A tour company has opened a new Chinese route for Mongolians choosing to travel to holy Buddhist sites. Gerel list Tour Company has opened a new cultural tour
to a World Heritage Site and ancient Buddhist temple, 'Yungang Grottoes, near Datong city in the Chinese province of Shanxi. The site is located about 16 kms southwest of Datong in the valley of the Shi Li River at the base of Wuzhou Shan Mountain. The company organized the first tour for journalists to the site.
The grottoes with Buddhist statues were symbolically constructed for peace during ancient times when Datong experienced many wars. The area was excavated along the mountain, extending 62 miles from east to west.
The site is composed of 47 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes, ranging from four centimeters to seven meters tall. Most of them are around 1OOO years old. The largest statue at Yungang is a 17.7 m Buddha, "Amitabha". Yungang is a relic of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and started in 450.
Embossed walls, ceilings and panels depict the story of Buddha Sayakamuni. Artisans completed the embossing with holes in sandstone and inserted wooden wedges into holes to preserve paint in the sandstone wall. The carvings are excellent examples of rock-art architecture, although cracks in the sandstone are a testament to heavy weathering.
Mediator, Buddhist researcher and group member B. Batbold said, 'The grottoes were mainly constructed in the period between 460 to 525 AD during the Northern Wei Dynasty and are an example of high development of ancient Asian art. It was interesting that the history of the grottoes was connected to the ancient Mongols.
We are taught in secondary school that there was an ancient Mongolic dynasty called Tuoba Wei, which adopted Buddhism as their religion and it had 100,000 monks and 10,000 monasteries. Tuoba was a nomadic clan of the Xianbei people in Mongolia in the early centuries of the first millennium AD. After the decline of the Chinese Jin Dynasty, the northern parts of China came under the control of the Northern Wei dynasty, emerging from a protomongolic
tribe called Tuoba. They made the city of Pingcheng, now known as Datong, their capital. Due to its promotion, Pingcheng saw an increase in construction work. We call it a holy place of our ancestors.
The statues show the affiliation with Indian Buddhist art and difference from Chinese style and confirm the theory that Buddhism arrived in Korea via Mongolia and China from India. Another connection with Mongolians is in the three large monuments with inscriptions of traditional Mongolian vertical script.
B. Batbold said, 'The caves were probably meditation cites of hermit monks. It is clear that people arrived here to gain energy because the statues were sculptured in sandstone, which is believed to have energy. It was possible to meditate alone in some small caves and in groups in larger ones." far from Mongolia and is cost-effective. Seeing other cultures will allow us to treasure our own culture more. You can visit www.mongoltours.com for more information.
Datong has several other interesting historical sites including Nine Dragon Screen, the Huayan Monastery, the Shanhua Monastery, Overhanging temple, built into a cliff face and the Wooden Pagoda with a height about 67 meters, and about 900 years of history.
The Pagoda appears as a five-storey structure but in reality has nine stories with four hidden inside. The Wooden Pagoda was built with about 54 different kinds of brackets, and joined by the tenors and mortar without any nails or rivets.
During the tour around Datong, roads were blocked due to a heavy snow, not seen over the last several years and restricting access to other sites such as the Wooden Pagoda and Hanging Temple.
Datong with 3000 years history is a city in the northern Shanxi Province in China, and is located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia and a few hundred kilometres west by rail from Beijing with an elevation of 1090 meters. It has a population of approximately 3.11 million. Coal mining is the dominant industry in Datong and there is the Chinese largest coalmine with reserve of 72 billion ton of coal in 962 square kms area.