddle of the Crescent Spring, there are a lot of explanations. Some hold that the land in the neighborhood might have been the former Danghe River Bend, a part of Dunhuang Oasis. Owing to the drift of dunes and the change of river-courses, a water system of its own was formed; and due to the low terrain, groundwater constantly replenishes the spring water, so the spring is always filled with water and never dries up even in drought. And because of the existence of underground watercourses, which connect with the spring and help the diversion of water, the water will not overflow even after long period of rain. This explanation seems to give the reason why the Crescent Spring does not vanish, but it by no means explains why the flying sand does not fall into the spring. Another theory goes like this:” The Crescent Spring might have been a wind-eroded lake. The Taoist Priests who lived beside the Crescent Spring witnessed in person that the sand sliding down from sand dunes was blown up by strong wind to the summit. This might have been one of the reasons why the Crescent Spring was not buried by sand.

The beautiful sight and the wonderful natural structure of the Singing Dunes and the Crescent Spring have added to their fascination. To know, you must go!

A number of stunning icons were built in particular along the affluent Silk Road. Other grottoes in Gansu are the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, Jiuguan Wenshu Mountain Grottoes, Anxi Yulin Grottoes, Zhangye Ladder Grottoes, Qingyang North Stone Grottoes, Jinchuan South Stone Grottoes. The Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and Maiji Mountain Grottoes are the Largest.

Mogao Grottoes

Mogao Grottoes 莫高窟

Widely regarded as a Mecca for historians and artists, the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang is known as the world’s greatest treasure house of Buddhist art extant today. Their construction started in AD 366. The existing 492 grottoes contain 45,000 square meters of murals and more than 2,415 painted sculptures, which spanned 10 consecutive dynasties in more than 1,600 years.


The highest grotto is more than 40 meters, and 30 meters wide. The biggest figure is 33 meters, and the smallest being approximately 10 centimeters. From the top storey the visitor will get a view of sweeping panorama of the 1,600-metre expanse across the sheer cliff-side and of the nine-storey tower jutting as the centre of the remaining 492 grottoes. Their superb craftsmanship and rich imagination are amazing.

The Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang is divided into north and south districts, totaling 735 grottoes in all.

All the caves are linked by walkways and marked with the date of their carving and the dynasty. A visit to the Dunhuang Grottoes will give the visitor a complete and chronological picture of Buddhist art from the Eastern Jin through the Northern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties, Song, Xixia, and Yuan dynasties-more than one thousand years of history. The murals in the grottoes hewn during the Northern Dynasty depict events in the life of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.


The Dunhuang Grottoes, of which Mogao Grotto is the major group, are paramount not only for their artistry, but they also depict aspects of social life in various historical periods and the friendly contacts between China and other countries. The grottoes’ valuable historical data has aroused the keen interest of historians, archaeologists and students of religion and art history both at home and abroad.

These artworks represent the pinnacle of ancient Chinese art and culture. Most of them are related to religious and folklore stories. For its wealth of priceless artifacts, the Mogao Grottoes was among the first relic areas in China to have been listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. Since the grottoes were opened to tourists in 1979, they have attracted more than 3 million “domestic and overseas visitors. The provincial government has long been working closely with relics experts from the State Bureau, trying to minimize the impact of weather conditions and tourists to the Mogao Grottoes. Extensive monitoring systems have been established in the grottoes to track the slightest changes in indoor conditions. Strict rules have been set up to limit the number of tourists entering the grottoes in a specified period of time to prevent damage caused by sudden increases in humidity and carbon dioxide. The Dunhuang frescoes are gems of ancient Chinese art.敦煌壁画是我国古代艺 术中的瑰宝。

Dunhuang art came to light again in 1900, when a Taoist monk namccf Wang Yuanlu discovered a hidden library consisting of nearly 50,000 ancient documents, Buddhist sutras and works of art and crafts in Cave 17. The Buddhist texts were in Chinese, Tibetan and many Central Asian languages, some known and some long forgotten. Researchers have recently added ancient Syrian language to the list. The massive amount of social documents and artifacts in the caves soon became an archaeological gold mine. The treasures were quick to be plundered, first by Russians who took some ancient scrolls. In 1907, Aurel Stein, from Britain, carted away 24 packing cases of manuscripts and five cases of paintings, embroideries and art relics from Dunhuang, totaling 13,300 pieces of documents and relics, most of which are now preserved in the British Museum. In 1908, Paul Pelliot, from France, smuggled about 6,000 volumes of scrolls, probably the most valuable ones, out of China and to France. Later, the Japanese stole about 900 volumes. A survey has revealed that over 80 percent of Dunhuang documents and relics have been scattered in various foreign countries.

The Silk Road

The Silk Road丝绸之路

The long,winding and well-travelled Silk Road 漫长曲折、游客如织的丝調之路,a major Eurasian trade route, dates back to the second century BC with a history of more than 2,000 years. Its extremely important contribution to civilization has been renowned throughout the world, but the road itself still remains mysterious today. The Silk Road is closely associated with the Gobi Desert, grasslands, snow-capped mountains, grottoes, and the ruins of ancient cities, etc. Passed from lip to lip on the Silk Road were miraculous legends and romance, which told the rises and falls of successive dynasties in China.

For over 2,000 years, historians and archaeologists both at home and abroad have been on scene to unveil the mysteries of the Silk Road, a traffic passage, which started in Xian, the capital of Northwest China Shaanxi Province and ran westward for about 7,000 kilometres, through the western regions and provinces of China, on into several Central Asian countries before stretching down to Rome in the Mediterranean. The Silk Road runs through many time-honored cultures and civilizations in China, Asia Minor, India and the Persian Gulf, Greece and Italy. But it has left so many interesting subjects only a little light on a certain episode of its history. The early Chinese civilization already reached a very high standard more than 2,000 years ago.


Chinese government emissaries, traders and pious monks used to set out from Chang’an (former name for Xi’an) in their journeys through the (Gansu) Hexi Corridor (also known as the Silk Road Corridor), accounting for one-sixth of the total length of the Silk Road, along the rim of Taklamakan —the second largest desert of the world沿着世界第二大沙漠塔克拉玛干沙漠的边缘and across the Congling (Onion) Mountains in Western Xinjiang till they reached Western countries于新疆西部越过葱岭到达西方各国.The trade caravans were loaded mainly with silks and satins —valuables invented and manufactured in China, as high officials and nobles of the West took pride in putting on gorgeous Chinese silken robes. The silks so captured the fancy of people that this road came to be known as the famous Silk Road in the entire world.

The Silk Road was by no means a scene of desolation. The camels’ bells kept tinkling in the wild as one caravan after another travelled along the passage, which was lined with towns, checkpoints and courier stations. The merchants and traders also carried chinaware, lacquer ware, tea, gold vessels, silverware and other special products to the West. Introduced to the West through the same passage were the Chinese technologies of papermaking, printing, smelting, sericulture, gunpowder making, water conservancy and irrigation. China’s remarkable cultural achievements like medicine, astronomy, music and fine arts also made their way to the West, giving a powerful impetus to the economic and cultural progress there. Exchange of this kind was always a two-way thoroughfare. Through the Silk Road, Western countries also sent to China their fine glass, medicine, perfumes, spices, ivories, rhinoceros, horns, leather, hides, and strains of watermelon and grape as well as music, dance and religious arts, which helped enhance China’s economic and cultural growth. The Western religious culture, in particular, exerted an immense impact on the religious beliefs and social life of the Chinese people.


It is extremely true that the mysterious Silk Road provided a broad avenue for economic and cultural interaction between East and West in ancient times, which helped promote progress and friendship between the Chinese people and the peoples in the West. The Silk Road has become insignificant in terms of trade between East and West, but it is experiencing a new lease of life as a travelling route for both Chinese and overseas tourists,who wish to explore the mysteries of the fabled Silk Road, gain a better understanding of ancient history and see more of the world.

When tourists stand in the midst of Gobi sand dunes and take a look into the distant snow-capped mountains against the magnificent backdrop of a blue sky and tufts of white cloud, they almost immediately feel broadminded and relieved of all earthly worries. When tourists step into the grottoes at Dunhuang inscribed on the List of

World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987 ( commonly known as “ Thousand-Buddha Caves**), the Maiji (Wheat-Pile) Mountain and the Bingling (Thousand Buddhas or Hundred Thousand Buddhas in Tibetan 炳灵是藏语 “千佛”或“十万佛”之意)Cave Temple in Gansu Province,they will find the bright-coloured and vivid-looking murals and sculptures by ancient masters of art simply dazzling. They cannot help feeling excited for being able to enjoy these ancient gems of art with their own eyes. When visitors find themselves on the ruins of the ancient city of Jiaohe or Gaochang and perceive the inexorability of history, they cannot help having a sigh with emotion: the passage of time has gone to the length of reducing the flourishing ancient city to yellow mounds! When travelers rub shoulders with local residents of the Han and other

Chinese ethnic people, become their home —guests, see their art performances or stroll through their bazaars, they will find their pattern of life and customs simple and yet colorful, strange and yet intimate.

The ancient and celebrated Silk Road has stretched thousands of kilometres, resembling a dreamlike boulevard. Being a mirror of ancient history, it is calling to historians and archaeologists: as a mysterious and unique travelling route, it is calling to tourists throughout the world. To know, you must go!

Gansu Province Facts

An Introduction to Gansu Province甘肃省简介

Abbreviation: Gan

Capital: Lanzhou

Area: More than 390,000 square kilometres

Population: 25.68 million

Location: In northwestern China or the upper reaches of the Yellow River

Gansu Province is situated at the joint of the Huangtu (Loess) Plateau,the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Mongol Plateau. The provincial terrain varies in elevation, sloping downhill from west to east and from south to north respectively. The Gansu corridor stretches at the province’s northwest part. Most of the rivers in the province belong to the Yellow River water systems. Its climate features both temperate monsoon and continental, transferring from subtropical zone in south to temperate zone northward of semi-arid and arid area.

Gansu abounds in various produces. It has laid its solid foundation on electric power, nonferrous metallurgy, machine building, and petrochemical. Lanzhou petrochemical industry is of a big scale. Jiayuguan is the biggest iron and steel base in the northwestern part of China. Natural resources include petroleum, coal, iron and various kinds of non-ferrous metals. Mount Qilian is reputed as a cornucopia or ‘ treasure house’ for its richness in minerals. The Gannan Plateau is an important pastureland with famous species of Aqu horse阿曲马 and Ola goat 欧拉羊.Gansu is also well known for its Chinese medicinal herbs such as Chinese angelica 当归.

The province boasts abundant cultural relics such as the Silk Road, with an expanse of 1,600 kilometres symbolizing the friendly communications between China and Western peoples for generations. Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang, which is a world cultural heritage, Maiji Mountain Grottoes famous for its fine sculptures and the Labrang Lamasery 拉卜楞寺,which is one of the six great lamaseries of the Yellow Sect of Buddhism in China. The Singing (Soughing) Dunes ( Mount Mingshan) and the Crescent Spring are fanciful for their co-existence.

The (Gansu) Hexi Corridor

The (Gansu) Hexi Corridor 河西走廊

Driving about 200 kilometres west of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, tourists will reach Gansu Province. The province looks like a panhandle geographically. It covers about 1,600 kilometres of the Silk Road, of which 1,200 kilometres is situated in the (Gansu) Hexi Corridor 河西走廊(1,200 kilometres fromLanzhou, the provincial capital in the east to the Yumen (Jade Gate) Pass 玉门关(so named because the jade produced in Hetian 和田 in what is now Xinjiang region was transported to Central China through this pass), a strategic pass on the ancient Silk Road at the bank of Shule River ffiKj’M in the west, the narrowest being over 40 kilometres to more than 100 kilometres from north to south, average elevation being 1,000 to 1,500 metres. Located west of the Yellow River, the corridor is a passageway between the Qilian Mountains 祁连山 and the Beishan Mountain匕山.It was lined with many towns and is today crammed with as many centres of tourist attractions. The terrains in the province get higher and higher as tourists go from the central to the west till they reach about 1,500 metres above sea level in Lanzhou.


Lanzhou is in the shape of a panhandle, through which the Yellow River flows. People have the false impression that the city is adjacent to the border region of the far Northwest China, but it actually is in the heartland of the country.

After going beyond Lanzhou and the Wushaoling Mountain 乌銷岭, tourists enter the majestic and impressive Gansu Corridor. The Qilian

Mountains, which skirt the corridor, are about 4,000 to 5,000 metres above, sea level. In the language of Xiongnu 匈奴(Huns, an ancient ethnic tribe in Northwest China), qilian means sky. As the name implies, the Qilian Mountains are sky-high, with their snow-capped peaks piercing the clouds. A train ride through the broad corridor will provide a fascinating view of the unpopulated Gobi wilderness, which extends to the foot of the mountains, with the desert dotted with towns, hamlets, luxuriant trees and plots of farmland. Perhaps partly because of drought and scanty rainfall, the province is on the whole to be developed. Fed by molten snow down from the Qilian Mountains, however, the Gansu Province is an exception. Numerous historical sites and countless cultural relics unearthed point to its great days in history. They are delightful places to visit, and you’ll begin to feel the quiet calm the places possess. Major places of interest in the province include: the Iron Bridge at the foot of the White Pagoda Mountain,the White Pagoda and Five-Spring Park 兰州市白塔山下黄河大铁桥、白塔寺、五泉山Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang and the Crescent Spring Pool and Singing Sands Dunes 敦煌月牙泉、鸣沙山、莫高窟,Yulin Grottoes in Anxi County 安西县榆林石窟,the Big Buddha Temple, the Wooden Pagoda and Horse’s Hoof Grottoes in Zhangye City 张掖市大佛寺木塔、马蹄寺石窟,the Bingling Monastery in Yongjing临夏市永靖县炳灵寺石窟,Lashao Monastery and Cascade ( Waterfall) Cave in Wushan County 武山县拉梢寺和水帘洞,the Maiji Mountain Grottoes in

Tianshui 天水市麦积山石窟,the Lady Queen Palace Grottoes in Jingchuan径川王母宫石窟,the Northern Grotto Monastery in Xifeng City 西峰市北石窟寺,the Labrang Lamasery in Xiahe 夏河县拉卜楞寺,Jiayu Pass 嘉峪关,the western terminus of the Great Wall, acclaimed as wMight Pass Number One Under Heaven 天下第一雄关” and Overhanging Great Wall. Arresting in a more dynamic way is the bronze horse together with other 230 cultural relics from an Eastern Han (AD 25-220) tomb discovered at Leitai in Wuwei City, Gansu Province on the route of the Old Silk Road in October 1969. He is poised as if flying, and one of his hooves rests lightly on a swallow with wings outstretched, suggesting in a beautiful and imaginative way the almost

divine power, which the Chinese people at this time believed the horse to possess. He is the symbol of Chinese tourism. 1969 年 10 月在甘肃省武威市雷台下发现东汉晚期大型砖室墓一座,出土文物230余件,其中铜制器物170余件,有铸造精致的武装车马出行行列。马有驾车马、骑马,骏健生动,姿态各异。一足踏着飞鸟,三足腾空,长尾高翘,昂首嘶鸣,风驰电掣,飞奔前进。造型奇特,别具匠心,既富于浪漫主义色彩,又合乎力学平衡原理,是古代艺术珍品。它是中国旅游图形标志——马超龙雀。Grottoes resemble a string of Buddhist beads, forming a grotto corridor on the ancient Silk Road and distributing on 1,600-kilometre-long region.

Grottoes originated in Buddhist architectural art in India, but the Chinese grottoes formed its own characteristics such as the grotto eaves, Buddhist figure and murals. The grottoes along this grotto corridor have existed more than 1,000 years. The just and sound evaluation is: Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang are the treasure house of murals; Maijishan Grottoes are the museum of painted sculptures; the Horse’s Hoof Cave in Zhangye is the initial creation of painted sculpture flying Apsaras (as in the frescoes of the Horse’s Hoof Cave in Zhangye). Also there are the ruins of the Great Wall, and the beacon towers dotted here and there signalling military operation in ancient times; there are also multitude of monasteries and tombs and other cultural relics.

Dunhuang and Jiayu Pass, both situated in the (Gansu) Hexi Corridor, are the most frequently visited by explorers on the Silk Road. The Magao Grottoes in Dunhuang 敦煌的莫高窟,which is acclaimed as “ a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road 被誉为丝绸之路上的明珠,” is the most famous grottoes in China. The mural paintings there occupy a total space of 45,000 square metres. It is regarded as the greatest treasure house of Buddhist art still standing in the world today. Artists invariably wish to have a chance to visit the grottoes. Jiayu Pass is the western terminus of the Great Wall. It is known as “the Mighty Pass No One Under Heaven 天下第一’雄关Unlike Shanhai Pass in Hebei Province or Juyong Pass in Beijing along the Great Wall, it nestles against the Qilian Mountains and the Gobi Desert and is therefore imposing in its own salient feature. Erected on the Gobi Desert, its gate-tower looks all the more robust and impregnable. Looking around on the gate-tower, tourists find the Great Wall snaking eastward toward the Bohai Bay and climbing westward up the Qilian Mountains like an M Overhanging Great Wall 悬臂长城,” as the section of the wall is now popularly called.

Gansu Province contains so many beautiful sights along the Gansu section of the Silk Road that one short visit is insufficient to include them all. You will want to return.

Situated in the middle of the Gansu Province, Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, has a history of more than 2,000 years. In ancient times, it used to be of strategic importance on the well-travelled ancient Silk Road. Huo Qubing, famous general of the Han Dynasty stationed his troops here and Xuan Zang (602-664), eminent Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty also passed through this place on his pilgrimage way to India. Nowadays, the city is the hub of Longhai ( Lianyungang-Lanzhou), Lanxin ( Lanzhou-Xinjiang), and Lanqing ( Lanzhou-Qinghai) railways. The Yellow River runs through the entire city. Its main industries include oil-refinery, chemicals, machinery, non-ferrous, metallurgy, woollen textile and electric power. Prime tourist attractions include the Five-Spring and White Pagoda parks, renowned for their picturesque landscape and unique architecture, were built around the hills on both banks of the Yellow River that squeezes its way through the city. The view from their tops sweeps over the whole city and down the Yellow River.