Dazu Rock Carvings

Dazu Rock Carvings Site, located in Dazu District, refers to all rock carvings in Dazu. Among them, the rock carvings in Baodingshan, Beishan, Nanshan, Shizhuanshan, and Shimenshan were listed as World Heritage Sites in 1999.

Dazu Rock Carvings was built in 650 in the Tang Dynasty and continued to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), and have more than 50,000 statues and over 100,000 Chinese characters in inscriptions and epigraphs. The Buddhist statues dominate this rock carving group, and the Taoist and Confucian stone figures can also be seen. Some are in rock-cut cave shrines, but many others are rock reliefs carved into the open rock faces.

The highlights of the rock grotto are found on Mount Baoding and Mount Beishan.

Baodingshan Rock Carving
Baodingshan is a mountain located northeast of the center of the Dazu District, with an altitude of 527.8m. Baodingshan is a large-scale ashram of Tibetan Buddhism, which holds nearly ten thousand Buddha statues. The rock carvings in Baodingshan include Giant Buddha Bay (which is centered on Shengshou Temple, a magnificent temple built along the mountain) and Lesser Buddha Bay.

The statues in Dafowan are carved according to the landform, and nearly ten thousand Buddha statues are carved on a 500m long cliff. They are tall and magnificent with wide subjects and rigorous design. Buddhist image is full of novel and unique conception, with skillful carving techniques and rich color of folk custom. The content is mainly about the sutra stories. The main features of “Six Recurrents”, “Loving parents Buddhist Image”, “Hail Buddhist Image”, etc. are vivid and full of profound significance. At the same time, some stone tablets are recording the origin of Baodingshan and Buddhism.

Baodingshan Rock Carvings represent the highest sculpture art of China, and among all the sculptures, the Thousand-Hand Kwan-yin is called the national treasure of national treasures. It has 830 hands in total, and all of them are situated in a 7.7 m high and 12.5 m wide grotto. This statue combines sculpture, color paint, and gild art together, and it’s just like the peacock spreads its tail, very stunning.

Beishan Rock Carving
It is 2 km away from the northwest of Dazu County, with an altitude of 545.5m. Chiseled between 892 and 1162, Beishan Rock Carvings were carved in a 300 m long cliff, with a height of 7 to 10 meters. The grottoes are very dense, just like a hive. The statues here are distinct from each other; they are all well-proportioned, with an elegant posture. And portray Tantric Buddhist and Taoist themes. Tourists can see the graceful statue of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, crowned as ‘the Oriental Venus’. Rock carvings in this part reveal the common Buddhist faith.

Nanshan Rock Carving
Standing at the southeast of Dazu County, with an altitude of 514 m, Nanshan was called Guanghua Mountain in ancient times. With serene natural scenery, Nanshan was considered of the top 10 attractions in Dazu since ancient times. The grottoes in Nanshan were carved between 1131 and 1162 on a 86m long cliff, with a height between 3.5m to 10.2m. Unlike other places, Nanshan Rock Carvings was themed on Taoism. There are 15 grottos in total, with 421 statues, and Sanqing Ancient Grotto is the representative work of Nanshan Rock Carvings.

The carvings in Nanshan have vividly reflected belief changing process in the 12th century. In addition, there is a stele recording the history of Sichuan after a Mongol invasion in the 13th century.

Shizhuanshan Rock Carving
Shizhuanshan Rock Carvings is located at Fohui Village, which is 20km from Dazu District. It was carved from 1082 to 1090, and the carved cliff is about 130m long and 3 ~ 8 m wide. The niche of Confucius and that of Lao Tzu can be seen here, and it’s the earliest rock carving district that combines Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. There are ten grottoes in Shizhuanshan, and the most famous one is the No.6 grotto, which carved Confucius and the best 10 disciples of him, which is rare in rock carvings in China.

Shimenshan Rock Carving
Located at Xinsheng Village, 20km east of Dazu County, with an elevation of 374 meters, Shimenshan Rock Carvings were carved from 1094 to 1151. Created on a 71.8m long cliff, with a height of 3.4m to 5m, the whole carvings are mainly about the stories of the characters in Buddhism and Taoism, and it’s the largest one that combines Buddhism and Taoism into one in Dazu Rock Carvings. There are 16 grottoes in total, with 12 of them having figure statues in them, including statues of the Jade Emperor and several gods. Some of them are lifelike, and fully show the high skill of Chinese rock-carving. Besides, there are also some inscriptions and remarks beside the statues.

Useful Information

Best Time: All seasons
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 to 2 days
Opening Time: 08h30~18h00
Tickets: March to November: Baodingshan 115 RMB, Beishan 70 RMB;
December to February: Baodingshan 100 RMB, Beishan 50 RMB.
Address: In DaZu District, Dazu County, Chongqing 重庆市大足区

Dazu Rock Carvings Travel Tips

1. Baodingshan Rock Carvings
Baodingshan Rock Carvings is the essence of Dazu Rock Carvings, and the transportation to it is the most convenient. From the entrance to the attractions, there is a half-hour walk. For those who want to save some energy, you can take the battery car at the entrance, and the ticket is ¥20/per person. The scenic area is not large, yet it’s crowded with tourists, and the most famous Thousand-Hand Kwan-yin was already repaired and is now open to the public. There is a new Dazu Rock Carvings Museum opened in the scenic area, and you can visit it after you finish the sightseeing. If you have no time for Beishan Rock Carvings, then then you must visit the museum to know more about Dazu Rock Carvings.

2. Beishan Rock Carvings
Beishan Rock Carvings is very close to Dazu. Beishan Rock Carvings is suffered from weathering; however, it’s very delicate and beautiful, and the tourists here are far fewer than Baodingshan. The essence of Beishan is No.125 grotto and No.136 grotto.

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