Tianlongshan Grottoes (天龙山石窟 - Tiānlóngshān shíkū)

Rem Sapozhnikov / April 2014
From a public transport stop which is the closest to Buddha on the Mengshan mountain, I rode the bus to the terminal station, from where on foot was going to reach the Jinci Temple. But right there the taxi drivers appeared and began to offer me to go to the Tianlongshan Grottoes. I have not included these grottoes in my itinerary, as they are quite far from the city, but once the opportunity presents itself, then why should I refuse.

I got a rather melodic taxi driver. All 20 km of the road there, and then back, he was constantly humming one and the same tune.

Mountain road and sometimes very winding.
Map of Tianlongshan. The taxi driver took me to the top point designated by a parking sign and hieroglyphs 平台停车场 (píngtái tíngchēchǎng). From there I walked down along the path, and the taxi driver by the road (on the map at the left) went to "lower" parking lot, where we agreed to meet.
Again, to my surprise, and here there were no entry tickets. Behind these gate begins the path down.
Something like this.
Pines and cypresses grow around, the air is clean and very fragrant.
The first point on the map is marked by hieroglyphs 高欢避暑亭 (Gāohuān bìshǔ tíng). Free translation – Pavilion where Gao Huan is resting from the heat. Usually this place is simply called the Summer Pavilion of Gao Huan.
Just a little bit below there is a White Dragon Cave (白龙洞 - Báilóngdòng), in front of which the temple was built.
Two puppies found shelter in it.
On the map this place is designated by hieroglyphs 冯玉样题词 (Féngyùxiàngtící).
My version is that this poem of Feng Yuxiang, written during a secret visit to these places in 1931.
View to the grottoes on the eastern slope. On the map they are marked as 东峰石窟 (Dōng fēng shíkū).
Footpath over the precipice.
Grottoes were hollowed out here for four hundred years. The first of these appeared in the Eastern Wei Empire (534-550).
In total, according to various sources, there are from 21 to 25 grottoes with 500 sculptures on the eastern and western slopes.
In the distance you can see the Guanyin Pagoda (观音塔 - Guānyīntǎ).
Manshan Pavilion (漫山阁 - Mànshāngé) protects grotto number 9 with the most beautiful statues.
One cannot take pictures in the ninth grotto, so I'll show the scan from a booklet.
On the first level there are three statues: Manjusri (not visible in the photo), Avalokitesvara (pictured left) and Samantabhadra (pictured right). One level upper of the trio, there is a large statue of Maitreya.
View of the grottoes on the western slope.
In the bottom you can see the Shengshousi Temple and taxi drivers' minivans.
Buddhist Temple Shengshousi (圣寿寺 - Shèngshòusì).
↑ Click for detailed view ↑
Xiaofu - Smiling Buddha (笑佛 - Xiàofú).
Go down the mountains, the Jinci Temple is waiting for me.

Continuation :
Jinci Temple

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