Located 80 southwest of Lanzhou, the Bingling Temple Grottoes carved into the cliffs of a 60m high gorge is one of the more unusual sights in Gansu Province. Isolated by the waters of the Liujiaxia Reservior on the Yellow River, the grottoes were spared the vandalism of the Cultural Revolution.
The grottoes are also called Thousand Buddha Caves, although in fact the total number of caves is only 183 niches (34 grottoes, and 149 niches). The setting is spectacular, with soaring cliffs composed of eroded and porous rock with numerous natural cavities. The creators of these grottoes dangled from ropes while carving their masterpieces info the face of the cliffs.
The highest figure is 27 meters, while the smallest being more than 20 centimeters only. Also there are one stone square pagoda, and four clay pagodas. Two-thirds of the grottoes and niches were carved during the Tang Dynasty. The rest were carved in Western Qin, Northern Wei, Nothern Zhou, Sui, Ming and Qing dynasties. Its centuries-old stone carving art is considered a gem of history and culture in China.
During the construction of Liujiaxia Reservoir in 1967, a 200-meter-long and 20-meter-high dam was built in front of the temple. Since then, the temple can be only reached by boat.