Caught the bus/coach to Leshan (44 yuans each) - home of the 71m Buddha. Upon arrival at Leshan Town you have to catch a local bus #13 (only 1 yuan) to Big Buddha. We decided to have lunch prior to visiting the Buddha as it took approx three hours to get there - not a great choice around this area to eat and it's a bit of a lucky dip as most restaurants didn't have English menus - find one with pictures!!
Entry was quite expensive 90 yuan per person - much cheaper for the locals!! You have to climb up the mountain to the top - amazing views along the way and then you reach the head of the Giant Buddha with snails coiled on his head - all carved out of rock by the monks - very spiritual place.
Take the time to stop along the way to take endless photos and to view this magnificent buddha - he truly is amazing. The locals are all in a rush but they didn't pay what you paid to see him either!!! So why not relax and enjoy him.
After exploring the top of the mountain and viewing the head of the buddha you make your way down a huge amount of stairs - hold on to the handrail as people seem to be in a hurry to get to the bottom - don't know why when there's so much to stare in wonder at.....
At the base of the buddha it's said that an entire family (probably a Chinese family of 3!!!) can enjoy a picnic on his big toe nail.... that's how big he is - the photos don't really justify his size.
The Leshan Giant Buddha is the the largest carved stone Buddha in the world and at the time it was built was also the tallest statue in the world. The statue was started in 713 and was carved out of the cliff face where the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers meet near Leshan, Sichuan.
The statue was created in order to calm the treacherous river waters that destroyed many boats. It took 90 years to complete due to a lack of funding in the process. There was so much stone removed and dumped into the river that the desired result was achieved - the currents were altered in the shallower water.
The Leshan Giant Buddha is part of the Mount Emei Scenic Area which was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1996. Fortunately the statue was not damaged in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
The Buddha may be viewed at close hand by walking down a narrow stairway built into the cliff face. The path passes many grottoes with smaller carvings in them on the way down. If you are not good at heights or crowds make your mind up quickly because once started on the stairs there is no turning back as a multitude of tourists pushes you along. The upward stairs are not as steep a climb as you might think.
The alternative viewpoint is from the river by cruise boat.
I liked the stairs!
Leshan is located about 120km south of Chengdu and is easily reached by bus, which takes about 2 hours. Leshan is famous for one thing - the world's largest Buddha. Known as Dafo, he sits at the confluence of three rivers, namely, Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. His measurements are staggering. He is 71 meters (about 233 feet) high, and has three-meter-long (about 11 feet) fingers. The eight-meter-long (about 27 feet) instep is big enough for one hundred people to sit on and the 28-meter-wide (about 92 feet) shoulder is large enough to be a basketball playground. His large pair of ears, each seven meters (about 23 feet) long, are made of wood and are decorated by mud on the surface. His nose measures 5.6 meters (18 feet). The Giant Buddha is located within a scenic area which includes temples, pavilions, pagodas, caves and gardens with trails running all over the park. All of this makes Leshan a must-see-thing-to-do when in Chengdu and a great day out. Please check out my Leshan page below.
The other reason we went to Chengdu was to see the Great Buddha in Leshan. This was a relatively easy thing to do by ourselves. We caught a bus (see transport tip)and was able to meander our way through to eventually see the Buddha. The complex itself has a number of other interesting sights but because we had limited time our main focus was seeing the Buddha. The path itself to the Buddha is quite circuitious and does involve climbing a number of steep steps and winding your way through other "significant" places of interest. Signage is a bit confusing and geared towards mainly the Chinese tourist. I would recommend if you have time to have a look at Wuyou Temple. (see other things to do). Make sure if you arranged for a bus/taxi pickup that you go back to the original point of entry, (see warning).
Entry Cost 70 Yuan.
In Leshan, at the Giant Buddha, Anne and I visited the monastery where all of the workers, who carved the Buddha, actually lived. At present there are only 10 to 15 monks that still live here and they rely on fundraising to keep the monastery “alive.”
To help them along, we purchased two roof tiles at 10 YUAN each and we painted the names of our two grandchildren on their very own tile. Wilhelmina and her brother, Theodore, are now remembered in a permanent way in the Hills of China, protected by the Monks!
It can be quite warm in this lush area of the Sichuan Province and I suggest you take plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat and a day pack with you. The stairs can not only be quite arduous, the crowds can back up and you can be left standing on the stairs for up to 30 minutes before you reach the bottom.
After you enjoy the scenery at the bottom, and take numerous photographs, you start to realize that you have to climb the stairs back to the top….now that is another story.
The carving began in the year 713 by a Buddhist monk, Haitong, and the Buddha was completed after 90 years of hard work. The work was interrupted when a corrupt official wanted bribes for the funds and work to continue. As a protest the monk removed his own eyes and presented them to the official!
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