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Mogao Caves

 Dunhuang Attractions

Shanhaiguan Great Wall Introduction to Mogao Caves (莫高窟)

The Mogao Grottoes, a World Heritage Site on the Silk Road, is located near the ancient town of Dunhuang in northwestern China. Mogao Caves, a shrine of Buddhist art treasures, 25 km from downtown Dunhuang on the eastern slope of Mingsha Shan (Singing sand dunes). A network of plank reinforced roads plying north to south 1600 meters. Mogao means high up in the desert.

Dating from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries, the ancient Buddhist site contains 492 decorated caves temples excavated into 1.6 kilometers of cliff face. The site includes some 45,000 square meters of wall paintings and over 2,400 polychromed sculptures comprising the largest body of Buddhist art in China.

Mogao Caves are commonly known as the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas.According to Tang Dynasty records, a monk had witnessed onsite a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays. Thus inspired, he started the caves construction work that spanned ten dynasties.

Buddhist art had its origins in ancient India. Mogao sculptors improvised when the rock surface did not work well under their chisels. They placed clay statues in front of the cave walls, carved relief murals as backdrops, and painted the sidewalls and ceilings with art decors. The largest statue is 34.5 meters high and the smallest a mere 2 centimeters high.

The traveler will note traces of Indian Buddhist art in the earlier works. More recent works depict all walks of life and activities in a local setting. You will relive the daily routines and special events as captured by the artists while you are exploring the 750 caves. 

The Mogao Caves are a depository of historical and cultural exchanges over more than a thousand years between China and other nations.People believe it possible to fill 25 kilometers (15.5miles) of gallery space with the works of art from Mogao. There are 50,000 manuscripts written in many languages apart from artifacts. 

Shanhaiguan Great Wall


West of Hexi Corridor, Dunhuang, Gansu Province

Shanhaiguan Great Wall

Travel Information

Admission Fee: 1st May - 31st Oct: 220 Yuan, 1st Nov - 30th Apr: 120 Yuan

Opening Hours: 1st May - 31st Oct: 8:00AM – 6:00PM, 1st Nov - 30th April: 9:00AM – 5:30PM

Shanhaiguan Great Wall


1. Take a bus from Dunhuang Hotel that passes by Silk Road Hotel and Dunhuang Railway Station. It costs 8 Yuan, with the earliest bus at 8:00AM.

Shanhaiguan Great Wall

Travel Tips 

1. Try to avoid visiting Mogao Grottoes during Golden week and summer holidays.

Shanhaiguan Great Wall

Tour including Visiting Mogao Caves

9-Day Xian, Lanzhou, Zhangye, Jiayuguan and Dunhuang Tour

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