Provincial cultural relics officials in Zhengzhou has reported the discovery of several new caves and niches under a highway in the renowned Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang City of central China's Henan Province.
The provincial cultural relics protection administration said that the new caves and niches were discovered by workers rebuilding a highway running across the grottoes area. The Luoyang city government had begun work on the highway in mid-April of this year.
The caves and niches, which contain more than ten beautiful Buddha figures, are believed to have been built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The highway, formerly a major link between Luoyang City, Ruyang and Ruzhou in south Henan, will be closed until renovation work is completed in order to protect the grottoes from auto emissions.
Longmen is one of the three largest Buddhist grottoes in China and was added to the World Heritage list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on November 30, 2000.
Construction of the Longmen caves began around 493, when the Xiaowen Emperor of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) moved its capital to Luoyang City.
It took 400 years to construct the caves, where visitors can view almost 2,300 niches, more than 70 pagodas, over 2,800 inscribed stones and 110,000 statues.
(Xinhua News Agency May 12, 2003)