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Dazu Rock Carvings

Chongqing, China

About 165 kms apart from the commercial hub of Chongqing, this site depicts the fundamentals of mainly Buddhism but Confucius and Taoism belief systems as well. It has been given the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its beauty and meaning.

Reaching the site on your own and foregoing the guided tour gives you the chance to really take in the surroundings and contrast of laid back Dazu with the hustle and bustle of Chongqing. If you take the subway to Lianglukou station, you will need to take an elevator to the lower level where the railway and bus stations are. Once you get to Chongqing bus station (aka Caiyuanba) you can catch regular buses to Dazu, which cost around RMB50. Or you could catch a bus from three other bus stations known as Chenjiaping, Longtousi North/ South. In a couple of hours you will be at Dazu County bus station. Here, you can take a taxi to the attraction or watch out for bus 205 (fare RMB3) which has the site en route. Finally at the gate of Dazu Rock Carvings, you will realize there is till a long way to the actual carvings but worry not! There is a swanky new museum that provides a very enriching breather on the half way to the main attraction. There are several carving sites, most prominent ones being Baodingshan and Beishan. It is advisable to check out the former first and then take a bus from the exit that will take you to Beishan. The Dazu County bus station is a half hour walk from that area.

The entrance fee is RMB120 for Baodingshan and Shengshou Temple combined and RMB90 for Beishan. There is, however, a value ticket for RMB170 which allows you access to all three sites and is highly recommended. Audio-guides are available at Baodingshan, though none at Beishan unfortunately. The timings are from 08:00 to 18:00 and touring all three sites should not take over 6 hours, ideal for a day trip.

Once the logistics and admissions are out of the way, you can set yourself to diving in to some authentic Buddhist carvings that date back quite a few centuries. At Baodingshan (translated as Treasured Summit Hill) there are a staggering 10,000 carved figures that tell a story which is fascinating, specially the part about punishments. That bit is really vivid! The eye-popping colors and the well-maintained intricacies of design are something that intrigue on-lookers. The Thousand Hand Kwan-yin is a must-see. There is much to gain about the philosophy of life, even if you are not Buddhist. The Shengshou temple comes on the way to the exit and a look around will sate your curiosity.

At Beishan you are again presented by thousands of fine figure carvings in much more sophisticated postures. But having seen Baodingshan, it is more efficient to concentrate your efforts on grotto no.125 and 136 which encapsulates the heart of the matter and artistic refinement of the Song dynasty.

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