China’s Hidden Cave Temple Will Soon Be Open to the Public

Marcdf via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Marcdf via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / Marcdf via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world remains intact today, but that doesn't mean there aren't other wonders left to admire. The Royal Cave Temple, part of the renowned Longmen Grottoes in Henan Province, China, is a good example. And on March 10, The Daily Mail reports, for the first time in decades, the cave will be opened to the public.

The Longmen Grottoes are a testament to human creativity and dedication. Over a thousand years ago, artists carved more than 2300 caves and niches into a stretch of limestone less than a mile long. Tucked and carved into these grottoes are nearly 110,000 Buddhist statues, representing 150 years of religious and artistic history. For all their exposure to the elements and human traffic, the grottoes and their inhabitants remain remarkably well-preserved—with the possible exception of the long-hidden Royal Cave Temple, also known as the Kan Jing temple.

Image Credit: kevinmcgill via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Image Credit: Kwz via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Legends of the hidden temple tell of a cave decked out with rare artifacts that span several dynasties. At 30 feet high, 33 feet deep, and 34 feet wide, the Kan Jing Temple occupies the largest grotto on the mountain. Historians believe the cave was first carved out during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 CE) as an imperial shrine for Empress Wu Zetian and, later, her grandson, the Emperor Li Longji. The temple, like so many other national treasures, was destroyed amid the chaos of the Chinese cultural revolution in the 1960s and '70s. Archaeologists have been working to restore the cave and its treasures since, including replacing the temple’s primary statue.

Image Credit: DominikTefert via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Image Credit: Severin Stalder via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

[h/t The Daily Mail]