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One Giant Buddha

Leshan Travel Blog

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Small, weathered Buddha carving at Leshan near Doushuai Hall

Another early morning bus ride greeted the start of this day.  From Chengdu to Leshan for a visit to the Giant Buddha and then on to Emei for 3 nights on the sacred mountain.  If there is one thing that has quickly become apparent is the vast distances between locations in China.  Long train rides and bus rides are the norm, but the places in between are incredible.

The drive in was uneventful as we arrived shortly before 11:00 AM after a 3 hour journey.  We parked, made our way to the entrance, and picked up a local English speaking guide for a tour of the site.

Info Dump (larger version - http://www.flickr.com/photos/13361280@N00/4408667909/sizes/l/ )
  Most of the info is from her or an English brochure that I picked up on the way in.   While the Giant Buddha is the iconic feature of this UNESCO Heritage Site the area is dotted with other temples, halls, and pavillions on the way up to the Giant Buddha site.  Also among the hills are many ancient carvings that depict various poses of the Buddha in various stages of disrepair.  Even so to see these artifacts gives one a sense of just how old the objects here are.

In fact it is estimated that the Leshan Giant Buddha project was started around 713 and carved over a period of just under 100 years, making him around a grand 1200 years old - not bad for an old guy.  He's looking a bit worn down in places and some of today's pollution isn't helping out but in recent years his stylists have become much more attentive to his long term needs.
Leshan Giant Buddha
  So hopefully he can grace the world for well over another 1000 years.  Leshan Giant Buddha at 71m (around 230 ft) is the largest stone Buddha carving in the world.  The statue is a Maitreya Buddha carved over the confluence of the Minjiang and Dadu rivers peering westwards towards Holy Emei Mountain.

Sidebar - As we walked up to the observation area, I ran into a bit of a problem with my camera.  I had both rechargeable AA batteries and two sets (x4) of Lithium AA batteries for my camera.  I had used a set of Lithiums starting at the high altitudes of Everest BC and these had lasted quite a while before running out of juice a few days before.  I had charged a set two nights ago in Chengdu, but the batteries went dead and all the rest just weren't holding a charge worth a damn.

Half way or so down the stairs get a full on view of the Maitreya Buddha
  Thought it was a problem with the batteries exposure to the cold but ultimately determined that the charger must have gotten fried from a surge or the like somewhere along the way.  Thankfully the Chinese tourist infrastucture was there to help and I was able to find a set of Chinese batteries at the gift shop.  So thank your lucky Buddhas for these pictures.

One interesting thing of shopping is that one of the clerks wanted to practice some English.  She told me that today was a good day to be here because the day before was jam-packed with people (again due to free entry being provided on the occasion of the Earthquake commemoration).  I said that I saw the same thing yesterday at the Panda Center in Chengdu.  I would have enjoyed chatting some more but I needed to catch back up to everyone and see what this Buddha statue was all about.

Close up view of eyes and nose of the Leshan Giant Buddha

At the top of the hill overlooking the river is the Giant Buddha carving.  The first glimpse from this level is his head and hair as one can see in the photos.  Can also look out over the rivers to see Leshan across the way.   Looking at the swirling waters of the rivers one can easily understand why these people might have wanted a Buddha to look out for them in this area as travel on these rivers must have been hazardous at times of high water.  After looking out from above followed the well worn track down the stairs to foot level to see Buddha from below.  He is a really impressive feat and its hard to believe that he was built so long ago.  Snapped the requisite pictures and then up the stairs on the opposite side and back down the hillside.  A most impressive site.

Back down the hill our bus awaited us for a short trek to a lunch stop and then we made the 30km journey on to Emei which would prove to be an interesting few days to say the least.

Africancrab says:
Interesting, don't you hate it when your batteries run out? Happened to me on many inopportune moments during my travels. At times I have missed capturing sights that I shall never see again. I'm glad you were able to ger Chinese batteries. Love the photos, iincredible. Thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Mar 08, 2010
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Small, weathered Buddha carving at…
Small, weathered Buddha carving a…
Info Dump (larger version - http:/…
Info Dump (larger version - http:…
Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha
Half way or so down the stairs get…
Half way or so down the stairs ge…
Close up view of eyes and nose of …
Close up view of eyes and nose of…
Incredible and ancient stone carvi…
Incredible and ancient stone carv…
Remember to keep inside the lines …
Remember to keep inside the lines…
Description
Description
Tiger Lair
Tiger Lair
Dragon Pool
Dragon Pool
Sign for one of the halls on the p…
Sign for one of the halls on the …
Doushuai Hall
Doushuai Hall
A large bell graces the cliff top …
A large bell graces the cliff top…
1st view of Leshan Giant Buddha
1st view of Leshan Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha from cliff…
The Leshan Giant Buddha from clif…
Climbing down the 70 meters or so …
Climbing down the 70 meters or so…
Looking toward the 71m tall Leshan…
Looking toward the 71m tall Lesha…
Close up of the toes of the Leshan…
Close up of the toes of the Lesha…
Looking up at the Giant Buddha fro…
Looking up at the Giant Buddha fr…
Calligraphic etchings on a wall.
Calligraphic etchings on a wall.
Etchings on a wall at the Leshan G…
Etchings on a wall at the Leshan …
A pagoda at the Leshan Giant Buddh…
A pagoda at the Leshan Giant Budd…
Leshan (at the confluence of the M…
Leshan (at the confluence of the …
Leshan
Leshan
Leshan
photo by: westwind57