Maijishan & La Shao – Days 44 & 45 on the Silk Road by MGB

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

It’s wonderful that you can still find places that a. amaze you and b. you’ve never heard of before. Both of these Buddhist sites in Gansu Province in China amazed me, La Shao I had never heard of until a day before my visit

▲ Maijishan I had heard of, although only a couple of years ago. It’s near the city of Tianshui and features a sheer rock face dotted with caves housing Buddhist images which you can walk past on walkways and stairs seemingly tacked on to the rock face. On the east face a huge Buddha figure is flanked by two Bodhisattvas.

▲ The figures are even larger on the west face.

▲ The site of La Shao is also referred to as Shu Lian Dong or the Water Curtain Temple. It’s not far off the Tianshui-Lanzhiou road, but for some reason doesn’t even get a mention in the Lonely Planet China guide, although the location appears on the Gansu chapter map. I was blown away by it, another reminder that there is so much out there in our world that I’ve not seen. The rock face features a 42.3 metre high Buddha figure, flanked by two Bodhisattvas. I’m a sucker for big Buddhas, ever since a missed out on Bamian and I’ve said that the Yungang Caves Buddhas, which I saw in 2013, were at least a partial substitute.

Australians would find the scenery here familiar, it’s the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia, but as if Buddhism had arrived in Australia and carved giant Buddha figures into a Bungle Bungle rock face and dropped the odd temple into a niche between the rock formations.

◄ Here are our Silk Road MGBs lined up below the huge La Shao bas relief.
▲ Elephants (there are also deer and lions) accompanying the cliff face figures

▲ And the Water Curtain Temple, although there was no water, it’s the dry season.