Shikong Giant Buddha Temple

Last updated by shyoto at 2014/5/23

Shikong Giant Buddha Temple, also known as Shikong Grottoes, is located within the territory between south of Shuanglong Hill and Jinsha Village, 2 kilometers away from Zhongning County of Ningxia. Shikong Giant Buddha Temple was initially built in the Tang Dynasty about several hundred years ago and was refurbished large-scaly in the Ming Dynasty.

The temple is divided into east, middle, and west parts. Pagodas dominate the eastern parts, and caves are small and mid-sized, filled with niches. Caves in the middle are made up of front and back chambers with Buddha statues in the center. Embossing covers all the walls and ceilings.

There are 13 caves inside Shikong Giant Buddha Temple, but there are only three groups of them. The whole complex might not be as extensive as the one in Dunhuang, which has more than 700 caves, but you can get to see more caves (in Dunhuang you can only join a tour that visits merely about 10 caves), so you would have more fun in Shikong Grottoes than in Dunhuang Grottoes, and you can obtain a more private and intimate experience there, for visitors are allowed wandering about in the caves without many restrictions. You aren't required to hire a tour guide, you can stay as long as you like, and you can take photographs as you wish.

The Shikong Temple is still an active temple with a sense of living history and Buddhist atmosphere. Mostly interestingly, you will see some monks chanting in a processional through the courtyards. And other monks scurry about the temple on their busy schedule of daily tasks.

Along the two sidewalls of the entrance hallway, you can find quite a few elaborate brick carvings. Most of the carvings were of the traditional decorative patterns. By taking a closer look of them, you'll find details reflecting the local culture, such as the tea set for Eight-treasure tea is a favorite of Ningxia Hui people.

Moreover, the grottoes are not merely the cultural treasures of the distant past, but also contemporary objects of veneration. Small offerings and red ribbons are decorating many of the relics. Every eighth day of the forth month according to the Lunar Calendar, the grottoes will be crowded with a large number of visitors and religious people for worshipping, watching plays, doing business or visiting.

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