There are five great grottoes in China. Many tourists are very familiar with Yungang, Dunhuang and Datong grottoes for their China education tours but seldom visit Maijishan AND Kizil grottoes.
Maijishan is a famous Buddhist grotto just south of Tianshui, the hometown of Fuxi, one of the legendary founders of China. From 384AD to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), ancient artists built scaffolds along the cliffs and chiseled hundreds of caves out of the 142-m tall mountain. There are 194 caves with 7,200 sculptures and 1,300 sq m of murals.
The clay sculptures here display Chinese features, which are quite different from the diversified foreign styles in Dunhuang.
Legends say when the highest cave was completed, Sakyamuni arrived here to preach Buddhism and his 28 asparas (attendants) threw flower petals onto the pilgrims below. If a petal fell on someone, it meant he or she did not truly believe in Buddhism but to everyone's joy, all the petals scattered upwards toward the sky.
It is 290 km by highway from Lanzhou, provincial capital of Gansu, to Tianshui, where there are a number of hotels and also an attraction of Silk Road travel.
These were created as Buddhism thrived between the 3rd and 8th centuries and were the first major grottoes created as Buddhism spread to China.
The Kizil Grottoes' 235 caves are 60 km southeast of Baicheng county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. They contain murals and written documents in many ancient languages, although many were pillaged by foreign explorers early last century.
The grottoes are 70 km from Baicheng or Kucha and are best reached by taxi.
If you want to know more information about these two grottoes for your China tours, you can consult the detailed information from China travel agents.
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