Leshan Giant Buddha

With so much do to and see in China we had to make some choices.  We knew we wanted to explore Leshan which has Mount Emei and Giant Buddha Scenic Areas listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  However we could not do both.  We opted to visit the Giant Buddha instead of a three day trek and 3,000 meter climb up Mount Emei.  Mount Emei is the site of the first Buddhist temple built in China as it is through here that Buddhism was brought to China in the first century.

Leshan Giant Buddha

The Leshan Giant Buddha (Its Origin story here) was built in the eight century at the confluence of three rivers (The Minjiang, The Dadu, and the Xinkai) carved into Lingyun Mountain.  At 71 meters it is the largest carved Buddha in the world!  Aside from the Buddha itself, there were several other notable attractions: Lingyun Temple, Piyu Temple, the house of ancient Chinese Writers, and caves that served as tombs.

Lingyun Mountain the 1000 Buddha Cliff Statues
Not all statues are named. In fact many are formless shadows or imprints of what they once where.  This one however was named: Doushuai Palace: “It is the residence of the Maitreye Buddha.  According to Record of Buddha, Qici, a fat monk of Five Dynasties, often went begging with a big bag.  He spoke wildly and foretold good or bad lucks.  When passing away, he chanted, “Being the genuine Maitreye Buddha, I shall split myself into millions to serve the mortals.” Therefore, people help him to be a reincarnation of Maitreye Buddha.  This statue was build in the Ming Dynasty. It is also called “Big-Belly Arhat”

The Buddha as been restored many times since the 1800s.  When restoring they tested different material brick compositions.

The testing wall showing the testing of brick substance combinations to use for restoration.  Usually hemp, charcoal, cement, lime, and a moderate amount of water.

It is an absolutely massive feat of engineering and carving done by monks who were devoted to a vision.  It seems large from the top, but we only got a sense of how massive it was by climbing down the 250 steps to the bottom and looking up, and then climbing back up again.

250 steps zig-zag to the bottom.  All of them carved into the stone mountain.
At the bottom, you can burn incense and pray.  The Leshan Giant Buddha (Da Fo)
We barely make the height of Da Fo’s sandal.  In comparison, one toe is larger than us

We enjoyed the walk around the mountain top, visiting the points of interest.

We also enjoyed the Lingyun Temple.  Magnificently gilded statues of Buddha and other important figures.  The girls lit some incense to honor their grandmother.

Kylie and Alyssa light incense at Lingyun Temple
Ornate statues decorate the interior of Lingyun Temple
In Lingyun Temple I wondered who this was.  He certainty didn’t look like Buddha.  Why was he being honored?
Big Belly Monk along with other gilded figures…..who were these people?
9 Monks statues on either side.  The best explanation I could get through translation were “Apostles of Buddha”.
Piyu Temple

Hot Pot

It took 2.5 hours with three transfers to get there.  Because of traffic it was almost 4 hours to get back.  We were tired and hungry.  The kids decided on a hot pot meal – a local specialty.  For those who have never done it before, you get a giant pot of some flavored broth, and then cook skewers of different meats and vegetables of your choosing in the broth.  Over time, the broth becomes very tasty.  Often, people cook noodles in the broth and then slurp the broth down with their noodles.  It is not fast food.  It took us nearly 90 minutes to eat.  In the end, we were bloated with broth and yummies.

The split cauldron allowed us to get two different broths and keep one side vegan.  I’m not sure who ate more, but Kylie kept going back for more skewers.

The restaurant offered a show along with the meal.  We left our place at 7AM, and didn’t get back until nearly 9pm.  Another full day!

A great quick performance of mask changing.

How we got there

We took the metro to Xinamen Station. The Xinamen bus station is right at the metro exit. We booked a local coach to Leeshan. Upon arriving at Leeshan, local transit bus 13 stops by in front of the bus terminal. It was 17 stops to the Giant Buddha.

Early Human Civilization Timeline

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