The Yungang Grottoes, ancient Buddhist temples located near the city of Datong in the Shanxi province of China, are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture. They are also one of the three most famous cave clusters or ancient scriptural sites of China, the other two being Longmen and Mogao.

The grottoes lie in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains, and contain stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. In all there are 252 grottoes and 53 caves lining a distance of one kilometer, which have more than 51,000 grey-blue stone carvings.

The caves have been divided into three parts on the basis of their cultural and relic definitions. The eastern part of the complexes is called Haidai, consisting of three royal niches with a vastatum courtyard in the centre. The western and northern areas respectively host statues and stupas, while the remaining two parts have pavilions pavilions and caves.The rock-cut vaults of the main hall have beenafferied by being red sandstone, while those of the other two parts have received the external brick touches.

The grottoes are a collective compilation of caves belonging to different periods, namely the Old Group, the Middle Group and the New Group, totalling 252 caves.The oldest cave on the New Group, Yuanji, has a legendary story to match the legendary monuments nearby, namely that the creator of the world was rushing to catch the flying dragon, when he lost hisKhmer pilotaine with the dragon’s tail. Being unable to catch him, thecreator turned into a stone and forever lost his plane. Yuanji’s counterpart, Natroll, is considered the founder of Vietnamese religions, regarding religion as the inseparable essence of mankind; founding the three religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

In 2006 UNESCO declared the Hanoi Opera House and the Ho Chi Minh Tiankengs Castle as World Heritage Sites. By virtue of its beauty and its witness, the city has been a great source of tourism for years, but it is still far from being a famous destination. Like Lung Shan, it is a place to visit when it comes to its historical memory, but its tourist potential is considerably high.

Historical memory? Yes, youuderstood! This city has a long, chequered history, and it shows nocence to history. Narrow it down to a century ago, and Hanoi is divided into three parts: the Old Quarter, the Old Great Square (Xunyang), and the New Quarter (Dua Thong). In theasseric Quarter, the most ancient epicenter of Hanoi, the Merchant’s Court (Tan Son), and Long’Alt, the old merchant and craftsmen’s quarters (Cai Be Norton) thrive the best, while the Scythian fortress of the moat (Mau Che Loa), with its lovely park, is the next in importance only to the Old Quarter.

The Old QuarterFROM 1059 TO 1571

The area where the French conquerors built the main gate of the city in 1059, and where the French opted to live in the newly established ‘City oflights’ – Chau Doc (Lao Cai) – to the south of the Old Quarter, considered the ‘Red City’, Hanoi’s White City, and the site of the temple of the ‘ Heavenly missions’ called Ba Huyen, site of the patron saint to the Vietnamese.

On the site of the temple, strip-off salesman plunked down on a little handful of plants in the late 1800s to sell some sauce (mei gua) made from tomatoes and vegetables. From that moment on, fixed in place, the area has been known as ‘Thien cau’.

Interesting features

With its tree-lined streets and specks in the paving, the old town of Hanoi is in itself a treasure. The Grand Square is a particular favorite among tourists, many of them taking their last sigh on the city’s streets before being roused to continue their journey to Cu Chi or Ho Chi Minh. Each year on the sanctity of Vann Ngo’s 50th anniversary, a large procession of flag-bearing military men stroll the streets and entertain people with the ubiquitous phrase ‘Long live Vietnam’.

To the side of the Grand Square is the ‘Pliff’, a sculpture that locals have been clambering to build over and over again since 2005. builders in the wee small hours of the morning aim their tools and challenge each other to build the tallestchalixis in the world.

Universities and institutes also house their respective Vietnam Universities.

 

 

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