33 Himmelsgrotten - 33 Heavens Grotttoes

Thirty-three Heavens Grottos, Matisi Temple Grottoes 2018

Located in the autonomous county of Sunye Yugu in Zhangye City, Matisi Temple or Mati Temple or Mati Si is a tourist area that combines cave art, Qilian mountain scenery and the culture of national minorities. The area is a large group of caves, consisting of 7 small groups up to 30 kilometers long. There is no official record showing the exact date of construction of the Matisi Temple. However, a large number of poets have portrayed the Matisi Temple in their works, and the earliest date back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Due to its long history, the Matisi Temple, in conjunction with the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang and the Yulin Caves in Anxi, are considered to be the three artistically valued grottos of the Holy Hexi Buddha Land.

The entire Matisi temple can be divided into different parts: Qianfo Grottoes, North and South Matisi Temples, Linsong Waterfall, King Gesar Palace, and Guanyin Caves. The legend says that a horse from the sky once left a trail of hooves here, and so the temple got its name.

The pagoda forest is in the north. There are dozens of pagodas in various forms, densely scattered in the red palisades, forming a sacred forest. The carving techniques used in these pagodas are rarely found in other caves in China, but are very similar to the Wuge Caves in Cambodia and show that Tibetan Buddhism was imported to China long ago.

Another attraction nearby is the 33 heavenly caves. They have 7 floors and 21 grottoes, which are interconnected. With a pagoda shape, this construction is rather rare and characteristic. In the highest grotto stands the statue of the Green Tara Bodhisattva. In the left part of the highest grotto, there is a statue of the White Tara Bodhisattva. She is referred to by the locals as Songzi Guanyin.


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