Long Men Dong

Longmen Grottoes - Dragon's Gate Grottoes

Useful Information

Location: Lushan, Ya'an County near Chengdu City.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave conglomerate limestone
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=13,200 m, VR=356 m, A=1,016 m asl.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Erin Lynch (2003): Caving in conglomerate, Descent (174) Oct/Nov 2003: 32
Erin Lynch (2003): Deepest underground drop; new longest cave, Descent (172) June/July 2003: 23-24
Address: Long Men Dong.
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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This Longmen Dong (Dragon's Gate Cave) is an exceptional cave, but not the famous cave with the same name which is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The other caves are a series of mostly artificial grottoes in Henan, which are famous Buddhist temples with paintings and sculpures. This cave is a karst cave which is developed as a show cave. The special thing with Longmen Dong is that the surrounding rock is conglomerate.

This is the longest known, mapped and explored conglomerate cave in China. It has a length of more than 13 kilometers, which makes it the 7th longest caves of China, but it covers only an area of 1.33 by 1.75 kilometers. This means it is a typical labyrinthical cave system, with a number of loops. An although the total vertical range is 356 m, which makes it the 13th deepest cave of China, there is no shaft or drop and the whole cave is explored entirely without ropes or ladders. The huge cave system is still not completely explored or surveyed, and it may become even bigger.

The show cave uses the bigger one of the two known cave entrances. The cave is rather young, many parts are still very active, with 4,338 m of stream passage, 37 inlets, and four major streamways. There are only a few small speleothems. The typical character of the cave are narrow gorges with typical conglomerate surfaces, round boulders fixed in a fine cement, looking similar to concrete. Being not one of the common dripstone caves, this cave is even more interesting although not as popular as those.