Dunhuang (once known as Shazhou) is at the western end of the Hexi Corridor. Dunhuang is home to many spectacular tourist attractions, and is listed as a state historic and cultural city.
The Mogao Grottoes, also known as the “Thousand-BuddhaCaves,” are the oldest of China's three monumental Buddhist grottoes. Located 25 kilometres southeast of DunhuangCounty, these caves are carved out of the sandstone cliffs of MingshaMountain. According to a Tang-dynasty historical text,
the monuments were started by a monk named Le Zun and date
back to 366 AD. Over the next 1,000 years, artists continued to
contribute to the site, creating a thousand more statues in about
1,000 caves over the course of thousands of years, most of
which remain on site today. Today, 492 cave remain intact,
featuring a cultural treasure house of 2,000 statues and over
45,000 separate murals.
Crescent Moon Spring
The spring lies at the foot of the Mingsha Sand Dune and is
named for its shape. It is about 100 metres long and 25 metres
wide, and has fish and water weeds with legendary healing
properties. Though the area is often hit by windstorms that
impede visibility, nobody in hundreds of years of civilization
has ever seen the spring covered by sand.
Mingsha Sand Dune
The Mingsha (Sighing) Sand Dune is another piece of
spectacular scenery in Dunhuang. The dune, a high hill covered
in multi-coloured sand, 40 kilometres long and 20 kilometres
wide. On some days the sand roars like thunder, and is audible
from the city, hence the name. China travellers climbing up to
the dunes and sliding down from the summit can cause the sand
to collapse with them producing loud sounds. Nobody knows
exactly how this wonder of nature was formed. Legends claim
that a dragon prince, angry at being awakened by celebrating
people, covered a whole city in sand. This story claims that the
sounds of the dune are from the souls of the dead, trapped
beneath the sand.