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Mogao Caves - Art of Dunhuang Caves

Mogao Caves, Dunhuang
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang
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The traveler finds the Mogao Caves, a shrine of Buddhist art treasures, 25 km (15.5miles) from downtown Dunhuang on the eastern slope of Mingsha Shan (Mount Echoing Sand). A network of plank reinforced roads plying north to south 1600 meters (5, 249 feet) long lead to the cave openings, which are stacked five stories high some reaching up to 50 meters (164 feet). By the way, Mogao means high up in the desert.

According to Tang Dynasty records, a monk had witnessed onsite a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays. Thus inspired, he started the caves construction work that spanned ten dynasties. Mogao Caves are commonly known as the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas.

Buddhist art has its origins in India. Mogao sculptors improvised where the rock surface did not work well under their chisels. They placed clay statues in front of the cave walls, carved relief murals as backdrops, and painted the sidewalls and ceilings with art decors. The largest statue is 34.5 meters (113 feet) high and the smallest a mere 2 centimeters (0.79inches) high.

The traveler will note traces of Indian Buddhist art in the earlier works. More recent works depict all walks of life and activities in a local setting. You will relive the daily routines and special events as captured by the artists while you are exploring the 750 caves. There are also ups and downs in the artistic quality over the centuries, depending on the fortunes of Buddhism with available art patronage. Artists in each dynasty painted with their distinctive palette. The visitor can tell the works in the Tang Dynasty from those in the Song Dynasty.
Dunhuang Maogao Caves
Colorful Mural, Maogao Caves
Buddha Statues in Magao Caves
Buddha Statues in Magao Caves
People believe it possible to fill 25 kilometers (15.5miles) of gallery space with the works of art from Mogao. There are 50,000 manuscripts written in many languages apart from artifacts. The Mogao Caves are a depository of historical and cultural exchanges over more than a thousand years between China and other nations.

1.The Digital Exhibition Center has been formally open to the public since August 1, 2014. Shuttle bus service is available between the caves and the digital exhibition center. Visitors can enjoy two amazing movies A thousand Years of Mogao Caves and Splendors of Buddha’s Palace at the digital exhibition center and then take the shuttle bus to visit the caves.
2. Within the caves, no photo! An electronic torch maybe necessary to see inside the caves.
For detailed information on Dynasties, please refer to History of China

 Reservation Procedure
The total number of visitors is limited to 6,000 per day, so it is necessary to reserve a ticket in advance, especially during the peak season (May 1 to October 31). One can reserve a ticket online through the official website of the caves 15 days in advance. Unfortunately, the English version of the website hasn’t been ready.

From July 20, 2015, individual visitors who reserve the entrance tickets are required to provide their valid ID documents used for the reservations when they get their tickets. Foreign visitors can use their passports. All visitors should get their tickets from the ticket office located at no. 246, Middle Yangguan Road (close to Hantang Grand Hotel) or the ticket office located in the Digital Exhibition Center.

Those who don’t reserve the entrance tickets in advance can buy the tickets at the two above-mentioned ticket offices.

If visitors have any question, they can make a call at (+86) 0937-8825000 / 8825166 / 8825066 (7:00-00:00).

By bus
take regular mini-bus from Dunhuang Hotel. The bus passes by Silk Road Hotel and Dunhuang Railway Station. It costs around CNY 8. Additionally, the earliest one departs at 08:00.

By taxi
It costs CNY30 -50 from the railway Station. Usually, the drivers don’t run the meter so that visitors need to bargain with them.

How to go there from Dunhuang Airport
Walking out of the airport gate, visitors can take mini-buses to the railway station. It costs around CNY 3. Then they can choose to take a taxi or regular mini-bus to the caves.
Admission Fee:
May 1st to Oct. 31st: CNY200 for Chinese citizens; CNY220 for foreign visitors (including foreign tour guide service);
Nov. 1st to next April 30th: CNY100 for Chinese citizens; CNY120 for foreign visitors (including foreign tour guide service)

1. the admission fee includes Mogao Caves, Digital Exhibition Center, shuttle bus and tour guide service.
2. Chinese and foreign students presenting a valid student ID card can enjoy 50% discount. If a foreign student wants to enjoy foreign tour guide, he/she has to pay extra CNY20.
3. Children below 1.4m (4.6ft) can visit for free, but they need to pay CNY10 for tour guide and CNY10 for shuttle bus between the caves and the Digital Exhibition Center.
Opening Hours: During May 1st and Oct. 31st: 08:00 – 18:00
During Nov. 1st and the next April 30th: 09:00 – 17:30
Recommended Time for a Visit: 3-5 hours