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Mogao Grottoes: Right in the Heart of the Buddhist Culture

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Mogao Grottoes or Mogao Caves are located in northwestern part of Gansu Province, approximately 25 kilometers into the southeastern part of Dunhuang city. There are a series of grottoes placed in the list of UNESCO, making the site under the protection of world cultural heritage. It displays the ancient Chinese treasury of history, art, and culture from more than 1,700 years ago. 
 
The site is also known as the Thousand Buddha Caves or Dunhuang Caves, resembling a network of cave temples for believers and practitioners of Buddhism. A Chinese epithet describes this important spot as a “glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road.” The single locality that holds countless Buddhist artworks and items is undoubtedly a must-see place for Buddhists from around the world. The scenic spot showcases countless shrines and temples that contain murals, sculptures, and manuscripts.
 
What You Will See Today
 
Mogao Grottoes are basically sandstone cliffs that were carved out by hand. It took thousands of years in order for those grottoes to be constructed and completed, approximately from 4th to 14th century CE. Nowadays, only over half of the original Mogao Grottoes remain intact and which contain mural paintings that span 45,000 square meters. There are also over 2,000 painted sculptures that are displayed and made available for guests and tourists to see.
 
Scripture Cave
 
The site is home to a repository of ancient Buddhist scriptures which have been discovered by Wang Yuanlu, a Taoist abbot and self-appointed caretaker way back in the 20th century. The Scripture Cave is a cave that is carefully hidden behind a wall.
 
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Dunhuang Manuscripts
 
There are Han and non-Han Chinese texts or characters among the important Dunhuang Manuscripts that are now on exhibit in the Mogao Grottoes. It is reported that 10% of the Han manuscripts are secular in nature and have been distributed between official records and private documents. These documents play a crucial role in providing significant insights into the ancient history of the Chinese and Central Asian people as well as politics, religion, geography, literature, technology, and arts.
 
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Largest Buddhist Art Collection
 
The decorated ceilings and walls of the caves depict the stories of Lord Buddha through elaborate paintings. There are ornamental designs, sutras, and portraits of other cave donors, primarily wealthy families, local officials, and Buddhist monks at the time of the construction of the grottoes.
 
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Mogao Grottoes 2017 Updates and More
 
The Mogao Grottoes Management Office recently issued a 2017 notice to make their services better for travelers as well as travel agencies. 
 
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Mode of Visit
 
According to their released memo, Mogao Grottoes now implement the real-name booking system as well as the real-name ticket entry system. These systems are in compliance with the country’s Tourism Law requirements and the single-day maximum passenger limit which is 6,000. For its peak season, there is likely to be a large passenger emergency plan to be implemented.

Booking and Ticket Purchase
 
All visitors are required to visit the Mogao Grottoes Booking website or add the app or website to their Wechat account. They can also directly call the booking telephone number at 4008-333-715. Those who have successfully booked a ticket are required to show their valid passport and their ticket’s booking number in order to get their ticket from the office. Travel agencies should also show their tour group plans and book numbers along with the required valid passports.
 
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Low and Peak Seasons
 
According to the management office, Mogao Grottoes’ low season officially starts on the 1st of November and lasts up to the 30th of April every year. Peak season expects hundreds and thousands of visitors to the site which is between 1st of May and the 30th of October. The caves and grottoes that are normally open to the public are 40 all in all but there are also 20 adjustment caves and 10 special caves. There are temporary adjustments and related policies now applied on the caves in order to protect the Mogao Grottoes cultural relics. 
 
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Most Recent Happenings at Mogao Grottoes and Caves
 
Hundreds of Buddhist worshippers and practitioners gathered to the site in commemoration of the birthday of Buddha Sakyamuni last May 3rd, 2017. Guests and visitors basically explore the huge Buddhist artwork collections that are being displayed on the site. According to the traditional Lunar Calendar, the founder of Buddhism celebrates his birthday on this particular date, prompting thousands of tourists to flock to the area.

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Present-Day Buddhist Learning Centre
 
Due to the cultural heritage and treasure-trove nature of Mogao Grottoes, the place instantly became a learning centre for those who are practicing Buddhism. Currently, temples are where you can find Buddhist texts and Buddhist sutras being translated into Mandarin. These important manuscripts and texts were then spread from the Mogao Grottoes to numerous cities all through China.
 
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