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Useful Information | Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang | White Horse Temple | Guanlin Temple | Museum of Ancient Tombs | Luoyang Museum | Luoyang Peony | Cave Dwellings (Yaodong) |

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Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang

The Longmen Grottos are on the Yihe River bank, some 12 kilometers from ancient Luoyang city, about 30 minutes' drive. It is one of the three most important Buddhist sculptures and carvings in China. The Longmen Grottos enjoy a good location where two mountains confront each other between which flows the Yihe River.

The grotto was first carved in North Wei Dynasty, over 1500 years ago and expanded through the succeeding East and West Wei Dynasties, North Qi Dynasty, North Zhou Dynasty, Sui and Tang Dynasties and was finally completed in North Song Dynasty. Over 500 years' renovation and expansion have created the prestigeous world cultural site. The most significant chiseling activities happened in the Tang and Norh Wei Dynasties, which lasted over 150 years.
Spanning a length of around 1 kilometer on the hillside along the Yihe River, the niches resemble dozens of honeycombs dotting the area. There are about 2.100 grottoes and niches, over 40 crematory urns, 3,600 inscribed stone tablets and over 100,000 Buddhist images and statues. The largest one is 17 meters high while the smallest is a tiny as 2 cm. One third of the complex are works of the North Wei Dynasty. These masterpieces are the Binyang Cave, and Lianhua( Lotus Cave). The impressive Qianxi Temple, Fengxian Temple, Wanfo Cave( Ten Thousand Buddhist Cave) are the highlights of the Tang Dynast's carvings.

The Longmen Grottos are of great value in world sculpture history and it has been listed in the World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO. To protect such a valuable heritage site, the Chinese government as well as some influential world cultural organizations are trying hard to share this site with the whole word. A large-scaled renovation was undertaken in 2003 to keep the grottos in good condition.

White Horse Temple

Located at the 12 kilometers east of Luoyang city, the White Horse Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China and is renowned as the cradle of Chinese Buddhism. Although it is not the largest nor the most beautiful Buddhism monument in China, this temple with its large number of Buddhism items housed there, is well worth a trip.

An interesting legend related to the temple goes that a white horse carried the first Buddhist script from India here in ancient time hence the name White Horse Temple. History records that the site was original the place used by the second Han Emperor-Liu Zhuang as a summer resort and for study. In 68 AD, when Buddism reached its heyday in India, two Indian monks brought Buddhist scriptures to Luoyang on the back of a white horse. The emperor, who was a devout Buddhism believer, built the temple to house the scriptures and named it White Horse Temple. It was said that there were once thousands of monks living in the temple. It was even used as a refugee sanctuary during the social turmoil of Wang Mang in the Eastern Han Dynasty.

The two monks who brought scriptures from India were buried here. Many monks from outside China have visited the monk and many of them have spent the rest of their time in that temple. The famous Tang Dynasty monk-Xuanzang started his 17 years long pilgrimage trip to Indian from the temple. After returning, Xuanzhang became the abbot of the White Horse Temple, where he disseminated the scriptures of Buddhism for the rest of his life.

Guanlin Temple

At the end of Guanlin Nan Lu, Guanlin Temple was built to commemorate the great general Guanyu of the State of Shu during the Three Kingdoms Period. In the Romance of Three Kingdoms, the Shu general Guanyu was defeated, captured and executed by Sunquan, the ruler of the State of Wu. Fearing revenge from Guanyus blood brother Liubei who was the ruler of the State of Shu, Sunquan ordered to send Guanyus head to Caocao-ruler of Wei in an attempt to deflect the responsibility for the death. Caocao, however, was an admirer of Guan's loyalty and bravery. He ordered a wooden body be carved to accompany the head before Guanyu was buried.

Very little is known about when the temple was first built. The complexwas developed during the Ming Dynasty and was underwent several renovation and expansion during the succeeding Qing Dynasty. It's now comprised of halls, temples, pavilions and Guan's Tomb. Some valuable stone tablets with elegant calligraphies are also found here. The place is very popular among the locals who worship the valorous general by burning sticks of incense.

Museum of Ancient Tombs

An interesting old saying goes that Suzhou and Hangzhou are good places to live, while Luoyang is a good place to die. Many of the ancient emperors, princes, generals and other public celebrities took this advice and left orders that they were to be buried in Luoyang after their death. There are over 20 ancient tombs dating from the Han Dynasty to the North Song Dynasty. A museum was built at the site where many ancient tombs were excavated.

The museum is at the Mang Hill in the north suburb of the city, about 8 kilometers from the city center. Covering an area of around 3 hectare, it has two parts: the underground and above ground parts. The above ground part contains a Han-style gate, some halls. Tomb models from the Stone Age to the Han Dynasty, restored funerary objects and funeral rituals are displayed in the eastern hall.

The underground section is a tomb groups site which is about 7 meters underground. There are North and South Song Dynasties Hall, Wei and Jin Dynasties Hall, Tang and Song Dynasties Hall and a hall for refined items excavated from the tombs. Many of the vividly painted  murals, valuable relics and a number of pottery figures are on display here. Visitors can also find the models of ancient tombs. 22 ancient tombs restored to their original styles are displayed here.

Luoyang Museum

Luoyang served as the capitals for a long period of time. History has left the place a large number of historical rare relics. Many of these rarely seem items can be found at the Luoyang Museum. The museum is located at the city center, very easy to find.

The museum's exhibition center displays refined ancient items including bronze wares, ceramics, gold and silver artifacts and jade. These exhibitions offer a good illustration of the city's grand past.

Luoyang Peony

Luoyang is renowned as: the city of peony. The city has long been famous for its beautiful peony flowers. Peony, has been called the King of Flowers for its gorgeous charm and unbelievably beauty. The Flower has been a symbol of grace in China. Ancient Chinese poets once compared peony with the beautiful and elegant ladies and thought the two were equally pleasant to the eye.

Luoyang has a long history of planting peony. Peony growing began to prevail in the region in the ancient Sui Dyansty, over one thousand years ago. In the Tang Dynasry, many famous gardens for peony were built and peony was planted on a massive scale. Luoyang became the country's peony cultivation and trade center in the Song Dynasty. Luoyang Peony is international famous for the Peony. Luoyang's unique climate is well suited to its peony growing culture. Luoyang is located in the temperate zone with favorable and humid climate all year around.

Luoyang peony is well-known for its big flowers and many varieties. Each year, in late spring when the peonies are in full blossom, thousands of visitors swarm to the city to enjoy the stunningly beautiful flowers. The international Peony Festival held here annually adds even more fame to Luoyang's peony.

Cave Dwellings (Yaodong)

Cave dwellings in Chinese are called Yaodong, which means arched tunnels. Cave dwellings stretch across six provinces in north China and a large number of people still live in such ancient and traditional" architecture". People in villages on the Loess plateau in Luoyang and Sanmenxia, a small city on the Luoyang-Xian railway, have been living in cave dwelling since ancient times. The thick Loess in the area makes it's very easy for cave-digging. In ancient times, the the lack of tools prevented the people from buildingabove the ground so they dug caves for themselves. The tradition of digging and living in caves was passed passed down over generations.

Cave dwellings around a courtyard are very interesting scenes. The locals first select a good place, then dig a around 100 square meters pit. They then dig caves on the four sides and a tunnel leading to the surface on one of the sides A well is dug at the center of the pit. The Cave dwellings are cool in summer and warm in winter.  

It is not clear how many people live in caves these days but there is a large number because this unique residential architecture is widely used and scattered everywhere outside the cities in this region.


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