Today was the day I was looking so forward to. After researching the Sichuan Province, the Giant Buddha was what I wanted to see the most. As you can see from the photos, our hotel bed, made up of twin beds, was small and comical. It was also a rainy, gray day.
Once we reached LeShan, we walked through an open food market. I have to share about how nervous the kids and I were to walk through the meat section. Since we were offered dog as a choice meat to eat at last night’s dinner, very “sweet” meat they told us, we were so afraid to see a hanging butchered dog or even cages of bunnies for meat. Luckily, we didn’t see either. Thank goodness. The meat was just fish, frogs, pork, chicken and duck. The meat didn’t even have an odor. You could tell it was all freshly butchered that morning. I have a few photos of the market and the people.
The Giant Buddha, called Dafo, is carved into the red sandstone face of the Lingyun Hill overlooking the treacherous gorge of the Min, Dadu and Qingyi rivers below. In 713AD a monk, Haitong, felt to safeguard passing of boats a protective icon was needed in the cliffs. By the time the buddha was carved, the debris changed the gorge forever and made it safe for boats to pass. Haitong lived in a cave behind the Dafo’s head and when the local officials threatened to blind him if he didn’t take a cut in funding, the monk gouged his own eyes out to prove his dedication to the work of the Dafo. The statue was completed after his death in 803AD and only due to funds donated by the regional governor, Wei Gao. He donated his own salary to finish the legs and feet.
Some statistics on the statue are:
- He’s 230 feet tall (taller than the statue of liberty without her pedestal)
- His feet are 26ft long
- Each ear droops 23ft
- His shoulders span 92ft
- His nose measures 18ft
- Guardian figures flanking each side of the Dafo
Since time was short for us to visit the site, we chose to view the buddha from the river, instead of walking down to stand directly in front of him. We were told the river boat would take only 45 minutes compared to three hours walking up and down the staircase you can see in the photos. Plus, we were told the best view was from the boat. We can say it was impressive at a distance from the boat and the amount of people on the staircase proved we chose wisely.
We ending up having an extra hour and a half, so our driver recommended a museum in LeShan that has, Ebony, an extinct tree that is mined and carved into intricate designs. Much of museum, photos were not allowed. A few times, the patrol man following us, let me take a few photos. Stinkers! It was odd to be monitored as we looked. The carvings were detailed, unique and each told a story. They were well thought out.
…Click on any image to enlarge. Or better yet… click on the first photo and scroll through them all