Buddhist temple grottoes Bingling si

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August 10th 2006
Published: September 20th 2006
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Bingling si are Buddhist temple grottoes, which can only reached by boat, and only if the water level is high enough (in wet season, summer). Therefore they are not so well known, but definitely worth the effort. It makes a nice daytrip from Lanzhou or Linxia, or a nice stop between both cities.

They were initially made in 420, and expanded several times through the ages. Nowadays, there still exist 183 niches, 694 stone statues, 82 clay sculptures, and 900 square meters of murals. All the statues, sculptures and murals exhibit superb craftsmanship, and have great artistic appeal. These caves, which stretch for 200 meters, include the caves of Western Qin, North Wei, Sui, Tang, and Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasties.
The most imposing is the statue of Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future), which is 27 meters high, and stands out as the first sight of the caves from the river.

We travelled from Linxia to Bingling si: local minibuses leave from the corner, close to the Western bus station (Dongzhan, 6Y - 1u). The road was very bad. The minibuses have their terminal right next to where the boats leave. They come to you to offer their services, we immediately agreed on 100Y pp and the boat left with just the two of us. With some bargaining this should be cheaper. The trip took 30 minutes up to the entrance to the domain. Drinks, food and souvenirs are all available. A building was ready to house a hotel / guesthouse. Visitors from Lanzhou arrive later so we had it all to ourselves. Mornings give the best light to take pictures of the grottoes. You can make a walk around the cliff : first look to the grottoes, take the bridge over the river to have a look from some more distance, another bridge allows you to return to the entrance and the boats.

Entrance fee : 50Y normal price, 25Y for secondary school students. With this ticket you lots of very nice grottoes and statues. To see the best ones and most important ones, you pay an additional 330Y for grottoes 169 en 172, 80Y for grotto 126, 60Y for grotto 128 and 90Y for grotto 132. We saw no-one visiting these.

Remarks : the grottoes are located not on a cliff of the Yellow River itself, but one on a side-river of the Yellow River. This side-river was dry when we were there in August. We spent 1u30 and are typical slow visitors.

It took us some time to find a boat to take us back. The ferries only just arrived when we wanted to leave, and most speedboats were filled with their passengers to take back to Liujiaxia. On the other hand boatmen have their agreements After an hour of discussing and waiting we could join a group for 40Y pp. At arrival in Liujiaxia taxis are waiting. We went to the main road and flagged down a bus to Lanzhou (driving hill-up to the right). They tried to rip us off, but we knew that 12Y was the correct price.

More photo's can be seen on our dutch Blog: Bezoek aan Bingling Si.

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4th October 2006

Waoooouwww ... wonderful pictures .. it's amazing ! and that's only the start of your journey ... I am anxious to see your following stops .. take good care of you - thanks for sharing this with us ! Kisses - Cathy

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