Mogao Caves – The Cave of Thousand Buddha

Mogao Caves
Mogao Caves: Image Credit/viewtheworld.com

China has some wonderful architectural eminence. And the tourist goes gaga over their design and style of construction. From the longest wall to skyscrapers, China has donned everything when it comes to architecture. However, do you known how many of them are listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site? Well, that is exactly what we will be looking for here today! And to start with we have the very beautiful and mesmerizing construction called Mogao Caves. This Cave of the Thousand Buddhas is a cultural and historical significance site that is World Heritage Site as well.

Today in India Imagine we will be looking at the caves carved out by man for faith and religion.

About Mogao Caves

Dunhuang_Mogao
Dunhuang_Mogao: Image Credit/wikipedia.com

Mogao Caves is a sight worth exploring! A marvel design is structured and carved out of a single cliff. It is situated in the southeast of the Gansu Province. Mogao Caves is considered as the treasure house to most of the wonderful art of China. The construction of the caves started in the 4th century and represented and become the cultural icon of the land.
This architecture is pure evidence of some famous civilizations Sui, Song and Tang. Which in the long run proved to be amazing evidence to the evolution of Buddhist religion and art? The artifacts and other materials stand proof to the aforesaid. Inside the Buddhist cave is the route to trade and export for centuries. It is famously called the Silk Route. Also, there are some extraordinary wall paintings preserved inside the caves.

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History of Mogao Caves

Mogao Caves
Mogao Caves: Image Credit/viewtheworld.com

As evidence states that the Mogao Caves signifies great historic value, the cultural and artistic aspects cannot be nullified. This massive structure was carved out of a single cliff with more than 400 cells inside it. These caves were used as the silk route to many valuable trades of China. To build such a unique architecture was indeed an extraordinary affair during the 4th century.

However, the Mogao Caves were built with indefinite satire and thousands of valuable art and wall paintings were preserved inside the cells. Also, the travelers and explorers found the political, religious and cultural aspects in the cave very predominantly. When some other caves within the Mogao Caves were discovered tons of manuscripts were recovered from them. And without any doubt, the place proved once again the cultural significance of the caves. Tourists love the beauty of the design and the history that comes along with it.

The Root of Buddhism of Mogao Caves

buddha statue china
buddha statue china: Image Credit/chinadiscovery.com

The main travelers of the early times are merchants and traders. However, it is the Monks who elaborated and frequently used the Silk Route that got the essence of Buddhism to this land. The majority are of Indian origin. India is known to be the root of the Buddhist culture and major influence. However, the well-painted caves of Mogao look beautiful and pave the way to the path of Buddhism.

But it is said that the story behind the origin of the Mogao Caves remains a mystery for a long time. It is said in the year 366 CE one of the Monk travelers dreamt the face of a thousand Buddha on a cliff. And that is exactly what motivated the monk to excavate the place and carve caves out of the cliff. This is the most relevant story to date.

The purpose of the Mogao Caves

China Mogao Caves
China Mogao Caves: Image Credit/chinaprinciples.com

Mogao Caves were not used for any normal stay, it was instead used for the monks to stay and cultivate and learn more things. Monks from far away visited the place to preach Buddhism. They also excavated caves for further purposes. And they stayed there to preach, write and flourish the religion. Several Temples were constructed during this time. During this era, China witnessed a tremendous flourish of Buddhism. And gradually Dunhuang becomes the place for religious predominance.

The caves were built on the top of the cliff due to two main reasons. One of which is the monk story that we had discussed earlier. The Monk dreamt of a thousand Buddha faces on a cliff and went on to excavate caves there. The other reason is that if you have noticed the majority of Monasteries and Buddhist caves are constructed on a height. Mostly on mountains or hills. The reason behind it is to get a clean environment and fresh air. Also, it will allow the environment less pollution and the first sunrise will illuminate through the place.

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China is a land of many man-made marvels! The Great Wall of China says it all. However, there are a few gems of places that we are not much aware of. The Mogao Caves are one such place that requires proper attention. Among such big names, we don’t want this magnificent UNSECO Heritage Site to get lost. Hence, spread the word about the beautiful place and visit on your next trip to China. I bet you would never regret the decision. Till you think about it, it’s bye from me!
Bon Voyage