Dazu, located in the west suburb of Chongqing City, is famous worldwide as the Home of Rock Carving. It is a wonderful land. Dazu Rock Carvings is 160 kilometers to the west of Chongqing. Over 60,000 carved stone figures relating mainly to Buddhism are spread around 76 places in Dazu. The content and craftsmanship of Rock Carvings at Beishan Hill and Baodingshan Hill are the best. The art of Dazu, which emerged in the late Tang Dynasty (618- 907) and flourished in the Song Dynasty (960-1127), represents an important chapter in China cultural and religious history.
Cliff-side stone carving on Baodingshan hill, 15 kilometers northeast of the seat of Dazu County, were first constructed in the Southern Song Dynasty (1179). With Dafowan as the center, there are stone statuses in the surrounding areas. Those in Dafowan are the largest and best preserved, with the highest artistic value. The other famous stone carving on Beishan hill, 1.5 kilometers north of Dazu, were carved from the late Tang Dynasty to the Southern Song Dynasty (892-1162). There are nearly 10,000 fine carved images.
The Dazu rock carvings has made a significant contribution to artistic expression in China, taking into account a new realism and exaggeration in depicting the contrasts between good and evil, beauty and ugliness. In their contents the carved scenes reflect the moral and rationalistic call for the punishment of evildoers, while encouraging people to do good, to control their desires, and the regulate their behavior. Their layouts demonstrate an ingenious integration of art, religion, science and nature. Aesthetically they are mysterious, natural, elegant, and fully reflecting traditional Chinese culture, which emphasizes learning from the past.
The carvings were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999, citing “…their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.”
Main Rock Carvings to See in Dazu
Dazu Rock Carvings is the general name of the 102 cliffside sculptures and rock carvings in Dazu County. The most famous Rock Carvings in Dazu include Baodingshan Rock Carvings, Beishan Rock Carvings, Nanshan Rock Carvings, Shimenshan Rock Carvings, Shizhuanshan Rock Carvings, etc.
【Baodingshan Rock Carving】
Baodingshan Mountain is located 15 km away from northeast of Dazu County, Chongqing. The Baodingshan Rock Carving was carved during 1174 – 1252, designed and organized by Zhao Zhifeng, a famous monk. The construction lasted over 70 years. It is a large Buddhist tantric dojo and also the essence of Dazu Rock Carving. Shengshou Temple is grand and majestic. It was originally built by Zhao Zhifeng in South Song Dynasty. Later it was burnt by Yuan and Ming armies. During Ming and Qing Dynasty, it was renovated and now the Shanmen, Hall of Heavenly Kings, Sakra Hall, Mahavira Hall, Buddhas of Three Periods, Rangdeng Hall and Vimalakirti Hall are rebuilt in Qing Dynasty. Baodingshan Rock Carving is rare large gorges of Esoteric Buddhism. Dafo Bay is the outside the dojo for preaching Buddhism to the majority of secular beings. The Xiaofo Bay is the cortile for believers to cultivate themselves according to Buddhism. Baodingshan’s rock carving is unique with special pattern. Among the thousands statues of Dafo Bay, the themes of the statues are never repeat. Each cave has connection in religious doctrine, as well as patterns, and forming a whole. The statues start with Liuquweixin, and end with Buddha Liu’s Statue. The rock carving also tells philosophy of Buddhism, showing the Buddhism characteristics of Song Dynasty.
【Beishan Rock Carving】
Beishan Rock Carving is located 2 km away from north Dazu County, Chongqing. It started carving in 892 during Tang Dynasty and then from the Five Dynasties to South Song Dynasty. The whole project last for 250 years and there was carved over 10,000 Buddhas’ statues at Fowan, Yinpang Slope, Guanyin Slope, Beita Temple, Foer and other places. The most concentrated statues is in Fowan, which has 290 grottoes. At the 300 meters long, 7 meters high cliff, there are 6 upright stone tablets, 55 prefaces and statue inscriptions, 8 Jingchuangs, 1 intaglio and 264 grottoes.
【Nanshan Rock Carving】
Nanshan Rock Carving is located 2 km away from Dazu County, Chongqing. The Nanshan Mountain (South Mountain) had been reputed as one of the ten scenes of Dazu since ancient time. Now, the Jade Emperor Temple is still preserved well on the top of the mountain. Nanshan Rock Carving has 15 grottoes, mainly themed by Taoist statues with fine workmanship. It is the most concentrated and largest amount of Taoist stone carving existing in China, and also the most complete carving group showing system of immortal of Taoist.
How to Get to Dazu Rock Carvings
From Chongqing downtown to Dazu Rock Carving is very convenient. There are mainly two ways for you to get to Dazu, such as by bus and by taxi.
If tourists who flying to Chongqing, in the Jiangbei airport there is a long distance bus, the bus directly go to the Dazu county, just only two shifts every day in the 12:30 and 17:30 respectively. The fare is 58 yuan. When buying tickets for Dazu grottoes you have better make it clearly because there is a place called Dazhu (similar pronunciation in Chinese) in Sichuan. This kind of coach will stop at several places: Youting, Shuangqiao and Longshui and finally to the Dazu county. Also it will stop on the road if passengers are flagging in the street. Generally goes well, two and a half hours can reach terminal–Dazu county old bus station.
►From bus station
In Caiyuanba and Chenjiaping long-distance bus station there are buses going to Dazu county, basically half an hour for a bus. RMB 53 (buying from Caiyuanba station), going from Chenjiaping, the fare is about 52 Yuan. Same vehicle condition, both will take passengers who hail in the street, also stop a few stand, at the end of the terminal is old bus station.
Get off at the terminal, take No.101 for RMB 1, get off from Jishiqiao, you can see a few tiny bus park aside the road, including the bus which goes to Baoding town, ticket fare is 3 Yuan. Here is the terminal, many conductor stood on the road, which is very obvious. But the bus will depart until seats are almost full, as not many passengers in the bus, the bus wait for a while in order to hold more passages. Agricultural bank near the station, there was a pretty big supermarket; travelers can buy some food and drinks here, and things in Baota town are more expensive.
If you don’t want to take bus you can also take taxi in the Dazu county. Not to hail a taxi around the old bus station, because the drivers may overcharge from customers. Normally taking taxi to Baoding town from Dazu county is 30 Yuan. If you are a solo traveler, we suggest you to take bus which is more cost-effective