Country of the dragon
2012-January-30 Source: Szdaily web edition
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China is called "a country of the dragon." The dragon features prominently in Chinese mythology and folklore. It traditionally symbolized the power, strength and fortune, and thus became a popular symbol of imperial power. Some places in China are associated with emperors and legends. At these places you can learn about Chinese history by tracing the footprints of the dragon. What could be better than visiting these places in the Year of the Dragon?

Longmen Grottoes,Henan

A view of caves in Longmen Grottoes.

Longmen Grottoes (also known as Longmen Caves) are among the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art.

Housing tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples, they are located 12 kilometers south of present-day Luoyang, Henan Province.

The 1,400 caves hold some 100,000 statues, ranging from 1 inch to 57 feet in height. The area also contains nearly 2,500 stelae and inscriptions, whence the name "Forest of Ancient Stelae," as well as over 60 Buddhist pagodas.

Situated in a scenic natural environment, the caves were dug from a 1-kilometer stretch of cliff running along both banks of a river. Thirty percent of them date from the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-557) and 60 percent from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Caves from other periods account for less than 10 percent of the total.

In 2000, the site was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding manifestation of creativity," for its perfection of a form, and for its encapsulation of the cultural sophistication of the Tang Dynasty.

Transport: Direct flights from Shenzhen to Luoyang are very expensive with few flights each week. Fly to Zhengzhou from Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport and take a train to Luoyang and get to the grottoes via bus or taxi.

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Editor: Miranda
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