The Mati Temple grotto is in Su’nan, in the Gu autonomous county. It is around 65 km north of the Zhangye City. The roads are good for driving to the tourist destination.
While the distance from the city is not much, the roads are quite steep so the travel can take more than an hour. Public buses are also available in Zhangye. From Su’nan, taxis are available to visit the temple.
Things to Do
The Name of the Temple
Mati Temple is also known as the Horse’s Hoof Temple. It is a very popular scenic spot which integrates Yugu minority group’s folk customs, mountain views and grotto art. The temple received its name due to the legend that a Chinese Pegasus had landed in the area and had left a large horseshoe imprint which can be seen even today in the Mati Hall.
Mati Temple is a major tourist attraction. The region centers upon Mati, a Tibetan village which is still unspoiled. The area has grasslands and mountains with many temples and beautiful pine forests. Around the main Mati Temple are stairwells leading to beautiful balcony views, temples, caves and winding passageways. One of the most beautiful temples here is the Golden Pagoda Temple or Jinta si which is home to a mummified body decorated as the Chinese flying goddess or Asparas. It is kept in fairly good condition due to the dry climate of the region.
Those who wish to explore the area further and stay a few days may want to reside in a tent of Yugu minority. Here travelers can enjoy Chang which is a Tibetan wine made from barley as well as sample the authentic Tibetan lamb. The nomads living in the area have many unique customs and lifestyle. Those who are adventurous may want to try horse riding.
The entire grotto is made up of the Lower Guanyin Cave, Middle Guanyin Cave, Upper Guanyin Cave, Jinta Temple, Qianfo Cave, Puguang Temple and Shenguo Temple. The temple was built first during the Liang period and it is home to over 70 shrines and caves. The Puguang Temple is home to the Mati Hall where the horse hoof imprint can still be found today.
The Uniqueness of the Temple
The Mati Temple and the grotto are unique due to the grand Buddhist towers, shrines and caves in the Qianfo Cave. These total to be over 500. The Jinta Temple is home to a large Apsara sculpture which is known for its primitive elegance and simplicity and is very unique. The Puguang Temple is also home to the Thirty Three Heaven Cave which has more than 21 grottos at five different levels. These are arranged in the shape of a pagoda and have corridors outside and Buddhist halls inside. There are more than 49 shrines and caves here with unique designs.
The Natural Beauty
Surrounding the Mati Temple are beautiful hills, peculiar caves, unusual peaks and green waters. Tourists can get the chance to interact with the people of Yugu Minority tribe, try the authentic stewed lamb and learn more about their cultural characteristics and their unique lifestyle as true nomads.