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Yungang caves

The Yungang cave paintings are 1500 years old, but the bright colours in some of the caves make them look as if they were painted yesterday.  Knowing a little about China and the Chinese approach to restoration that may even be true, but I prefer to ignore this possibility and just enjoy their intricate detail and marvel at how well they have lasted.  

These are in fact some of the oldest buddist cave paintings in China.  There are several hundred caves here and about 50 are open to the public.  All the caves were painted in a 70 year period around 500 AD just after the Chinese Han dynasty when buddism was strong in China.  I am no expert on buddist art so cannot really appreciate just how fine the style or workmanship here is but even without this knowledge the paintings and carvings are impressive enough.

Yungang caves
  In several caves there are budda statues almost 20m high carved directly into the face of the rock.  It is hard to take really good photos due to the size of many of the caves and low light levels.  Photography is also not permitted in the three main show caves so my photos exclude the best of the caves anyway.

After our success with buses yesterday, today proves more of a challenge.  The LP suggests a bus from outside the railway station but we soon realise this is not the case, but the helpful staff at the bus kiosk tell us to take a #4.  We meet a young French couple who are also on their way to the caves and their guidebook is more accurate, we need to take the #4 to the terminus and then change to a #3-1 or #3-2.  In reality the 3-2 drops us at a junction and we need to take a 3-wheel taxi for the last 2 or 3 km, but this possibly due to the building works currently in progress which will probably transform the caves into one of the major tourist attractions in China.  Certainly from the scale of the building operations at the entrance they are preparing for a large number of future visitors.

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Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Yungang caves
Datong
photo by: Deats