Linxia is located in southwestern Gansu. It borders the Dingxi area along the Taohe River on the east, Qinghai Province on the Jishi Mountains on the west, Gannan on the Taizi and Zisong Mountains on the south, and Lanzhou along the Huangshui River on the north. It covers an area of 8,169 square kilometers with a population of 1.69 million. The prefecture is home to 22 ethnic groups, the most populous being the Hui people. Ethnic groups unique to the place are the Dongxiangs and Bao'ans.
Averaging 2,000 meters in elevation, its average annual temperature is 6-7C and its average annual rainfall is 500 millimeters.
Linxia is rich in history and culture. It was an important stop on the Silk Road during and Hari and Tang dynasties. It abounds in remains of the Majiayao Culture dating back to the later period of the Neolithic Age. Tourist attractions in the area include the mammoth Liujiaxia Reservoir on the Yellow River, the Binglingsi Grottoes, the Hongyuan Garden, the Nanguan Mosque, Mount Lianhua, and the Songming Cliff. With a decidedly Moslem'' character, Linxia offers Moslem customs tours around the area.
The Binglingsi Grottoes
The grottoes are located in the Lesser Jishi Mountains 35 kilometers southwest of the county seat of Yongjing in Linxia Prefecture. Travel 54 kilometers westward from the Liujiaxia hydroelectric dam by boat and you will reach there.
Bingling in Tibetan means a hundred thousand Buddhas or a thousand Buddhas. The grottoes are carved into the reddish sandstone cliffs of a high gorge. Built during the Western Qin Dynasty (385-431), they were extended by the following dynasties. The grottoes are concentrated at Shangsi, Donggou, and Xiasi on the cliffs. The grottoes at Shangsi were destroyed by fire and a cave hall has been built there to house a few Buddhist statues that have survived the fire. The total number of caves in Binglingsi is 183, 34 at Donggou and 149 at Xiasi. They contain 694 stone statues, 82 clay statues, five stone and clay pagodas, and 900 square meters of wall paintings. They rank among the three best groups of grottoes in Gansu and among the top ten treasure houses of cave art in China.
The Nanguan Mosque in Linxia
Situated on Jiefang Road in the city of Linxia and with the Hongshui River running past in the north, the mosque is the center of religious activities for Moslems in Linxia. It was built in the last years of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). However, it was destroyed and rebuilt many times in the following centuries. The present mosque was rebuilt in 1979. It faces east and covers an area of 2,189 square meters. The roofs are supported by 30 huge columns. The screen wall facing the gate is decorated with cement bass-relieves. On the roof of the front part of the mosque stand three thin towers with green tops. They are 22 meters high. The one in the middle is a minaret inscribed with sayings in Arabic from he Koran. The other two are Wangyuelou Towers for Observing the Moon). Their tops are Decorated with a treasure bottle and a moon. On he north side of the mosque is a three-storied structure built of wood and bricks. It is a place for imams and students of Islamic classics to read and work. Built in the combination of Chinese and Arabic styles, it is product of cultural flow between China and the outside world.
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