Most of the rivers in the Gansu province belong to the Yellow River water systems.
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Gansu Province is situated at the joint of the Huangtu (Loess) Plateau, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Mongol Plateau. The provincial terrain varies in elevation, sloping downhill from west to east and from south to north respectively. The Gansu corridor stretches at the province’s northwest part. Most of the rivers in the Province belong to the Yellow River water systems. Its climate features both temperate monsoon and continental, transferring from subtropical zone in south to temperate zone northward of semi-arid and arid area.
Gansu abounds in various produces. It has laid its solid foundation on electric power, nonferrous metallurgy, machine building, and petrochemical. Lanzhou’s petrochemical industry is of a big scale. Jiayuguan is the biggest iron and steel base in the northwestern part of China. Natural resources include petroleum, coal, iron and various kinds of non-ferrous metals. Mount Qilian is reputed as a cornucopia or ‘treasure house’ for its richness in minerals. The Gannan Plateau is an important pastureland with famous species of Aqu horse 阿曲马and Ola goat 欧拉羊. Gansu is well known for its Chinese medicinal herbs such as Chinese angelica 当归.
The Province boasts abundant cultural relics such as the Silk Road, with an expanse of 1,600 kilometers symbolizing the friendly communications between China and Western peoples for generations. Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang, which is a world cultural heritage, Maiji Mountain Grottoes famous for its fine sculptures and the Labrang Lamasery , which is one of the six Great lamaseries of the Yellow Sect of Buddhism in China. The Singing (Soughing ) Dunes (Mount Mingshan) and the Crescent Spring are fanciful for their co-existence
The Silk Road 丝绸之路
The long, winding and well travelled Silk Road 漫长曲折、游客如织的丝绸之路, a major Eurasian trade route, dates back to the second century BC with a history of more than 2,000 years. Its extremely important contribution to civilization has been renowned throughout the world, but the Road itself still remains mysterious today. The Silk Road is closely associated with the Gobi Desert, grasslands, snow-capped mountains, grottoes, and the ruins of ancient cities, etc. Passed from lip to lip on the Silk Road were miraculous legends and romance, which told the rises and falls of successive dynasties in China.
For over 2,000 years, historians and archaeologists both at home and abroad have been on scene to unveil the mysteries of the Silk Road, a traffic passage, which started in Xi’an, the capital of Northwest China’s Shanxi Province and ran westward for about 7,000 kilometers, through the Western regions and provinces of China, on into several Central Asian countries before stretching down to Rome in the Mediterranean. The Silk Road runs through many time-honoured cultures and civilizations in China, Asia Minor, India and the Persian Gulf, Greece and Italy. But it has left so many interesting subjects only a little light on a certain episode of its history. The early Chinese civilization already reached a very high standard more than 2,000 years ago. Chang’an (former name for Xi’an ) in their journeys through the (Gansu) Hexi Corridor (also known as the Silk Road Corridor), accounting for one-sixth of the total length of the Silk Road, along the rim of Taklamakan—the second largest desert of the world 沿着世界第二大沙漠塔克拉玛干沙漠的边缘 and across the Congling (Onion) Mountains in Western Xinjiang till they reached Western countries于新疆西部穿过葱岭到达西方各国. The trade caravans were loaded mainly with silks and satins—valuables invented and manufactured in China, as high officials and nobles of the West took pride in putting on gorgeous Chinese silken robes. The silks so captured the fancy of people that this Road came to be known as the famous Silk Road in the entire world.
The Silk Road was by no means a scene of desolation. The camels’ bells kept tinkling in the wild as one caravan after another traveled along the passage, which was lined with towns, checkpoints and courier stations. The merchants and traders also carried chinaware, lacquerware, tea, gold vessels, silverware and other special products to the West. Introduced to the West through the same passage were the Chinese technologies of papermaking, printing, smelting, sericulture, gunpowder making, water conservancy and irrigation. China’s remarkable cultural achievements like medicine, astronomy, music and fine arts also made their way to the West, giving a powerful impetus to the economic and cultural progress there. Exchange of this kind was always a two-way thoroughfare. Through the Silk Road, Western countries also sent to China their fine glass, medicine, perfumes, spices, ivories, rhinoceros, horns, leather, hides, and strains of watermelon and grape as well as music, dance and religious arts, which helped enhance China’s economic and cultural growth. The Western religious culture, in particular, exerted an immense impact on the religious beliefs and social life of the Chinese people.
It is extremely true that the mysterious Silk Road provided a broad avenue for economic and cultural interaction between East and West in ancient times, which helped promote progress and friendship between the Chinese people and the peoples in the West. The Silk Road has become insignificant in terms of trade between East and West, but it is experiencing a new lease of life as a traveling route for both Chinese and overseas tourists, who wish to explore the mysteries of the fabled Silk Road, gain a better understanding of ancient history and See more of the world.
When tourists stand in the midst of Gobi sand and take a look into the distant snow-capped mountains against the magnificent backdrop of a blue sky and tufts of white cloud, they almost immediately feel broadminded and relieved of all earthly worries.
When tourists step into the Grottoes at Dunhuang inscribed on the List of World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987 (commonly known as “Thousand-Buddha Caves”), the Maiji (Wheat-Pile) Mountain and the Bingling (Thousand Buddhas or Hundred Thousand Buddhas in Tibetan 炳灵是藏语“千佛”或“十万佛”之意) Cave Temple in Gansu Province, they will find the bright-coloured and vivid-looking murals and sculptures by ancient masters of art simply dazzling. They cannot help feeling excited for being able to enjoy these ancient gems of art with their own eyes.
When visitors find themselves on the ruins of the ancient city of Jiaohe or Gaochang and perceive the inexorability of history, they cannot help having a sigh with emotion: the passage of time has gone to the length of reducing the flourishing ancient city to yellow mounds!
When travelers rub shoulders with local residents of the Han and other Chinese ethnic people, become their home—guests, see their art performances or stroll through their bazaars, they will find their pattern of life and customs simple and yet intimate.
The ancient and celebrated Silk Road has stretched thousands of kilometers, resembling a dreamlike boulevard. Being a mirror of ancient history, it is calling to historians and archaeologists: as a mysterious and unique traveling route, it is calling to tourists throughout the world. To know, you must go!
The (Gansu) Hexi Corridor 河西走廊
Driving about 200 kilometers west of Xi’an Shanxi Province, tourists will reach Gansu Province. The Province looks like a panhandle geographically. It covers about 1,600 kilometers of the Silk Road, of which 1,200 kilometers is situated in the (Gansu) Hexi Corridot河西走廊(1,200 kilometers from Lanzhou), the provincial capital in the east to the Yumen (Hade Gate) Pass 玉门关（so named because the jade produced in Hetian 和田 in what is now Xinjiang region was transported to Central China through this pass）, a strategic pass on the ancient Silk Road at the bank of Shule River 疏勒河in the west, the Nrrowest being over 40 kilometers to more than 100 kilometers from north to south, average elevation being 1,000 to 1,500 meters. Located west of the Yellow River, the corridor is a passageway between the Qilian Mountains 祁连山 and the Beishan Mountains北山. It was lined with many towns and is today crammed with as many centers of tourist attractions. The terrains in the Province get higher and higher as tourists go from the central to the west till they reach about 1,500 meters above sea level in Lanzhou. Lanzhou is in the shape of a panhandle, through which the Yellow River flows. People have the false impression that the city is adjacent to the border region of the far Northwest China, but it actually is in the heartland of the country.
After going beyond Lanzhou and the Wushaoling Mountain 乌鞘岭，tourists enter the majestic and impressive Gansu Corridor. The Qilian sea level. In the language of Xiongnu匈奴(Huns, an ancient ethnic tribe in Northwest China ), qilian means sky. As the name implies, the Qilian Mountains are sky-high, with their snow-capped peaks piercing the clouds. A train ride through the broad corridor will provide a fascinating view of the unpopulated Gobi wilderness, which extends to the foot of the mountains, with the desert dotted with towns, hamlets, luxuriant trees and plots of farmland. Perhaps partly because of drought and scanty rainfall, the Province is on the whole to be developed. Fed by molten snow down from the Qilian Mountains, however, the Gansu Province is an exception. Numerous historical sites and countless cultural relics unearthed point to its Great days in history. They are delightful places to visit, and you’ll begin to feel the quiet calm the places possess.
Major p;aces of interest in the Province include: the Iron Bridge at the foot of the White Pagoda Mountain, the White Pagoda and Five-Spring Park 兰州市白塔山下黄河大铁桥，白塔寺，五泉山 Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang and Crescent Spring Pool and Singing Sands Dunes 敦煌月牙泉，鸣沙山，莫高窟， Yulin Grottoes in Anxi County 安西县榆林石窟，the Big Buddha Temple， the Wooden Pagoda and Horse’s Hoof Grottoes in Zhangye City 张掖市大佛寺木塔，马蹄寺石窟，the Bingling Monastery in Yongjing 临夏市永靖县炳灵寺石窟， Lashao Monastery and Cascade （Waterfall）Cave in Wushan County 武山县拉梢寺和水帘洞， the Maiji Mountain Grottoes in Tianshui 天水市麦积山石窟，the Lady Queen Palace Grottoes in Jingchuan 泾川王母宫石窟， the Northern Grotto Monastery in Xifeng City 西峰市北石窟寺， the Labrang Lamasery in Xiahe 夏河县拉卜楞寺，Jiayu Pass 嘉峪关， the Western terminus of the Grest Wall, acclaimed as “Might Pass Number One Under Heaven天下第一关” and Overhanging Great Wall. Arresting in a more dynamic way is the bronze horse together with other 230 cultural relics from an Eastern Han (AD 25-220) tomb discovered at Leitai in Wuwei City, Gansu Province on the route of the Old Silk Road in October 1969. He is poised as if flying, and one of his hooves rests lightly on a swallow with wings outstretched, suggesting in a beautiful and imaginative way the almost divine power, which the Chinese people at this time believed the horse to possess. He is the symbol of Chinese tourism. 1969年10月在甘肃省武威市雷台下发现东汉晚期大型砖室墓一座，出土文物230余件，其中铜制器物170余件，有铸造精致的武装车马出行行列。 马有驾车马，骑马，骏健生动，姿态各异。一足踏着飞鸟，三足腾空，长尾高翅，昂首嘶鸣，风驰电掣，飞奔前进。造型奇特，别具匠心，既富有浪漫主义色彩，又合乎力学平和原理，是古代艺术珍品。它是中国旅游图形标志――－马超龙雀。Grottoes resemble a string of Buddhist beads, forming a grotto corridor on the ancient Silk Road and distributing on 1,600-kilometer-long region.
Grottoes originated in Buddhist architectural art in India, but the Chinese Grottoes formed its own characteristics such as the grotto eaves, Buddhist figure and murals. The Grottoes along this grotto corridor have existed more than 1,000 years. The just and sound evaluation is : Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang are the treasure house of murals; Maijishan Grottoes are the museum of painted sculptures; the Horse’s Hoof Cave in Zhangye is the initial creation of painted sculpture flying Apsaras (as in the frescoes of the Horse’s Hoof Cave in Zhangye). Also there are the ruins of the Great Wall, and the beacon towers dotted here and there signaling military operation in ancient times; there are also multitude of monasteries and tombs and other cultural relics.
Dunhuang and Jiayu Pass, both situated in the (Gansu) Hexi Corridor, are the most frequently visited by explorers on the Silk Road. The Magao Grottoes in Dunhuang 敦煌的莫高窟, which is acclaimed as “a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road 被誉为丝绸之路上的明珠” is the most famous Grottoes in China. The mural paintings there occupy a total space of 45,000 square meters. It is regarded as the greatest treasure house of Buddhist art still standing in the world today. Artists invariably wish to have a chance to visit the grottoes. Jiayu Pass is the Western terminus of the Great Wall. It is known as “THE Mighty Pass No One Under Heaven 天下第一雄关，”Unlike Shanhai Pass in Hebei Province or Juyong Pass in Beijing along the Great Wall, it nestles against the Qilian Mountains and the Gobi Desert and is therefore imposing in its own salient feature. Erected on the Gobi Desert, its gate-tower, tourists find the Great Wall snaking eastward toward the Bohai Bay and climbing westward up the Qilian Mountains like an “Overhanging Great Wall 悬臂长城，”as the section of the wall is now popularly called.
Gansu Province contains so many beautiful sights along the Gansu section of the Silk Road that one short visit is insufficient to include them all. You will want to return.
Bingling Monastery 炳灵寺石窟
Situated in Yongjing County within half a day’s distance from Lanzhou by car, the Bingling Monastery is one of China’s best grotto clusters. The Grottoes are nest only to those in Dunhuang and the Maiji Mountain in magnitude and the value of their historical relics. Among the survivals are 183 grotto niches (34 grottoes, and 149 niches) displaying 679 stone figures and 82 clay figures, in addition to more than 900 square meters of murals. The highest figure is 27 meters, while the smallest being more than 20 centimeters only. Also there are one stone square pagoda, and four clay pagodas. Two-thirds of the Grottoes and niches were carved during the Tang Dynasty. The rest were carved in Western Qin, Northern Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Ming and Qing dynasties. Its centuries-old stone-carving art is considered a gem of history and culture in China.
During the construction of Liujiaxia Reservoir in 1967, a 200-meter-long and 20-meter-high dam was built in front of the Monastery. The monastery can be reached by taking a boat.
Maiji Mountain Grottoes 麦积山石窟
Located near Tianshui, a major city in Eastern Gansu Province, Wheat-Pile Mountain (The Maiji), reputed as the “Oriental Sculpture Museum,” is 142 meters high. The name comes from the fact that the Mountain looks like a stack of wheat. There are altogether 194 grottoes (the Grottoes are divided into east Grottoes and west grottoes) in all, and there are 54 Grottoes in the east, and 140 Grottoes in the west. All of them are cut on cliffs, 80 meters above the ground on the southern side of the mountain. The Grottoes contain more than 7,200 clay or stone sculptures and over 1,300 square meters of murals, both of which are works of the 4th to 19th centuries (Northern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, the Five Dynasties, Song, Yuan, Ming, And Qing dynasties )—making them a perfect example of China’s sculpture through the ages. In addition to clay sculptures, there are more than 2,000 pieces of pottery, bronze ware, ironware, and jade articles, ancient books, documents, paintings, calligraphy and other cultural relics in the 194 grottoes. The highest figure is about 16 meters, and the smallest being only 10 centimeters. Its exquisite clay sculptures are well known not only in China but also abroad. One salient feature of the Grottoes is that the only means of communi8cation between the caves is a plank Road built on the face of a precipice. The gigantic Road project must have taken on-lookers’ breath away.
The Grottoes have applied to the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for admission onto the World Heritage List.
More About The Gansu Province
- Labrang Monastery And Lamasery
Labrang Monastery And Lamasery Apart from a spectacular collection of monastic buildings, the Labrang Monastery is also a treasure house.
- Lanzhou Introduction
Lanzhou Introduction Situated in the middle of the Gansu Province, Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, has a history of more than 2,000 years.
- Mogao Grottoes
Mogao Grottoes The Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang is divided into north and south districts, totaling 735 grottoes in all.
- Singing Dunes
Singing Dunes The Singing Dunes and the Crescent Spring.