Longmen Grottoes

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Longmen Grottoes

This was our main scheduled stop in Henan province… Longmen Grottoes were waiting us 🙂

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The day before we had arrived in Luoyang very early in the morning (as it was usual in this trip…), and so for that reason (and because we knew the city was pretty big) we decided to stay in a hotel that was as close as possible to the train station. We arrived at the hotel with Noah in our arms still asleep and after check-in they gave us a room with a horrible smell of cigars (and that was even with the window open, obviously to air the room). We asked to be moved, which they did straightaway, and we were finally able to rest for a few hours.

our bunk beds (hard sleep) in the train to Luoyang

 

Family Travel Secret
In China many people smoke in enclosed spaces, such as buses, trains ... and hotel rooms. If you're not a smoker, or if you are but you don't need to be smelling it constantly, always indicate in your reservation that you want a non-smoking room.

When we woke up we decided to go to visit the Longmen caves, but when we realized it was a bit late, we just wandered around a shopping area in the city center for a while. Noah was playing with some girls and he gave them a little Hello Kitty dolly that he had been given by someone just minutes before 🙂

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Our visit to the Longmen Grottoes

The next day we finally headed to the Longmen Grottoes. Note that there are more than 2300 caves, many of them very small, but some are medium-sized or even large. You can access almost all of them via endless twists and turns of stairs the length and breadth of the mountain where they are located.

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We arrived at around 2pm (after having had to return to the hotel because of a little toilet emergency with Noah 🙂 ) and we started our visit under the blazing sun and in constant humidity. We walked down a long alleyway by the River Yi and climbed the first of many stairs. We decided to go at a calm pace, mainly to avoid the rush of the tours and organized visits.

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The main caves we visited were:

Gianxisi Cave

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The Three Sinyang Cave

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Jingshansi Cave

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Moya-Three-Buddha Niche

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Wanfo Cave (ten-thousand-Buddha Cave)

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Lianhua Cave

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Welzi Cave and Tangzi Cave

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Finally we arrived at the grand staircase which gave us access to the Fengxiansi Cave (the largest of the caves) and its impressive figures of Buddha and surrounded on either side by a monk, bodhisattva, heavenly king and a Vajrapani. It is simply spectacular to see such a marvel of human perseverance.

Fengxiansi Cave, the largest of the caves at Longmen Grottoes

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Family Travel Secret
The tradition of digging caves and sculptures of Buddha in them is an art that flourished between the 3rd and 16th centuries. The job of working stone in Longmen began in 493 and existed for more than a thousand years. There are over 2300 caves and niches, 100,000 images of Buddha and more than 2800 inscriptions.

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From the highest point on Longmen Hill where there is nothing much to see, you can admire the area of Longmen National Wetland Park.

Longmen National Wetland Park, viewed from Longmen Hill

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We crossed the river by the Manshui Bridge and we got to the caves on the East Hill… This meant more stairs, but this time through a forest which eventually gave us some shade where we could take shelter.

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Noah meditating at Longmen Grottoes

Walking towards the exit we were able to see the number of holes (like a hive) which have been made in the wall of the mountain to create this place, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. The problem was that, being the afternoon, the backlighting didn’t allow us to take the best photos or get great views … Maybe next time 🙂

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Family Travel Secret
We would recommend visiting Longmen Grottoes in the morning, as the sun will completely light up the caves and with any luck you will get a clear, illuminated view of the great statues and caves from the other side of the river.

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Finishing our visit in the Xiangshan Temple

The last place we visited (before they closed at 6:30pm) was Xiangshan Temple and the residence of Jiang and Song. Obviously to reach them it was necessary to climb a large number of steps … But we are in good shape so it wasn’t a problem, although we did need a little break 🙂

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Impressions of the Xiangshan Temple at Longmen Grottoes

The Xiangshan Temple is a place with a quiet (we believe that was thanks to the time when we visited) and relaxed atmosphere which gave us some leisure at that moment which we hadn’t had during the rest of the visit … The views from the top of this section of the mountain are really beautiful.

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We returned to our hotel at night, thanks to directions from a friendly family in a motorbike 🙂

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Family Travel Secret
Nothing related to the Longmen Grottoes, but worth a short comment. As you can see in the collage below, it is common to see entire families on a motorcycle ... even babies ... and these are only some of the examples I photographed that afternoon ... Definitely another way of seeing the risk ...

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It is a real luxury to be able to visit places as beautiful as this great spot in Luoyang.

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Next stop: Shaolin Temple, Pagoda Forest and Songshan Mountain!

Important facts:
Longmen Grottoes is located about 14 km away from Luoyang train station. If you take the K81 bus it will cost you 1.5 yuan and you will arrive at the ticket area for Longmen no problem. Entry to Longmen Grottoes is 100 yuan per person. The trolley bus that takes you from the ticket booth to the entrance is 10 yuan per person. We recommend you visit Longmen Grottoes in the morning.

 

Ruth

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