The Yellow River runs through Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, and the river’s fertile floodplains mean that the area has been inhabited for millenia. There's a lot to look at in the area: natural landforms and scenery as well as human history. On this trip during the New Year holiday we checked out some of the sites around Lanzhou.
On the first day we started off with a tour of the Gansu Provincial Museum, a great way to get an overview of the long history of the area.
On the second day we drove out to the Yellow River Stone Forest, a massive canyon in the cliffs beside the river. Our transportation plan was rather comprehensive: we drove as close as we could, boarded rafts that floated on inflated sheepskins, hiked two hours into the canyon, and then rode out on donkey carts. Wow!
We woke up early on the last day to travel to Bingling Temple, a 1600-year-old site with cliff caves and a stone forest. On the way back we stopped for a hike at the Lanzhou Danxia Landform, very similar to the more famous Zhangye Danxia Landform.
Bronzed horses in an honour guard formation, from the Eastern Han Dynasty period. (25-220 AD)
Glazed pottery horse and figure from the Tang Dynasty. (618-907 AD)
Xiguan Mosque in Lanzhou city.
Yellow River Stone Forest
Getting a shot of our inflated-sheep-skin-floated rafts.
This one looks a little newer – hopefully it won’t sink!
Off we go, on the Yellow River.
The entrance to the Yellow River Stone Forest.
Wind erosion is responsible for some of the shapes in the cliffs.
Hiking further in.
These carts would be our ride out.
We hiked up to the top of the Stone Forest to get these views.
Up at the top.
Another transportation option.
Cliffs by the Yellow River, near the Liujiaxia Hydropower Station.
A 50-minute boat ride took us into Bingling Temple.
Group photo at the entrance of Bingling Temple.
The giant Buddha at Bingling Temple.
This carved Buddha was repaired in 2011.
Another angle. The cave behind the Buddha’s head, in the middle of the photo, was the first cave of the temple.
A niche in the temple.
Statues and murals. Scholars are able to put a rough date on the construction period by the different styles of artwork.