Southern China and Tibet: Day 11 – Leshan Buddha and Wenshu Temple

0930: Today we are going to see Leshan Buddha, the largest Buddha statue in the World. Leshan is a 2 hour drive from Chengdu, so we decided to leave early.

1100: Stop at a service station. This is the first service station we have come across in China, in both my trips here. It is much like a service station anywhere else in the West, although they specialise in selling rare teas.

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Service station
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Service station

1200: We have arrived. The Leshan Giant Buddha is located at the Lingyun Mountain’s Qifeng Peak. Qifeng Peak is located where the Minjiang River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River meet.

The Buddha can be viewed in two ways,  you can either go to the national park, or take the sight seeing boat. On the national park, there are multiple pathways that allows you to get close to the statue and take in different views.

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Sight seeing boat

The sightseeing boat gives you a more panoramic view of the statue from the river. We didn’t have time to visit the park, therefore we decided to visit the statue by boat. This is also the most comfortable and quickest way to see the statue. The park route involves a lot of walking an climbing, which is not the easiest in the hot humid climate of Leshan.  By contrast, the boat is air conditioned and takes you right up to the statue.

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The boat leaves every half an hour, so there is not long to wait. The boat soon fills us and we are on our way.

The Leshan Buddha statue depicts seated Maitreya Buddha. It is 71 meters tall and at the shoulders 28 metres wide. The smallest toenail of the statue is large enough for someone to sit on.

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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 as its heart. This has led to the local saying: “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”.

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Construction of the statue was started in 713 AD, when the rough currents of the Min and Dadu rivers claimed many lives from the shipping vessels that travelled down the rivers. The project was led by a Chinese monk named Hai Tong. It was hoped that the Buddha statue would calm the waters. Construction was complete 70 years later, after Hai Tong’s death. The statue fell into disrepair for some time, but has since been restored.

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Apparently, the construction of the statue resulted in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the water, that the river currents were altered by the statue, making the water safe for passing ships.

It is also said that a complex drainage system was incorporated into statue when it was built, which includes drainage pipes carved into various places on the body of the statue to carry away the rain water.

Tip: The Leshan Buddha statue was very impressive, but I wish we had more time to see it and that we had seen it from the park. Therefore my tip is to get here early and spend the day visiting the Buddha on foot.

1330: After seeing the statue, we went to nearby restaurant for lunch. Like all the other food we had in the Sichuan province, the food here was spicy and delicious.

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Sichuan Fish Curry

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1430: After lunch, it was time to head back to Chengdu.

1630: We had arrive back in Chengdu. Since the weather was good, we decided to visit the nearby Wenshu temple.

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Wenshu Pavilion

The temple dates back to 580 AD, and one of the best preserved temples in China.

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Temple shrine

There are a number of shrines, halls and a beautiful garden, complete with many different trees and water features.

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Introduction to Buddhism at Wenshu Temple
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Temple Garden

Tomorrow if our last day of this trip. We will be visiting the Chegdu Panda Breeding and Research centre, before catching a flight out late in the evening.

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