China Trip – 6th Stop Yungang Caves

Friday, 18 October 2013

I’ve always said the greatest regret of my travelling life has been that I went to Afghanistan in 1972 and did not travel north of Kabul to Bamiyan to see the great Buddha statues. When I did get there in 2006 it was too late, the Taliban had destroyed them in 2001.

Yungang - Cave 5 Buddha

▲ Well now I’ve got a substitute, not as big, but still impressively large, the Buddha caves of Yangung, just outside Datong. This is the biggest Buddha, the enormous 17metre high image with its gilded face in Cave 5.

Yungang - Cave 3 Buddhas
Yungang - Cave 18 Multiple Buddhas▲ For me Cave 3 was the favourite and the 10metre high seated image, flanked by Bohdisattvas is still very impressive.

◄ Then there’s Cave 18 with its large standing Buddhas, smaller images to each side and multiple small images on the cave entrance.

Yungang - Cave 20 White Buddhas Cave
Tony at Yungang Caves 271▲ Or the White Buddha Cave, Cave 20, the front of which has collapsed leaving the images out in the open. The Buddha were carved out in 60 years from 460 AD. They suffered remarkably little damage during the Cultural Revolution and Caves 9-13 have been undergoing renovation and have been closed off for some time. So perhaps I’ll need to make a return trip!

◄ The ‘go no further’ sign at the end of the cave wall came out nicely in its English translation. Perhaps it was time for me to halt.