Gansu Gansu is a province located between the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Shaanxi Province in Northwest China. The Gansu Corridor or Hexi Corridor which stretches 1,600 km from eastern Gansu westward through the province was part of the main passageway of the ancient Silk Road. According to historical records, it had been traversed by Zhang Qian, Monk Xuan Zang and Marco Pol in ancient times. Along this Silk Road are such famous historical sites as the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang renowned as the art treasure house of the East, the Jiayuguan Pass-the western end of the Great Wall, the Labrang Monstery and the Majishan Grottoes in Tianshui, etc.
Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui
Known as the east gate of Gansu, Tianshui was a significant post on the eastern section of the Silk Road. It can be reached within seven hours from Xi'an by train. The Maijishan Grottoes, located about 50 km southeast of the city amidst clusters of peaks and hills, are world-famous for the 7,800 stone sculptures and clay figures as well as over 1,000 sq.m of murals from the fourth to 19th centuries preserved in 194 caves.
This monastery, about 280 km south to Lanzhou, was built in 1709. It is one of the six leading lamaseries of the Gelugpa School (the Yellow Sect) in China. As its scale is only next to the Potala Palace in Tibet, it is also known as the 'Lesser Potala Palace'. The monastery which occupies 82 hectares has more than 10,000 rooms capable of accommodating over 3,000 lamas and six academic schools of the different sects of lamaism. Tens of thousands of cultural relics and art treasures are stored in the monastery and over 60,000 volumes of Tibetan scriptures, classics and books have been collected.