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Silk Road Gansu Travel

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Silk Road Gansu Travel

Gansu Province
Gansu Province is located in the northwestern China. Gansu covers an area of 175,289 square mile with a population of 24 million. The capital is Lanzhou. The province lies between Qinghai-Tibet and Inner Mongolia and rises 4,921 feet above sea level.

To the west of Lanzhou and west of the Yellow River is the famous "Hexi Corridor," an important strategic passage on the ancient Silk Road stretching to the west. This area abounds in rich historical and cultural heritage, including grottoes, ancient buildings and other cultural relics.

Many ethnic groups congregate in Gansu, which makes it a unique tourist destination with a variety of folk customs. The scenes of grassland, the Gobi desert, and snow-covered mountains add beauty to this mysterious land.


Lanzhou was called Jincheng in the past and is now the capital of Gansu Province. The Yellow River flows through Lanzhou, which is the center of transportation in northwest. It has an ideal environment for melons and honeydew melons and peach. Tourists can view the Yellow River from the green corridor. Binghe Road, Gansu Provincial Museum and Five-Spring Mountain are also attractive.

Five-Spring Mountain
Located at the northern foot of Gaolan Mountain in Lanzhou, Five-Spring Mountain is 5,250 feet above sea level. It was so named because there are five springs in the mountain. Chongqing Temple is symbolic of the traditional architecture in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Labrang Lamasery
Located in western Xiahe County in Gansu Province, Labrang Lamasery can be reached by a 5 to 6 hour drive south from Lanzhou. The lamasery was built in 1709 in the 48th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. It is one of the six largest religious temples of the Gelug Sect of China's Lamaism, second only to Potala Palace in Lhasa at Tibet. The lamasery covers 202 acres and has more than 10,000 halls and accommodates over 3,000 lamas.

Bingling Lamasery
It is situated in southwestern Yongjing County, on the steep cliffs along the north bank of the Yellow River. It can be only reached after traveling 46 miles by car and then by boat. The word "Bingling" means "thousand Buddhas," or "10 thousand Buddhas" in Tibetan language. The Bingling Lamasery has a history of over 1,500 years. The grottoes are 1.2 miles long and were built in four layers into the mountain. The temple houses 183 grottoes, nearly 800 statues and about a quarter acre of frescoes.

Gansu Provincial Museum

Gansu Provincial Museum, in Qilihe District, Lanzhou was opened in early 1956. It contains more than 80,000 artifacts. The most prized objects in the museum are the bronze galloping horses, unearthed in the Eastern Han Tomb in the Lejtai Temple in Wuwei City, and a gold coffin of Sarira in the Dayun Temple of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Jiayuguan Pass
Jiayuguan Pass is famous because it is the western ending point of the Great Wall. Jiayuguan City is located at the central part of the Hexi Corridor. Jiayuguan Pass was an important strategic spot in ancient times. It has been a magnificent pass for over 160 years. Although it is a booming industrial city now, there are many rich tourist resources, for example the Jiayuguan Pass, the Suspended Great Wall, and the Great Wall Museum. Other attractions include the Mural Tomb of the Kingdom of Wei and Jin Dynasties, Qiyi Glacier and Jiayuguan Glide Range.

The Suspended Great Wall
The Suspended Great Wall was called the West Great Wall in the past. It is 5 miles north of Jiayuguan Pass and was built on the east side of Heishan Mountain in 1539, which was the 18th year of Jiajing's reign of the Ming Dynasty. The walls were made of compressed earth. In some places the wall is almost vertical so that it has been called the Cliff Wall.

The Great Wall Museum in Jiayuguan
The Great Wall Museum in Jiayuguan is located to the south of Xinhua Road. It exhibits the Chinese history through the construction of the wall starting from the Warring States Period of the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC) to the Northern Wei Dynasty (368-535), Sui, Tang and Ming dynasties.


Dunhuang used to be called Shazhou and is at the western end of the Hexi Corridor. Dunhuang adjoins Anxi to the east, and borders Aksay all the way to the neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the northwest. There are many tourist attractions in Dunhuang, which is listed as a state historic and cultural city.

Mogao Grottoes
The Mogao Grottoes, also known as "1000 Buddha Cave", are located 15.5 miles southeast of Dunhuang City. With a total length of 1 mile, the Grottoes wind their way through the broken cliff at the eastern foot of Mingsba Hill. There are five layers of caves built into the mountain. According to historical records, the Mogao Grottoes were constructed in 366 BC. Today there are 492 caves in which murals and sculptures representing different dynasties have been well preserved. The Mogao Grottoes are listed in the World Cultural Heritage and are rated as key relics under state protection.

Ruins of Yumenguan Pass
Yumenguan Pass is located in the Gobi Desert 54 miles northwest of Dunhuang City. It was built during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. Its name came from the fact that jade from Hotan in Xinjiang entered Central China through this pass. At that time, the pass provided the only access to the north route of the Silk Road.

Yueya (Crescent Moon) Spring
Yueya Spring is near the northern foot of Mingsha Hill in the southern suburbs of Dunhuang City. It is shaped like a crescent moon, and its clear water is surrounded by grass. The Dragon Boat Festival is usually celebrated the 5th day of the fifth lunar month and people usually climb up onto Mingsha Hill to view Yueya Spring. This has become a local custom.

Ruins of Yangguan Pass
The Yangguan Pass was constructed in the period of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty on the Gudong River Bed, 43.5 miles west of Dunhuang. It's named Yangguan because it borders the southern part of Yumenguan Pass. As a center of communication to areas beyond China's interior, it was the only strategic pass on the south route of the Silk Road.

Mingsha Hill
Mingsha Hill, also called Shensha Hill, is 3.7 miles south of Dunhuang City. The hill is as high and steep as a cliff. People can hear a roaring sound of the moving sand as the sand is blown down from the top of the hill.

In east Gansu, known as the "Small South of the Yangtze River," Tianshui is one of the major cities that offer itineraries for travel eastward. Its weather is pleasant with four distinct seasons. The city used to be a hub of the Silk Road, and is recognized as a national historical and cultural center. There are many interesting places, including some holy sites of the Silk Road, and scenic spots, such as Maljishan Grottoes, Fuxi Temple and Yuquan Taoist Temple.

Maijishan Grottoes
They are situated 18.6 miles southeast of Tianshui. Due to the conical shape, like a stack of wheat, they were given the name Maijishan Grottoes. During the year 713-741, the central part of the cliff collapsed in an earthquake. As a result, it was divided into two parts. Within the 194 caves of the two parts, 7,200 clay sculptures and stone carvings have been preserved, along with more than one third of an acre of frescos.

Maijishan Mountain is a strange peak in the western Qinling Mountains. In autumn it is subjected to continual, fine rain, which creates the wonderful sight of "Maijishan Mountain shrouded by misty rain." It is rated as the best of the eight beautiful scenes in Tianshui.

Wuwei, which was called Liangzhou in the past, is located at the eastern edge of the Hexi Corridor and borders Qilian Mountain to the southwest and Tenggeli Desert in the north. It is an important stop on the way west from Lanzhou. Ancient Liangzhou was a large city; Monk Xuanzang preached Buddhist doctrines here. Wuwei has many places of interest, such as the Eastern Han Tomb in Leitai Temple, Haizang Temple and Tiantishan Grottoes.

The Eastern Han Tomb in Leitai Temple
The Eastern Han Tomb was also named "The Tomb of General Zhang" after a general of the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). He was buried in Leitai Temple after his death. A rare piece of art, a model of the "galloping horse stepping on a sparrow," was unearthed from this tomb.

The Tomb of Princess Hong Hua
The Tomb of the Princess of the Tang Dynasty is 9.3 miles south of Wuwei City. It contains well-preserved colored wooden figurines, camels and horses, as well as silk fabrics. They serve as samples for research in regards to the history of Silk Road.

Zhangye, in the central part of the Hexi Corridor, was known as Ganzhou in the past and is regarded as a granary in this area. Visitors can visit the sleeping Buddha in the Giant Buddha Temple. Visitors can get the feel of the prairie in south Gansu, riding horses and tame deer on the grasslands with the hospitable Yugur people. There are also opportunities to sing and dance with the Yugur people. Mati Temple is near Zhangye in the Sunan area.

Yugur Ethnic Group
The Yugur ethnic minority, one of China's many nationalities, numbers more than 10,000. They live on the Sunan grassland near the northern foot of Qilian Mountain by the ancient Silk Road, which is in Sunan Yugur Autonomous County. All Yugur people are adept at riding horses and skilled in singing and dancing. Visitors can taste the local dishes and enjoy such customs as drinking barley wine and eating mutton.

Jiuquan has a variety of historic and cultural sites including the Jiuquan scenic spots dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC- 25 AD) and the many murals from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) tomb. It is also a well-known wine glass production city.

Luminous Wine Glasses
Jiuquan has a long history of producing luminous wineglasses, called jade cups. Jiuquan's luminous wineglasses are polished by jade stones from Qilian Mountain and by "mandarin-duck jade" produced in Wushan Mountain. They are made in the style of ancient glasses and are brightly colored in order to have an elegant appearance.

Long ago, Anxi was called Guazhou and it is the only local in existence between Jiayuguan and the Dunhuang. The art of the Dunhuang Grottoes, Yulin Grottoes and the Ruins of the Ancient City of Suoyang are located in Anxi.

Yulin Grottoes
Yulin Grottoes, also named as the Ten Thousand Buddha Gorge, is situated on the cliffs of Qilian Mountain on both banks of Yulin River, 43 miles south of Anxi. There are 41 caves, numerous murals, and hundreds of colored sculptures, all well preserved. The murals depict the Buddha, Buddhist idols and Buddhist stories


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