Leshan Giant Buddha

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Leshan Giant Buddha was built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). 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 province in China, near the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. It is the largest stone Buddha in the world and it is by far the tallest pre-modern statue in the world.

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha

The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It was not damaged by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha

Description by UNESCO

The first Buddhist temple in China was built here in Sichuan Province in the 1st century A.D. in the beautiful surroundings of the summit Mount Emei. The addition of other temples turned the site into one of Buddhism's holiest sites. Over the centuries, the cultural treasures grew in number. The most remarkable is the Giant Buddha of Leshan, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century and looking down on the confluence of three rivers. At 71 m high, it is the largest Buddha in the world. Mount Emei is also notable for its exceptionally diverse vegetation, ranging from subtropical to subalpine pine forests. Some of the trees there are more than 1,000 years old.

History of Leshan Giant Buddha

Construction on the Giant Buddha began in 713 AD. It was the idea of a Chinese monk named Haitong, who hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels travelling down the river. His plans were not just supernatural - the enormous amount of rubble carved away from the cliff would be deposited in the river, altering the currents and calming the waters.

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha

When government funding for the project was threatened, the monk is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. The construction project was continued by his disciples and finally completed by the local governor in 803.

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha

Today, there are still some strong currents where the three rivers meet - but none that threaten the tourist ferries. The "Mount Emei Scenic Area with Leshan Giant Buddha" was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

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