From Vision to Reality: The Story of the Leshan Giant Buddha

Awe-Inspiring Views and Cultural Significance: Exploring the Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan, China

A statue that came out of the heart of hard and Rocky Mountains definitely cannot be an ordinary structure. We are talking about the 1300-year-old statue in one of the oldest countries in the world, the Great Buddha of China known as the Leshan statue. The greatness of this Buddha and the amazing legends about it have become the reason why millions of tourists visit it every year. Leshan Giant Buddha is famous not only for its extraordinary dimensions but also for its complex engineering.

The presence of Leshan Giant Buddha with amazing facts has made Sichuan Province one of the tourist hubs of China. According to religious historians, this statue is the first place of worship of Buddha in the world and besides its historical value, it is also highly respected from a religious point of view. If you are one of the people who are interested in strange structures, you will definitely be surprised to see the Leshan Buddha statue.

The History of Construction the Leshan Giant Buddha

Haitong, a Chinese monk who lived in the eighth century, had an image of a massive edifice and felt that Buddha might calm the turbulent river waters that had previously caused many shipwrecks. He also had a scientific foundation for his religion. The debris deposited changed the water currents while the sculpture was being carved out of the red Cretaceous sandstone bluff. The construction project took place during the Tang Dynasty from 713 to 803 AD.

The enormous structure’s intricate aesthetic design is sure to wow everyone. Here are some interesting tidbits about Leshan Big Buddha. The Buddha’s coiled hair has details like 1021 buns that are deftly inserted behind the ears or around the skull. A drainage system with channels and concealed gutters that extends onto the arms and head, beneath the garments, and in the ears is also integrated into this construction. A system like this clears away rainfall, maintains interior dryness, and aids in the architecture’s self-preservation. In 1996, it and Mount Emei were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

the Leshan Giant Buddha's View
the Leshan Giant Buddha’s View

Architecture and Construction of Leshan Giant Buddha

It goes without saying that this statue’s unique architecture and beauty are the sole things that draw travelers from all over the world to it. All of this statue’s components are made of stone, with the exception of the Buddha’s rebuilt wooden ears, which are visible today. The ears were first created, and then they were connected to the statue. A closer inspection of the Buddha statue reveals that his hair is black, tightly curled, and there are approximately 1,021 of these expertly constructed curls on his head.

Its height, if it were erected upright, would be equivalent to that of the Statue of Liberty. The enormous Buddha statue of Leshan is approximately the size of a ten-story structure. It is perfectly symmetrical wherever you look since this piece of art was so expertly created. The tiniest finger on this statue is so large that an adult can easily sit on it, so if you look at it attentively, you will undoubtedly be shocked.

A fascinating fact about this magnificent creation is that it is said that the Buddha wore gold earrings during the early years of its building. These earrings are no longer there, and it is unclear how they disappeared. Nobody questions the Chinese monks’ production of a great work. In fact, the name of the Great Buddha Leshan appears frequently in well-known Chinese poetry, songs, and stories since the project was so successful.

The drainage system in the Leshan Buddha statue

This monument, as we previously reported, has a sophisticated drainage system to manage the rain. In this context, we refer to the system as “smart” since it is concealed in the statue’s hair, ears, and chest and controls the water flow such that the interior of the statue stays entirely dry. The statue’s drainage system, however, has been significantly altered as a result of being demolished and rebuilt twice. Originally, this system was constructed with 18 layers coiled around various levels of the statue’s head, ears, and neck, with the rainfall eventually draining to the bottom of the statue or into the caverns surrounding the Buddha statue.

View of the Leshan Giant Buddha
View of the Leshan Giant Buddha

Restoration of Giant Buddha in Leshan

The Leshan Giant Buddha statue has undergone several restorations from the time it was initially built till the present. The first significant repair of this work was completed in 1963. The Chinese government carried out this restoration just as the monument was about to be destroyed, and it was this restoration that led to its inclusion on the UNESCO list in 1996.

The cost of renovating this monument was estimated to be over 40 million US dollars in 2001, however because to the lack of documentation, many individuals believe this estimate to be untrue. Nonetheless, the Chinese government aims to repair this edifice once again because the restorations that have been made up to this point are insufficient.

Recreations and excursions next to the Leshan Buddha statue

One of the most important entertainments for tourists who come to this area to see the Leshan giant Buddha statue is taking pictures with this giant statue. They enthusiastically climb the stairs to make sure they have knocked down the statue, the weather is often good here. It is perfect for a day trip.

In addition to the greatness of the statue, which is its most important feature, there are smaller statues of Buddha and important people in this religion around it. The reason for this issue is the specific beliefs of Buddhist followers. They thought that the presence of such a huge statue was a sign of God’s favor to them, so they built smaller statues next to the big Buddha to express their gratitude for this unique blessing. In addition to other Buddhas, a statue of Haitong, the original creator of this statue, was also erected next to the Great Buddha to commemorate his great service to Buddhism.

The drainage system in the Leshan Buddha statue
The drainage system in the Leshan Buddha statue

As previously said, this statue is carved inside of a sizable rock, so in order to view it from different perspectives, visitors must ascend the spiral staircase that has been created on the rock. This in and of itself is a very interesting adventure since, as one climbs, one can also see a number of inscriptions on the rock as well as the Buddha statue. Even Persian inscriptions from the Babylonian region’s kings may be found here, thus we advise you to pay attention to the area when seeing the enormous statue of Leshan. The nails and every feature of the Buddha’s face are displayed in the statue’s finest light because to its expert craftsmanship.

Yet, the elegance and grandeur of the monument are only one aspect of its attractiveness. Visitors may also explore the caverns and holes inside the rocks, as well as the lovely terrace, which can be reached by descending some stairs. Visitors who are interested might ascend the stairs around the statue to view miniature Buddhist temples or the tombs of influential political and religious figures from the Han and Tang periods.

It’s fascinating to learn that there is a different park close to this monument where a variety of Buddha sculptures, temples, and graves may be observed. This park has over 3000 sculptures and is highly popular with tourists, but we will explain it in more detail in a separate post so that we can present it to you better.

Amenities around Leshan Buddha statue

Because the Leshan statue is one of the most popular attractions in China, and many people visit Sichuan province to see it each year, there are tourist amenities nearby, which we will explain in this section:

  • Staircase: To see the statue from above, interested tourists should climb a stone staircase. These stairs have canopies in most places to protect tourists from the sun and rain, and also have protective fences.
  • Shop: Around the statue, peddlers operate with their small carts and offer food, drinks, and souvenirs to tourists.
  • Drinking water: Tourists can buy bottled drinking water on-site.
  • Signposts: Because the Leshan statue is both historically and religiously important to the Chinese as well as Buddhists, there are signposts at the base of the statue that tell the history of the statue. And also guides tourists to their desired route.
  • Boat: Tourists can use a boat as a vehicle to reach the Buddha statue or ride a boat around the Leshan statue for fun and entertainment.
  • Photographer: People who do not have a suitable camera with them can ask the photographers who are present at the place to take a souvenir photo of them. These photos will also be printed at the place.

In general, there are good facilities and entertainment in this area. But don’t forget that due to the great popularity of this statue, you will often face a crowd during the visit because all the tourists have to climb the narrow stairs and it will be a bit difficult.

Restoration of Giant Buddha in Leshan
Restoration of Giant Buddha in Leshan

The best travel season

As you probably noticed by now, the area where the Leshan Big Buddha is located rains a lot. Therefore, you should be careful when you choose the time to visit, so here we will check the weather in different seasons in Leshan:

  • Spring: It often rains in spring and the area of Leshan statue is foggy but beautiful and charming.
  • Summer: The weather in summer is a bit hot, but it is still suitable for visiting and if you wear cool clothes, you will have a pleasant visit.
  • Autumn: until the end of November, the weather is still suitable for visiting this statue.
  • Winter: We do not recommend visiting the Leshan statue from December to April. Because most of the trees are without leaves and the weather is cold. And because one of the important aspects of visiting this statue is to enjoy nature, winter is not suitable.

The best time to visit Leshan Giant Buddha is between March and November. Because the flowers bloom at this time and the weather becomes very pleasant and this area is very suitable for watching the sunrise and sunset.

Access route to Leshan Big Buddha statue in China

Trains, buses and taxis are the means of transport that bring tourists to Sichuan province and finally to the Leshan Buddha statue. Since this Buddha is one of the main tourist attractions in China, many hotels organize special tours to visit Leshan Buddha. In this way, you can book your desired tour by visiting the reception department of your hotel and join other travelers to see this big statue.

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