The Unexplored Historical and Cultural Gems of China

While studying abroad in China, many of you must have visited some of its historical monuments like the Lost City and the Great Wall of China. But the Chinese history spans even further and there are many more magnificent monuments that for all of us to see but we are still oblivious of those cultural and historical gems.

If you ever went to China for the purpose of learning Mandarin, you must have gained a basic understanding of its history, rich in colorful myths and legends. The Terracotta army has been recently made famous by a Hollywood movie. These soldier and horse funerary statues came into being in 210 BC and were only recently discovered by the local farmers near Xi'an in Shanxi province in the year 1974. This rare assortment of sculptures represents the armies of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.

An important stop on the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang is a city, steeped in history. A few kilometers from this city, is a constellation of four hundred and ninety two temples, famously known as the Mogao Caves or Mogao Grottos or the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. These caves are a treasure-trove of the finest of Buddhist art, spanning over a period of a thousand years.

If you have a penchant for off-the-beaten-track villages, then, the quaint village of Hongcun in the Anhui province should be there your China travel itinerary. Located near the southwestern slope of Mount Huangshan, this village is arranged in such a manner that it strikingly resembles an ox and this is the most fascinating aspect of Hongcun. The nearby Leigang Hill, overlooking the village, is perceived as its head, whereas two tall trees that flank the hill are interpreted as its horns. The village is dotted with almost 150 houses, the architecture of which dates back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Leshan Giant Buddha, which is a 71 meters high statue of Buddha carved out of a cliff, is a must-see historical artifact and fascinating piece of art. The foundation stone of this statue was laid in 713 AD and it was supposedly the tallest statue in the world at the time of its inception.

It is not unknown that Shaolin Temple is the world's foremost seat of martial arts. Mount Emei, one of the four sacred mountains of the Buddhists, is inefficiently associated with the temple. History has it that the quintessential Chinese martial arts saw its birth in some of the monasteries, located on this mountain. In fact, historical sources allude to the origin of Chinese boxing in Shaolin Temple, where it was most passionately and indeedly practiced.

Listed as a World Heritage Site, the Dazu Rock Carvings are a series of Chinese religious sculptures and carvings, belonging to the seventh century AD and harmoniously combine Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian elements. The Dazu Rock Carvings comprum innumerable protected sites, harboring almost fifty thousand statues, carved out of the hills that abound in the Dazu County, west of Chongqing Municipality.

The Mandarin history is rich and diverse. Many of the historical gems of China, which have not yet shared the tabloid limelight, will continue to enthrall you and the more you unpeel their mystery, the more you are teased into it.

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