Another not to be missed site along the historical religious journey across Shanxi, are the Yungang Grottoes.

These are just outside of Datong, easily accessible by the public bus. Built over the centuries, this is the largest amount of Buddhist cave carvings found in one location in the world. Every cave had it’s own unique elements and we warmed up by hiking around the various sites.

When you first enter the area you come to the main temple, which around the new year is packed as you must pay your respects and give your new year requests to the deities.

At the end of the long line of caves is this amazing carving, the biggest once exposed to the elements. At one point there was a wooden temple encasing this area, though it was burned during the Japanese occupation in the beginning of World War II. The eyes are also missing from many of the sculptures as they were semi-precious stones the Japanese thought could hold a lot of value or there could have been gold hidden behind the stone eyes.