Dunhuang has boasted a railway station since 2006, but the trip from Beijing or Shanghai is arduous and requires a train change at Lanzhou or Jiayuguan. Plane travel is generally the preferred mode of transport. Welcome to China,
The discovery of the hidden ‘sutra cave’ was a tremendous and startling event for both Chinese and foreign scholars around the world. It attracted extreme attention and as a result was quickly plundered by scholars from England, France, America, Russia, and Japan. In 1943 a Dunhuang Arts Academy was established which began to restore the cave and protect and research its remaining contents.
The legend is that in 366 AD, a monk named Le Zun looked across the river at dawn and saw a thousand Buddhas appear on the golden cliff face of Mingsha mountain along the old Silk Road. The caves were then built by monks and mostly sponsored by patrons such as wealthy merchants, foreign dignitaries, as well as Chinese emperors.
For a long period, many of the Mogao Caves were sealed and forgotten. And, few people beyond the locals knew of the existence of the accessible caves.