PM takes off for spiritual retreat
PM takes off for spiritual retreat
After two days of hectic schedule in Chinese capital, the prime minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, on Wednesday, made a pilgrim retreat to Luoyang, a Buddhist temple town in the western Henan province.
Luoyang, 600 km southwest of Beijing, was one of the most important links on the eastern segments of the Silk Road that took Buddhism from India to its neighbour.
The pilgrim town, which is flanked by China’s two famous rivers — Yellow river from the south and Liu river from the north — this green valley is labelled as the ‘Sunny town.’ The ‘Sunny town’ enjoys a non-frost season for almost 250 days a year.
On arrival in the ancient town of Luoyang, which was home to over a dozen of China’s ruling dynasties, Mr. Narasimha Rao and his entourage was given a rousing welcome. He was received by the governor of the province and the mayor of the city.
After a brief ceremony, the prime minister started his retreat by a visit to world famous Longman’s Caves, which are hidden in verdant hills.
At the White Horse temple, Mr. Rao presented a statue of Buddha to the priest. He said the gift was a ‘humble token of devotion and affection of the Indian people to this hallowed place as a remembrance of the visit of two monks, who brought Buddhism to China.
The four feet tall statue was installed at a place, which had a mural depicting the arrival of two monks. Mr. Rao told the head priest that Chinese Buddhist scholars and monks were welcome to visit India.
As the cavalcade drove up to the hills, huge rock grottos, which form an imposing entrance to the caves greeted the visitors.
The huge images of Buddha have been carved out of rock face. The caves house over 2,100 niche shrines, 89 Buddhist pagodas, 100,000 sculptured figures and 3,600 tablets, which have survived the test of time, since being first excavated in 88 AD.
The largest and most impressive shrine is the Lengxian Caves temple, constructed during the Tang Dynasty (618-917 AD), where the seated image of the Lord Buddha is 17-metre-tall, with a head of four metres and each ear two metres. This serene image is flanked by beautifully carved images of Buddha’s disciples, Bodhisatvas, warriors and heavenly kings, ten to 15-metre-tall.
The prime minister and his party were also treated to a 24-course famous ‘Water Banquet,’ a specialty of the local people. The banquet is so called as soups and dishes are served so rapidly like ‘flowing water’ and noted for its sour and spicy flavour.
After the luncheon ceremony, the prime minister drove to another enchanting and mystifying ‘underground palace’, the last site for tombs chosen by the Han dynasty. The palace has been turned into a museum now.
The entrance to the mysterious underground palace is deceptive, with a facade of an overground modest building, hiding a marvellous underground palace. The underground palace has superb stone carvings and brightly-coloured wall painting and murals.
Strolling through the underground tomb was like, as the Chinese guide told the prime minister and his party, of reading almost a three dimensional ‘Shiji’ — the complete historical records of an era in pictures.
From the palace, Mr. Narasimha Rao was driven to the famous White Horse temple, which is called the ‘Cradle of Buddhism’ in China.
Mr. Rao returned here same evening after spending the day in the 4,000-year-old city. He travelled to the city and back in a special Chinese Airways aircraft.