LANZHOU, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Work has begun to fortify centuries-old Buddhist grottoes, which house an extraordinary giant blue-moustache Buddha statue, in northwest China.
The Daxiang Mountain Grottoes are perched on a mountain slope in the county of Gangu, Gansu Province. The local government said Monday the overhaul is estimated to cost around 10 million yuan (1.46 million U.S. dollars) and will be completed in 2018.
Cracks in the caves will be fixed and hill slopes be reinforced.
The grottoes are best known for a 23-meter-tall Buddha statute in one of the caves. The Buddha has a thick curved moustache painted in blue, a rare feature on Buddha images in China. It is believed to have been carved in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).
The grottoes were one of many Buddhist sanctuaries along the ancient Silk Road. Present-day Gansu is home to some of the most spectacular, including Mogao Grottoes and Maiji Mountain Grottoes.
These sites were spiritual oasis for traders and monks trekking across the desert and had unique traits showing the interaction between different art and belief systems.