Treasured Summit Hill

Archaeological Site in Dazu Buddhist Caves

If you only have time for one Dazu stop, make it this, the largest and most impressive of the sites. Of all the stunning sculptures here, which are believed to have been carved between 1174 and 1252, the centrepiece is a 31m-long, 5m-high reclining Buddha depicted entering nirvana, with the torso sunk into the cliff face. Next to the Buddha, protected by a temple, is a mesmerising gold Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy).

Treasured Summit Hill differs from other cave sites in that it incorporates some of the area’s natural features – a sculpture next to the reclining Buddha, for example, makes use of an underground spring.

The site is about 15km northeast of Dazu town and is accessed by buses from town. Dazu has two bus stations: old and new. Buses from Chongqing drop you at Dazu’s old bus station (老站, lǎozhàn). Buses from Chengdu drop you at Dazu’s new bus station (新站, xīnzhàn). Bus 205 (¥3, 30 minutes) runs direct from both stations.

Once at the site, it’s a shadeless 25-minute walk from where the bus drops you off to the entrance to the sculptures (electric carts do less than half of the walk for ¥10). Buses returning from Treasured Summit Hill run until 6.30pm.