The Mati Si (Horse's Hoof Temple) and grottoes of Mati Si Scenic Area, Gansu province, China
© Ana Flašker/Alam
A cliff-hanging complex of temples
Feast your eyes on the colourful Mati Si (Horse's Hoof Temple) and its cliffside complex of sandstone grottoes and wooden pavilions. To understand the mythical origin of the Horse's Hoof Temple, you have to squint your eyes a bit. Then you might be able to see the hoof marks left by a frightened longma, the fabled winged dragon horse that purportedly landed here thousands of years ago. What you can't see is the claustrophobic network of tunnels connecting the seven floors and seven grottoes to the Mati Si pagoda, which itself is 60 metres high and holds hundreds of Buddha statues.
Mati Si lies within the grasslands of China's Gansu province along the Hexi Corridor of what was once China's Northern Silk Road. There's no bus service to the temple so you'll have to grab a taxi or, like the mythical dragon horse that left its imprint here, hoof it.