The drive from Chengdu to Leshan Giant Buddha took about 2.5 hours. Leshan Giant Buddha is carved out of a cliff face during the Tang Dynasty and took 90 years to complete, from 713 to 803 AD. The seated Maitreya statue is 71 meter tall and sits on the river banks at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. Maitreya is the future buddha who will appear when the teachings of Guatama Buddha have faded away. It has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and is the largest stone buddha in the world. Leshan Buddha was originally constructed here by the Buddhist monk Hai Tong in hopes of calming the turbulent waters. With the large amount of rock removed from the cliff and thrown into the river in order to build the giant buddha, the currents as a result did become less turbulent allowing safe passage for ships. There are two ways to visit Leshan Giant Buddha, by boat and by foot, and I recommend doing both. The boat takes you to the front of the Giant Buddha and stops for everyone to take photos. After a short stop, it cruises back to the pier. When visiting by boat, one can also see that the mountain range is shaped like a sleeping buddha with Leshan Giant Buddha as its heart. One good thing is that the lines at the boat ride are never very long. There are constantly boats leaving and returning. After our boat ride, we were driven about 20 minutes to the main entrance of Leshan Giant Buddha. You can walk up to the head of the Buddha and then line up to descend to the bottom where the feet of the statue are located. The lines here are super long and could easily take 2-3 hours. We gave up going down after lining up for about 20 minutes and not moving at all. We were told that the smallest toenail of the statue is large enough to accommodate a seated person. However, visitors are no longer allowed to climb onto the toes of the Buddha. Instead, we headed to the viewing area next to the head of the Buddha. Here you can see the Buddha’s face up close and there are 1,021 coils in the Buddha’s hair and an intricate drainage system with hidden gutters and channels to displace rainwater and keep the inner parts of the statue dry. What a feat considering this was built over 1,200 years ago!
Pier for boarding the boats to see Leshan Giant Buddha.
The boats can take about 75 passengers and we had about 50 on our boat.
The zig zag path is for going back up after seeing the Buddha from the feet level.
Single file on the left coming down to the bottom.
Grab a spot on the right side of the boat for better photos.
World’s largest stone buddha at 71 meters tall.
Leshan Giant Buddha flanked by two stone warriors.
The mountain range looks like the profile of a sleeping buddha with the head on the right.
The path leading up to the head of the Giant Buddha
You can see the crowds lining up to descend to the feet of the Giant Buddha. The wait is at least 2-3 hours here.
You can get pretty close to the head of the Buddha and clearly see the 1,021 coils in the Buddha’s hair.
The cave where Hai Tong, the monk who initiated this project, lived during the construction.
Ling Yun Temple behind the head of the Giant Buddha.
Statues of the past, present, and future Buddhas inside Ling Yun Temple.
Kind of random having these balloon shooting galleries along these ancient streets.
Standard issue hairstyle for young boys here and in many other places in China.
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