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