北石窟寺

Beishiku Si - North Grotto Temple


Useful Information

Location: Qingyang City, 25 km southwest of Xiaosigou.
(35.611205, 107.532291)
Open: All year daily 9:20-17:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults CNY 30.
[2021]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: n/a
Dimension: A=1,083 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Beishiku Si, Qingyang City, Tel: +86-.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

509 caves erected by Jingzhou provincial governor 奚康生 (Xi Kangsheng).
1959 rediscovered by the Gansu Provincial Museum Cultural Relics Task Force conducting a general survey of cultural relics in Longdong area.
13-FEB-1963 declared a provincial-level cultural relics protection unit by the People's Government of Gansu Province.
13-JAN-1988 listed as National key unit of the State Council People's Republic of China

Description

北石窟寺 (Beishiku Si, North Grotto Temple) is considered one of the four most important cave temples in the Chinese province of Gansu. It is located at the confluence of the 蒲河 (Pu He River) and 茹河 (Ru He River) in the southeast of the city 董志镇 (Dongzhi). It was cut into the red sandstone of the Zhongshan Mountain. The temple was erected by Jingzhou Governor 奚康生 (Xi Kangsheng) in 509. At that time, a monk rebellion broke out in Jingzhou, and the local government could not control the situation. They sent for help and Xi Kangsheng was sent to end the rebellion. It seems he ended the rebellion and many monks and nuns were killed, so he ordered the construction of the temple out of guilt. It was later extended multiple times, and most of the grottoes, about two thirds, were created during the Tang dynasty. After the 14th century no new caves were created but the site was still in use and was renovated several times. But in the early 20th century it was abandoned and was damaged due to political reasons and natural disasters.

The most interesting is Grotto No. 165, which is 16 m deep, 21 m wide and 13 m high and was built from 508 to 512. It contains eight 8m high Buddha statues, 10 Bodhisattvas which are three to four meters high, amd two cross-legged Buddha statues which are 5.8 m high. Along the walls are numerous reliefs and carvings with images of warriors and lions.

Also interesting is Beishikusi Cave No. 222 from the Tang Dynasty. The front wall is carved with one Buddha, two disciples, and two Bodhisattvas. The north and south walls of the cave are covered with small Buddha niches, mostly square, domed or rectangular. Each niche contains one Buddha and either two Bodhisattvas, two disciples, or both. Buddhas are sitting, disciples or bodhisattvas are standing.

Cave 135 was create during the Western Wei Dynasty. The floor is almost semicircular, and it has a dome with a curtain carved on the front and two corners with lotus flowers. on the front wall of the cave is a Buddha, on the north and south walls are a Bodhisattva and a powerful man. The walls behind the statues show four relief figures of Ji Le Ren and four Bhikkhus.

The main grottoes are distributed on the cliff which is 10 m high and 120 m long, 295 niches contain over 2,100 statues. There are numerous other caves in the surroundings like 寺沟主窟群 (Sigou zhukuqun), 楼底村一窟 (Loudicun yiku), 石道坡石窟 (Shidaopo shiku), 花鸨崖石 (Huabaoyashi), and 石崖东台石窟群 (Shiya dongtai shikuqun).