Datong in north of Shanxi, north China is known for the second-largest of the nearly 51,000 sandstone statues of Buddha in 53 Yungang grottoes; the wooden Hanging Monastery built about 1.400 years ago on extremely sheer cliffs of Hengshan Mountain. Bridges and corridors connect the different buildings of the monastery.
The sunlit giant (at 46 feet high) is the second-largest of the nearly 51,000 sandstone statues of Buddha in 53 Yungang grottoes. Buddhist cave art began here in Datong, 160 miles west of Beijing, in the fifth century, by Xianbei minority, which ruled Northern China for over 200 years.
Located about 80km south-east of Datong, the wooden Hanging Monastery was built about 1.400 years ago on extremely sheer cliffs of Hengshan Mountain. Bridges and corridors connect the different buildings of the monastery. Numerous bronze, iron, stone and clay statues are enshrined in the monastery. In the Three Religions Hall Buddha, Laotze and Confucius are enshrined together.
Ancient City Xian
Xi'an is 1200 kms southwest of Beijing (1hour and forty minute flight); 1084 kms northwest of Shanghai (2 and half hours flight). Xian had long been the capital of ancient China. The emperor Qin Shihuang went on to establish the first imperial capital of China in Chang'an (present day Xi'an). For centuries, the Chinese Empire was governed from this location, and Chang'an remained largely its political hub until the end of the Tang dynasty around 900 AD.
Located at the eastern end of the Silk Road, Xi'an is home to some of the most spectacular sights in China, including the UNESCO-listed mausoleum of Emperor Shihuang with its thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors and their horses. Xi'an's excellent museum is one of the best in China, with Tang Dynasty pottery figurines and other relics. The Muslim Quarter, the Great Mosque, and the spectacular City Walls are all great historical sites.
The lesser known Terracotta Army of Hanyangling, or nicknamed nude figures of warriors" is the mausoleum of the Western Han Emperor Liu Qi and his wife, the Empress Wangi, is located in the village of Zhanjianan on the Loess Plateau 20 km North of Xianyang City and some 22 kilometers from both Xianyang airport and Xi'an.
The 81 pits contained terracotta goods for the afterlife including thousands of animals, dogs, sheep, goats and pigs all formally laid out ready for slaughter. There were stoves, grain jars, wine vessels, horses and chariots all intended for the Emperor's use in the next life. And mostly what amazed historians even more was the discovery of thousands of nude and semi-nude, armless figures of warriors one third life-size.
So no visit to Xi'an should be considered complete tour to China without at least a stop here.
* The Xi'an city is surrounded by a well-preserved defensive wall which was re-constructed during the Ming Dynasty.
* The Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army, located 40 kms to the east of the city's suburbs, is regarded as one of the seventh world wonders.
* The city's Muslim quarter is home to the Great Mosque of Xi'an.
* The Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Small Wild Goose Pagoda are both spectacular towers.
* Datong has China's second-largest grottes in China in with nearly 51,000 sandstone statues of Buddha.
* Climb up the narrow wooden Hanging Monastery on sheer cliffs.
* Visit the village and cave-dwellings on the barren yellow plateau and experience the hard life of local farmers.
Best time to visit
Most time of the year. The climates in Datong & Xi'an are similar to that in Beijing, which is cold in winter and hot in summer.