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Leshan Buddha

Thursday, December 18, 2008
The stone Leshan Giant Buddha Lèshan Dàfó was built during the Tang dynasty which was in power between 618 and 907. It is carved from a cliff face lying at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi Rivers in China's Sichuan province. Close to the city of Leshan, it faces Mount Emei and the rivers flow between the sculpture's feet.

Construction began in 713 under the direction of Haitong, a Chinese monk. His dreams were that giant carving would calm the turbulent waters which created havoc for vessels travelling on the rivers. It was difficult to find funds for his project, and Haitong gouged out his eyes to show his piety and sincerity. His disciples completed the 71 metre construction 90 years after it began, and ironically, the stone used to create the massive construction was deposited in the turbulent waters below, altering the currents, making waters safe for passing ships.

The local saying ''the mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain'' is because the surrounding range, when seen from the river, is shaped like a resting Buddha. The Leshan Giant Buddha is seen as its heart.

The seated Maitreya Buddha occupies the entire hillside. The name comes from the Sanskrit maitri which means friendliness. Its head reaches the top of the cliffs. His hands resting on his knees and his shoulders measure 28 metres. His smallest toenail can easily accommodate a seated person. His fingers are around three metres long and the feet eight metres. The ears measure seven metres and are made of wood and decorated with mud.

It's not just the Buddha's size which has people in awe, but its architecture. More than 1000 buns have been skilfully embedded in the coiled hair and its draining system is amazing. Hidden gutters and channels scattered on the statue's head and arms, behind its ears and folds of the clothing, displace rainwater and keep the inner parts dry.

This drainage system is so important for the protection and preservation of the Buddha, it's hard to believe craftsmen had that capability and knowledge so many thousands of years ago.

Having such a long history and such worldwide fame, the renovation of the Buddha has received extensive attention at home and abroad. The Buddha was nearly destroyed by wind and rain erosion prior to 1963 when the Chinese government began the repairing work. The maintenance work is in currently progress under the instruction of experts from United Nations heritage preservation agency UNESCO.

The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including the Leshan Giant Buddha, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996.

Location

160km from Chengdu in Sichuan province.

Cost

Wendy Wu Tours has a wide variety of China Tours ranging from 10 to 29 days including airfares, all meals, accommodation, visa-fee for Australian passport holders and all transport. They start at $2680 per person twin share.

Air China has flights to Beijing.

Fares from:

  • Melbourne $1326
  • Sydney $1343
  • Adelaide $1578
  • Brisbane $1583

Valid for travel until March 31, 2009. Conditions apply.

Prices correct at May 8, 2008

For further information

Wendy Wu Tours
Level 9, 275
George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 727 998
Fax: (02) 9993 0444
www.wendywutours.com.au
info@wendywutours.com.au

Air China
21/123 Pitt Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9232 7277
Fax: (02) 9232 7645
www.au.fly-airchina.com
sydddca@airchina.com.au

China

It is recommended travellers to China see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.

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