Since we’d already be taking a train halfway across China, Andy and I figured we might as well see what potentially interesting stops we could make along the way back from Xi’an to Shijiazhuang.
We decided to go with the Longmen Grottoes (龙门石窟), one of China’s best surviving masterpieces of Buddhist rock carving.
Seeing as the site was described as Longmen Caves in Lonely Planet, they turned out to be nothing like what we expected – but magnificent nevertheless. Instead of caves, this Unesco World Heritage site was actually a massive collection of shallow niches carved into about a 1km stretch of rock on both sides of the Yi River, 12km away from present-day Luoyang.
The sheer number of these statues was staggering – over 100,000 – carved over about 200 years. The statues ranged from one inch to 1 inch to 55 feet tall.
Unfortunately, our legs were so sore and fatigued from running up and down Huashan two days earlier that we could barely focus on what we were seeing – instead, writhing in pain at the thought of walking up any more flights of stairs 😆
Still, it was a very worthwhile stop. And now…it was time to go home 🙂