When you’re interested in visiting the tallest Buddha statue in the world, China is home to the Giant Buddha of Leshan (also known as Dafo), which is made out of stone and carved out of a cliff. Dating back to the 8th century, it was a monk belonging to the southern Szechuan province that is responsible for its creation. In this article, you will learn more about this popular attraction in China.
History of the Giant Buddha
The construction for the Giant Buddha started in 713 AD where a Chinese monk named Haitong felt that the presence of the statue would have a calming effect on the choppy waters that affected shipping vessels that traveled down the river. Not only did the statue serve a purpose to appease forces of the water, but the rock material that was carved away from the cliff was deposited in the river , causing the currents to become altered , thus ‘calming the waters.’
However, funding from the government for the project was starting to run out. The monk went to extremes to prove the importance for continuation. It is said that he gouged out his own eyes to prove his virtue and sincerity. His disciples made sure that construction continued and it was eventually completed in 803 by the local governor. To this day, some strong currents still occur where the three rivers met, but there is nothing to harm the tourist ferries that travel on the water.
What to See
The statue (called Dafo) is certainly one of the main attractions of the region. He is in the seated position with his hands resting on his knees. The statue is looking across the river. His eyes show heavy lids. Dafo depicts Maitreya, which is the future Buddha. It is this Buddha who will appear to preach the dharma when the teachings of Gautama Buddha have started to fade. This form of Buddha was especially favored between the 4th and 7th centuries. Images of Maitrya have appeared throughout the Buddhist community.
The statue measures 71 meters (or 233 feet) tall , making it the tallest Buddha statue in the world. The statue is so large that a person can sit on his smallest toenail. Each eyebrow measures 18 feet long. The Buddha has certainly weathered time as a handful of drainage passages have been hidden in the hair, collar, and chest of the statue. This helps prevent erosion of the rock. Routine maintenance also lengthens the life of the giant.
Other regional delights to enjoy when visiting the giant is the Lingyun Temple Museum with exhibits centered on the construction and upkeep of the Buddha; Wuyou Si (a monastery with pink walls and impressive decorations); and tomb chambers dating back to the Han dynasty.
Where to Find
Overlooking the waters of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers, the Giant Buddha is also located close to the sacred Mount Emei. The two attractions have been given World Heritage status as a result of their importance in 1996.