Anhui Province, China

It was a 20 hour train from Beijing to Huang Shan town in Anhui Province. Too bad there were no sleepers available, so I had to sit from 11:00AM until 8:00AM the next day.

Hua Shan Mysterious Grottoes

I first read about this strange place on the web six years ago. So maybe this is the first place I wanted to visit in China, but it took me until now get here. There is a small mountain with a number of hand cut caves and they are not mentioned in any historical record. I was able to walk inside two. Grotto No. 2 has had 60,000 cubic meters of stone removed and Grotto No. 35 had 100,000 cubic meters of stone removed. There is no clue to where this stone was taken, other than a river near the caves.

No. 35 is the most interesting, I think. The entrance is near the top of the mountain and then as you walk inside the floor gets lower and lower. Why not just cut in the side of the mountain and make the floor level? Also it is so clean inside. There is no graffiti, no black marks on the top of the cave from fire. After visiting, it does seem like it was all hand carved.

I wanted to find out if this was just a modern quarry or something. Later I talked to a local person and he said he came here when he was a kid but the caves were full of mud.  Some researchers suggest the caves were dug out in the Warring States Period (476BC – 221BC). They are the largest ancient artificial caves in China and maybe one of the largest in the world. (photos)

Mt. Jiuhua

One last mountain. I ended up going with a tour group because I wasn’t sure about the places to stay there and there were not many convenient buses. Unfortunately, the tour didn’t go to all the way to peak of the mountain. It was still ok. There were a lot of interesting temples in the middle of the mountain. Also interesting to note I saw a 99m statue of Ksitigarbha bodhisattva at the base of the mountain under construction. I was the only western person I saw there. (photo)