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Sichuan Travel Itinerary

Leshan Giant Buddha

The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, at the confluence of three rivers, namely, Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. It is carved into the cliffs of Mt. Lingyun. A local saying describes the Buddha like this: "The Mountain unveils a Buddha, while the Buddha fades into the mountain."

Something needs to know
The huge figure takes the shape of a Maitreya Buddha, a disciple of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. The figure occupies the entire hillside. Its head reaches the top of the cliffs, his hands rest on his knees and his face has a serene expression as it gazes at Leshan city across the river which rushes past its feet.

How giant

Looking solemn and stately, the Buddha is 71 meters high. His shoulders are 28 meters wide, head 14.7 meters long and 10 meters broad, with a total of 1,021 chignons of hair clustered on it. Each chignon is as big as a round table. Its drooping ear is 6.2 meters long and each eye is 3.3 meters wide. Its middle finger is 8.3 meters long, and each of its bare feet is 11 meters long and 8.5 meters wide, large enough for more than 100 people to sit on.

As a colossal statue the Buddha is so awe-inspiring that every pious Buddhist feels compelled to fall to his knees and to pray for blessings and safety in life.

Construction of the Buddha

Construction on the Giant Buddha began in 713. It was the idea of a Chinese monk named Haitong, who hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels traveling down the river.

When funding for the project was threatened, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. The massive construction project was finally completed by his disciples 90 years later.

The construction resulted in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river below that the currents were altered by the statue, making the waters safe for passing ships as the monk had hoped. There are still some rough currents where the three rivers meet - but none that threaten the tourist ferries. 

The architectural artistry
The charm of the Buddha lies not only in its size but also in its architectural artistry. There are 1,021 buns in the Buddha's coiled hair. These have been skillfully embedded in the head. The skill is so wonderful that the 1,021 buns seem integral to the whole.

Another architectural highlight is the drainage system. This system is made up of some hidden gutters and channels, scattered on the head and arms, behind the ears and in the clothes. This system, which helps displace rainwater and keep the inner part dry, plays an important part in the protection of the Buddha. The large pair of ears, each seven meters (about 23 feet) long, is made of wood and is decorated by mud on the surface. For craftsmen of thousands of years ago, it was not easy to fix these to the stone head.

When to visit
Opening Hours: 9:00a.m. - 4:50p.m.

Getting there
By bus
It is 162 kilometers (about 100 miles) from Chengdu City to Leshan City if one travels by the expressway. Emei City and Leshan City, with a distance of 31kilometers (about 19 miles) are connected by a freeway, and there is a regular bus every ten minutes. Besides, there are buses to Chongqing City, Neijiang City, Zigong City, Yibin City and Ya'an City from Leshan City. Buses to nearby counties are also available.

By train
To get to Leshan by train, get off at Emei station. This station is 10 kilometers (about six miles) away from the gate of Mt. Emei, and 31 kilometers (about 19 miles) away from Leshan City.

By water
There are very many ferries to the site of Leshan Giant Buddha every day. Ferries to Yibin City, Luzhou City and Chongqing City are available at Leshan Port.

By air
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) is 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) away from Leshan City by freeway. Many train and air ticket offices are set up in the city

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