Dazu Grottoes

Baodingshan Caves of Dazu

Useful Information

Location: near the city of Chongqing
Classification: SubterraneaCave Temple Buddhist cave temples
Light: n/a
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Angela Falco Howard (2001): Summit of Treasures: Buddhist Cave Sculpture of Dazu, China, Weatherhill; 1st edition (December 2001), hardcover, 240pp, ISBN: 0834804271
(n.y.): Dazu grottoes, Foreign Languages Press : Distributed by China International Book Trading Corp. (Guoji Shudian); 1st ed. edition
Address: Dazu Grottoes, Tel: +86-, Fax: +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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650 oldest carvings and inscriptions.
12th century during the Song Dynasty, a Buddhist monk named Zhao Zhifeng dedicated 70 years of work on the elaborate sculptures and carvings on Mount Baoding.
1961 opened to Chinese travellers.
1975 site first developed.
1980 opened to foreign visitors.
1999 listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


The Dàzú Shíkè (Dazu Rock Carvings) are 75 protected sites containing some 50,000 statues and over 100,000 Chinese characters forming inscriptions and epigraphs. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

They were created since the 7th century, the early Tang Dynasty, influenced by Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs. But most of the caves were carved during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907-965) which followed the collapse of the Tang Dynasty. Wei Junjing, Prefect of Changzhou, pioneered the carvings on Mount Beishan. Many more were created by gentry, monks, nuns, and ordinary people alike. The second phase of their construction was during the 12th century, in the Song Dynasty. A Buddhist monk named Zhao Zhifeng created elaborate sculptures and carvings on Mount Baoding. He worked for 70 years on the sculptures, most of his life.

The sites are located along the steep hillsides throughout Dazu County. The carvings are distributed over a huge area, some 100 km², and there are even carvings in Sichuan to the north. But the main centers of rock cut grottoes are Mount Baoding and Mount Beishan.

The carvings were off limits after the Cultural Revolution. But they were very isolated, so they remained unharmed during the massive anti-religious vandalism of this time. In 1961 the place was opened to Chinese travelers, but there was only a muddy path from Dazu to the carvings. In 1975 the place was developed for the increasing number of visitors. And finally in 1980 it was opened to foreign tourists. Today it is well visited, well developed, and a big source of income for the whole area.