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Ancient Meditation Cave Discovered in North China
A mysterious and previously inaccessible cave in Fengning Manchu Autonomous County, in north China's Hebei Province, is now thought to be an ancient place of meditation for Buddhist monks.

The cave is located on Mount Lama, 30 kilometers northwest of the county proper of Fengning. According to historical records, for more than 500 years, local people could see only section of iron chain attached to a piece of wood at the entrance of the cave.

A steep slope, more than 40 meters high, below the mouth of the cave prevented people seeing the inside.

To find out what was inside, authorities of Fengning built a 330-meter-long plank path with iron railings, and dug 517 steps in the stone.

Archaeologists found that the cave is oval, more than 20 meters deep and 3.5 meters wide. Inside, they found a natural "living room", and blue bricks, tiles and pillars widely used in building houses in ancient times.

Archaeologists also discovered traces of the ridge of a house on the stone wall and a kang, a heatable brick bed, on which lamas sit and meditate.

However, archaeologists still wonder how the cave was formed and why lamas chose to live there.

What is more mysterious is that a clear pool was discovered under the kang, but archaeologists could find no trace of a spring in the stone floor. The water level remains unchanged whenever water is taken out of the pool. The water is sweet and contains many mineral elements.

Fengning has developed the zone into a tourist attraction.

(Xinhua News Agency July 1, 2002)

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