The famous 71 meters (233 feet) tall statue is carved out of a cliff face. It shows a seated Buddha with his hands on his knees. This Leshan Giant Buddha statue is the tallest statue of the Buddha and the shoulders are 28 meters wide. The smallest toenail can easily seat a person and the 7 meters wide ear can accommodate two people . The head of the Leshan Giant Buddha is 14.7 meters tall and 10 meters wide and is covered with 1,021 buns of curly hair. People say:
“The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”
It lies at the confluence of the Minjang, Dadu and Qingyi in city of Leshan in the Chinese province of Sichuan. The Leshan Giant Buddha statue took 90 years to complete. It’s construction was started by a Chinese monk named Haithong in 713, hoping to calm down the turbulent water. He gouged out his own eyes to gather funding to build the structure. He thought this Giant Buddha statue would express his sincerity. The work stopped with his death and was started by his disciples 70 years later. The project then was sponsored by a regional Governor. The Giant Buddha statue statue finally got completed in 803. Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It was not damaged by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Construction was started in 713, led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped that the Giant Buddha Statue 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. After his death, however, the construction was stuck due to insufficient funding. About 70 years later, a jiedushi decided to sponsor the project and the construction was completed by Haitong’s disciples in 803.
Apparently the massive construction resulted in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river below that the currents were indeed altered by the statue, making the waters safe for passing ships.
The Leshan Giant Buddha has been affected by the pollution emanating from the unbridled development in the region. According to Xinhua news agency, the Leshan Giant Buddha and many Chinese natural and cultural heritage sites in the region have seen degradations from weathering, air pollution, and swarms of tourists. The government has promised restoration work.
At 71 metres (233 feet) tall, the statue depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees. His shoulders are 28 metres wide and his smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person. There is a local saying: “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. This is partially because the mountain range in which the Leshan Giant Buddha is located is thought to be shaped like a slumbering Buddha when seen from the river, with the Leshan Giant Buddha Statue as its heart. (Wiki)
About Leshan City
In ancient times Leshan was known as Jiazhou and was reputed as the place ‘Where there is the most beautiful landscape in all Sichuan, there is Jiazhou’. It was famous for its abundance of the Chinese flowering crab-apple and long ago was given the title of ‘Haitang (crab-apple) Xiangguo (fragrant city)’. Nowadays Leshan is particularly well known as a city of National Key Tourist Attractions due to its natural landscape and wealth of cultural relics.
The city’s governance covers four districts (Shizhong District, Wutongqiao District, Shawan District, Jinkouhe District), four counties (Jiajiang County, Jingyan County, Jianwei County, Muchuan County), two Autonomous Counties (namely the Yi Minority Autonomous Counties of Mabian, the Yi Minority Autonomous Counties of Ebian) and one county-level city (Emeishan City). As there is a large cultural heritage to be found in Leshan City, it is referred to as the ‘Scholar-bureaucrat Shire’.
Leshan City is a renowned tourist resort as it boasts the ‘No.1 Buddha under Heaven’ – Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area (including the Giant Sleeping Buddha) and Mt. Emeishan scenic area which is renowned for four spectacles – Sunrise, Cloud Sea, Buddha Rays and Saint Lamps. There are many Buddhist temples in these scenic areas including Wuyou Temple, Lingyun Temple, Baoguo Temple, Hufu Temple, Wannian Temple to name but a few. Notable scenic resorts in the surrounding area are: Wutongqiao (nicknamed ‘Small West Lake’) which is an ancient waterside town located 24 kilometers (about 15 miles) south of Leshan City; Luocheng Ancient Town which is well-known for its ship like appearance located 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) northeast of Jianwei County in Leshan City. Moreover, Leshan is the hometown of Guo Moruo (1892-1978) a famous Chinese literary figure. The Former Residence of Guo Moruo located in Shawan District is also an attractive scenic spot.
Because of its advantageous location in the southwest of the Sichuan Basin, the climate here is fairly good and the two mountains Wuyou Mountain and Lingyun Mountain around Leshan City are luxuriantly green. As well as a mountainous area, aspects of the terrain take the form of a plain and an area of hills. The southwest mountain area of the Sichuan Basin has three dimensions to its climate featuring a mild winter and a relatively cool summer, with rain in both early spring and the fall. This means that the mountain area of Leshan is highly suitable for the propagation of vegetation.
Tourists coming to Leshan & Emeishan Scenic Areas will have no worries about transportation. There is Chengdu-Kunming Railway Line running through Leshan City. The sea route Leshan-Yibing-Luzhou-Chongqing is very convenient for traveling by water. Moreover, the highway network ensures convenient ways of getting to Leshan and reaching each of the scenic spots within Leshan and its environs. Whether tourists travel by road, sea or train, they will have a pleasant journey. (travelchinaguide) – Leshan Buddha