Last week I spent a day in Leshan with a student friend from my former university, who’s a local native. It’s taken me almost 4 years to see one of the major attractions of Sichuan, the 71-meters (233-feet) high Giant Buddha of Leshan (乐山大佛).
The day started out damp and bone-chillingly cold, and by the time we got to the top of the hill under which the Buddha had been carved into the cliff, the line to negotiate the single-file steep descent to he Buddha’s feet required a 2-hour wait. My friend and I engaged in people-watching and munching on corn on the cob as we negotiated the snaking amusement-park lines.
Disregarding the warning sign for people with acrophobia, I thought the descent wasn’t so bad until we reached the cliff-hugging, one-person-wide steep stairs midway down, where my vertigo kicked in. I half-crawled to the bottom, clinging for life to the metal rail, feeling like kissing the ground on our arrival at the giant feet. At about 7 stories in height, the Buddha towered above us rather menacingly. Then began the long climb back up the hill via a less-steep alternate route.
The Leshan Giant Buddha…was built during theTang Dynasty (618–907).It is carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of the Minjiang,Dadu, and Qingyi rivers in the southern part of Sichuan…. The stone sculpturefaces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. It is the largestcarved stone Buddha in the world and at the time of its construction was thetallest statue in the world.
Later, my friend treated me to an assortment of local Leshan snacks, later inviting me to join his family for a traditional Chinese Spring Festival celebration dinner.
乐山大佛 – Leshan Giant Buddha, mid-level view