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Ancient Places / Trip Ideas

Mogao Caves in Dunhuang

By Jocelyn Yi

May 11

Dunhuang, a 2,000-year-old city along the Silk Road, is the cradle of the Mogao Caves, the largest and most richly-endowed treasure house of Buddhist art in the world.

Dunhuang, a 2,000-year-old city along the Silk Road, is the cradle of the Mogao Caves, the largest and most richly-endowed treasure house of Buddhist art in the world.

Situated at the westernmost point of the Hexi Corridor is the 2,000-year-old bustling city of Dunhuang of Gansu Province. Dunhuang is home to the famous Mogao Caves, also known as Thousand Buddha Grottoes, which has amazed the world with numerous cultural relics discovered throughout the last century. Located at the cultural and religious crossroads of the Silk Road, the historical value of the caves along with the Buddhist art represented there has been treasured by people from all around the globe.

Mogao Caves in Dunhuang [Image Credit: VCG]
Located 25 kilometers to the southeast of Dunhuang, the Mogao Caves were constructed in a.d. 366, and comprise the largest, most richly endowed and longest established treasure house of Buddhist art in the world. There are currently 735 preserved caves, which house 45,000-square meters of murals and 2,415 painted sculptures. Over 50,000 cultural relics including Buddhist classics, paintings and documents in literature and science were discovered in one of the caves in 1900, in an area referred to as the “Library Cave.” The Mogao Caves were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1987.

The Mogao Caves have also been called “library on the wall” for its countless murals. These murals are all infused with rich imagination and creativity, not only depicting diverse figures and their clothing, but also representing nearly all aspects of the social life in different historical periods including the trade along the Silk Road, military, science and technology and people’s lifestyles.

Tips for visitors

The tour starts in the digital exhibition where visitors can watch two films lasting 50 minutes, which combine the digital technology and the cave art. They will then be taken to the caves in shuttle buses, and the 75-min tour allows the visitors to feast their eyes on cultural relics.

The in-season tour includes the digital exhibition center and visiting the on-site museums and eight caves. The off-season tour includes an experience in the digital exhibition center and an on-site visit in the museums and 12 caves.

Tickets can be ordered online and will be checked at the entrance. Only 6,000 tickets are available every day on www.mgk.org.cn. Visitors can get their tickets at the ticket office after providing the order number and valid ID.

Time to visit: May 1-Oct. 31(In season); Nov. 1- April 30(Off season)

Entry: 200 yuan/person (In season); 100 yuan/person (Off season)

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