Tianlongshan Grottoes in Taiyuan

Why Visit Tianlongshan Grottoes?

  1. The scenery of Tianlong Mountain is beautiful, surrounded by hills and undulating mountains, pines and cypresses all over the mountains, and the waters of the mountain dragons and caves are flowing, and the mountains and rivers are clear and flowing.
  2. The proficient styles, appropriate ratio, soft lines and elaborate sculpture of the grottos in Tianlongshan Grotto provide us abundant practical materials for the researches of Buddha, arts, sculpture and architecture. They are typical works of the Chinese ancient sculpture, playing an important role in the field of sculpture and art in the world.

Brief Introduction of Tianlongshan Grottoes

Tianlongshan Grottoes is a series of 24 caves carved into the mountainside of Tianlong Mountain and well known among Chinese art experts for the fine Buddhist statues and decorations which were sculpted within. The 24 caves were carved in Eastern Wei, Northern Qi, Sui, and Tang Dynasties. Grottoes 2 and 3 are the oldest in the complex, with a history of nearly 1,500 years. The largest and most impressive grotto is the ninth one, a multi-storied cave with several large Buddha statues and covered by an intricate three-story wooden pavilion, the Manshan Pavilion.

About 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Taiyuan, the Tianlong Shan Grottoes in the Tianlong Mountains constitute a small, but significant, collection of Buddhist cave art. A total of 21 caves dot the eastern and western sides of the mountain, with worn and damaged statues dating from the eastern Wei to the Tang dynasties. The best preserved specimen is the large seated Buddha in cave number 9.

History of Tianlongshan Grottoes

Tianlong Mountain is also called Square Mountain, the altitude is 1,700 meters. The scenery here is beautiful. It used to be the summer palace of the father of Gaoyang Emperor of the Northern Qi Dynasty (420 – 589). Arising mountains stand around Tianlong Mountain; verdant trees grow on Tianlong Mountain. The fountain of the Longwang Grotto runs quietly. In front of the mountain, the water of the bourn flows slowly. Tianlongshan Grotto was first built in the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534—550), Gaohuan constructed grottos in Tianlong Mountain. Gaoyang, the son of Gaohuan, established Jinyang as another capital of the Northern Qi Dynasty (420 – 589). Continually, they built grottos in Tianlong Mountain. In the Sui Dynasty (580-618),Yangguang was Jin emperor, he continued to build grottos. Liyuan and his father started their great exploit in Jinyang. The construction of these grottos reached its peak.

Different Grottos of Tianlongshan Grottoes

The grottos scatters in the mountainside of the east and west peak of Tianlong Mountain. There are 24 grottos which were built respectively during the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534—550), the Northern Qi Dynasty (420 – 589), Sui Dynasty (580-618), and the Tang Dynasty (618 -907). Eight grottos in the east peak, thirteen grottos in the west peak and three grottos in the north of the mountain. The existing grottos have 1,500 statues, 1,144 embossments, alga wells and figures.

The time of the excavation of these grottos differs one from another. The number of the grottos that excavated during the Tang Dynasty (618 -907) are the most, reaching 15. The grottos excavated during the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550) are appropriate and vivid, full of realistic life breath. The sculptures of the Tang Dynasty (618 -907) are even more precise and exquisite. The figures of the Tang Dynasty (619-906) are vivid and beautiful, the style of the knife are proficient and smooth.

Highlights of Tianlongshan Grottoes

The Maitreya Buddha, of the ninth grotto “Manshan Pavilion” is eight meters in height, the ratio of the figure is harmonious, and the countenance of the Buddha is dignified and elegant. The figure of Kwan-yin below is eleven meters high. With glorious jade-like stones and transparent voile, her figure is plump and charming. While the figure of Puxian is smiling and mellow, it is the outstanding works of the stone carvings.

Numerous pine trees and cypresses spread all over Tianlong Mountain. Especially the ancient cypress entwining the mountain, it is another wonder of Tianlong Mountain.


Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province, is an ancient city with a history of over 2,500 years, earning its fame for the long history and rich mineral resources. As one of the famous historical cities in China, Taiyuan is the known for many historical sites, such as the Chongshan Monastery which was built in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 917), Chunyang Palace, in which the layout of the buildings resembles the shape of the Eight Diagrams, and the Twin Pagoda Temple which is the symbol of Taiyuan. Taiyuan is also a city, rich of mineral resources such as coal, iron, copper and limestone, especially for coal mines, making the city known as ‘the sea of coal’.

How to get to Tianlongshan Grottoes

Travel with ChinaDragonTours (top recommended)

If you want to get out of the traffic and hassle of navigation, you can book a private tour package that includes visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local guide and driver will escort you to the Tianlongshan Grottoes in Taiyuan in the fastest and most convenient way and take care of all the details. You just have to focus on the visiting.

Independent Traveler

Take the bus that goes from Taiyuan to Qingxu, or take NO. 8 bus and take off at the Jinci Temple Station. Then, bypass Jinci Temple to Tianlong Mountain, walk straight along the road that around the mountain until you see Tianlongshan Grotto. Now you have to pay for going into the mountain.

Useful Travel Tips

  1. Recommendatory Touring Time
    one day there are many ridges and peaks, numerous pine trees and cypress. Springs and creeks are running happily. The weather here is cool and pleasant. Spring and summer are the best time for traveling around Tianlongshan Grotto.
  2. Try to avoid visiting Tianlongshan Grottoes during Golden Week and summer holidays where the crowds and number of visitors will be substantially higher than usual.
  3. Tel: 0351-6349668
  4. Accommodation
    From the railway station by no. 308 (original no. 8) bus to Jinci Temple, and then take the  tour minibus to Tianlong Mountain, you can go directly to the top of the mountain for a few hours and enjoy the fun, if you still want to continue to feel the morning dew night breeze, can fall Tianlong Mountain Villa.

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Bella Ren/任新月