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Day 5 (08.12.2007)


For this day I had got two aims, one was the Hanging Monastery and above all the Yungang Grottoes. Especially the Hanging Monastery is far away and alone I could not make it to visit both sights on the same day and so I joined a group, consisting of foreigners, for today. The city of Datong is located near Inner Mongolia and so in Chinese history it was often a military garrison, which should provide protection against invasions of the steppe peoples from the north. The Tabgach, who had conquered large parts of North China and had founded the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 - 534), made Datong (at that time the name was Pingcheng) their capital. The Tabgach were a consolidation of different tribes, who mainly spoke Turkic and Mongolian languages. First we went to the Hanging Monastery by bus. The Hanging Monastery is situated in the Heng Shan Mountains and it is located about 70 km southeast of Datong. It was built in the 6th century. This monastery is so fascinating, because it was built on a steep rock side and it hangs over a gorge. From the bottom it is stabilised by wooden beams. The monastery consists of several buildings, which are connected with bridges with each other. First we admired the monastery from the outside. Afterwards we went up the stairs to the monastery. It was a very interesting experience to walk around the buildings and to walk from one building to the next on these narrow bridges. Later we drove towards Datong and finally we arrived at the Yungang Grottoes. The Yungang Grottoes belong, besides the Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang and the Mogao Grottoes near Dunhuang, to the most important Buddhist grottoes in China. In 460, during the Northern Wei Dynasty, the construction of the Yungang Grottoes began. The grottoes were artificially hewn into the rock. In the Yungang Grottoes there are about 51000 Buddhist figures made of stone. Some figures are very small and some are huge. In grotto no. 5 there is the largest figure in Yungang - a 17 m high sitting Buddha. Grotto no. 20 collapsed and so the Buddha Statue of this grotto can be seen from the outside. This statue is a 14 m high sitting Buddha. We walked through the grottoes and these monumental figures impressed me very much. Afterwards we drove back to Datong and our tour group dissolved.

The Hanging Monastery
The Hanging Monastery

The Hanging Monastery
The Hanging Monastery

The Yungang Grottoes
The Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes (grotto no. 20)
The Yungang Grottoes (grotto no. 20)


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Last Update: 30.01.2009