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Bingling Grottoes

The Bingling Grottoes, also known as the Bingling Temple, are a series of Buddhist caves that are situated on a not easily accessible cliff face, some 80km from Lanzhou.
Bingling is a transliteration of Tibetan, which means Ten Thousand Buddha. At present, there are 183 caves, 694 stone statues, 82 clay sculptures, and 900 square meters of murals. All the statues, sculptures and murals exhibit superb craftsmanship, and have great artistic appeal. These caves, which stretch for 200 meters, include the caves of Western Qin, North Wei, Sui, Tang, and Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasties. The first cave was built here in 420

AD, by daring Buddhists who descended from the cliff on ropes to carve their masterpieces. Although the cave complex was enlarged gradually over many centuries, it is the work of both the Song (960-1279 AD) and the Ming (1368-1644 AD) Dynasties that remains most impressive. The temple was, in-between these golden years, to become a Tibetan Monastery (in the Yuan Dynasty, 1271-1368 AD).Within and on the cliff are a series of winding walkways and stairs that will lead you around the site. The caves, carved out of the cliff's porous stone, contain over 700 statues, of both clay and porous rock, and hundreds of frescoes. Of the statues, the largest is a giant 27 meter-high seated Maitreya, the future Buddha, and the smallest is a miniscule 25 centimeters. It is the lower caves that are the most impressive. Cave 169 is considered to be one of China's oldest grottoes, housing a faded Buddha and 2 Boddhisattvas. This cave, in an area of 200 square meters, also holds the earliest epigraph of any of China's caves. Between June (sometimes as late as July) and October, tourist boats depart daily from the dam to Bingling Si, while during the winter months the water level is too low for boats, and there is no access by road. Staircases have been built onto the rock-face to make your visit more convenient.
 
Maijishan Grottoes
 
The 194 cave-shrines of this "Gallery of Oriental Sculpture" on a perpendicular mountain cliff southeast of Tianshui, provide shelters to 7,200 stone and clay figurines and 1,300 square metres of murais. The clay figures, fastidiously crafted to the minute detail, and blending lifelike imagery with spiritual resonance, are paragons of ancient Chinese clay sculpture.
 
Gansu Provincial Museum
 
The Gansu Provincial Museum ,covering a total area of 16.5 acres, is the most impressive museum in the province. This is one of the best sights in the city, and for those who are in the western section of Lanzhou, a visit is well worthwhile. The museum complex is made up of three separate buildings linked by corridors, and further divided into two sections, a natural resources section downstairs and historical exhibits upstairs. The museum houses a variety of collections including color-painted pottery from the Neolithic Period, murals from the Wei and Jin periods, bamboo slips for writing from the Han time, and bronze artifacts. Most archeological finds in the region of Hexi Corridor are kept here. It is well worth a visit.

 
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