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World's Coolest Caves

Caves of the Thousand Buddhas (Mogao Grottos)

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Caves of the Thousand Buddhas (Mogao Grottoes): China

The largest trove of Chinese Buddhist art isn’t in Beijing or Shanghai. It’s buried within 492 caves dug by wandering monks along a desert cliff face on an isolated stretch of the ancient Silk Road near Dunhuang. The monks decorated these cave temples with 2,000-plus multicolored sculptures and intricate paintings that could cover more than 11 acres.

Why It’s Cool: Paintings from the fourth to the 14th centuries give insights into evolving patterns of daily life more than 1,000 years ago—and beat your average museum visit any day.

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