The Wonders of the Mogao Grottos in Dunhuang – Cycling The Silk Road In China

We left Yumen this morning and drove a long way through the dry Gobi desert.
For many miles the only thing we saw, was small earth mounds that are actually graves.
There is no designated burial area…. If a loved one passes away, the family select a place by the foot of the mountains, or simply by the road, and they dig a hole, bury the body and cover it with earth, to created a mound about one meter tall above it.

The whole desert is dotted with these anonymous graves.

The sun and the heat was just too brutal to cycle.
After hours of driving, we arrived at a town that is truly a desert oasis called Dunhuang.

On the outskirts of town, there are the Mogao Grottos.

Words can hardly describe this magnificent place…
Into a rock in the middle of the Gobi Desert, there is a massive complex of square caves, that are filled with cultural and artistic treasures.

The caves are more than 1600 years OLD….. And despite robbers, earthquakes and change of political environment in China, through many dynasties, they are mostly kept in a very good shape.

There are 1700 caves, but only around five hundreds have been restored.
45,000 murals and over 2000 sculptures and figures.

The caves have breathtaking frescos on the walls, pyramid shaped ceilings, and some are filled with sculptures manuscripts and paintings.

They only allow a small amount of people per day into only ten caves.
They rotate the caves they allow people into, every month, to control the deterioration of the caves.

In one fantastic cave, we saw a huge Buddha Statue,towering over 37 meters tall.
In another underground cave, we saw another Buddha statue, this one is 35 meter tall, but it is seen as you go underground and stand by his feet.

Tonight we sleep in Dunghuang in another luxury hotel.
The many tourists that comes to see these amazing grottos in the middle of the desert, created enough demand for hotels and services.

It is good to sleep in a clean…comfortable… Luxurious room again…

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