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Gansu

Gansu is in Mid-west China, stretching along the Silk Road, and settled 200,000 years ago. Gansu's southern part has rich soil and a lot of sun. It's capital city is Lanzhou, almost in the center of China, on the Yellow River. It was an important stop on the Silk Road and now serves as the gateway to two cave temples. The elaborate 5th-century Bingling Temple is 120 km SW of Lanzhou. Here there are one hundred and eighty three caves and shrines with six hundred and ninety four stone statues and eighty two clay statues. The biggest Buddha is 27 m high. The youngest Buddha being 350 years old at least. The Maiji Grottoes are 350 km SE of Lanzhou. The grottoes consist of one hundred and ninety four caves full of stone and clay statues, and 1300 square meters of murals.

Jiuquan (Wine Spring) is on the southern edge of a desert. It has an imposing Bell and Drum Tower and the Luminous Jade Cup Factory. 30 km away is Jiayuguan Pass, the westernmost end of the Great Wall. The pass is marked by a magnificent castle and three-story gates. On the way to the Pass are ancient tombs where visitors can have a look at life from over 1600 years ago.

25 km SE of the city of Dunhuang are the Mogao Grottoes (the Thousand Buddha Caves). Over 1000 caves were cut out of cliffs between the 4th and 14th centuries, of which 492 remain today. They are full of Buddhist carvings, gilt and colored frescoes, murals. The Diamond Sutra, the oldest existing printed book, was found here and is now in the British Museum of London. After close study of the graceful gestures of the painted flying apsaras, Chinese dance troupes created many flowing and dreamy dances. You may find some of the gestures are from the murals and carvings, and they are really fascinating.

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Site Created: September 16, 1998; Updated: September 23, 2007.