The most dramatic examples of early Buddhist architecture are rock-cut sanctuaries and cave shrines. Some of the oldest Buddhist caves in China are near the town of Datong, a couple of hours away from Beijing, on a Trans-Manchurian railway. Cloud Ridge (Yungang) caves, cut into cliff faces, represent the earliest Buddhist art style, built around 1500 years ago simultaneously with the major phase of Ajanta caves in India and predating most of the Central Asian rock carvings. Another striking example is the Hanging Temple, built on sheer cliffs, dating back to 1400 years ago. Like many monasteries in China, it's not functioning, although I was told there was an old monk still living there.
Hanging Temple
Yungang Buddhist Caves
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