For the last instalment, we go by the river and see the Buddha from its feet and from afar. And we will see a hidden Buddha as well!
View the Buddha Up Close
The Lingyun Pathway 凌云栈道 will bring you down to the river bank to see the Buddha from its feet. Along the way, you can see the ancient carvings in the niches set into the stone face of the mountain.
The Buddha is 10 storeys high, so within one day I would have walked up and down 10 storeys twice.
Look at the details of the hands, you can clearly see the fingernails.
I am 1.62m tall, this shot will give you an idea how big its foot is.
Location of the Leshan Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha 樂山大佛 sits at the confluence of three rivers (although the third river is not visible) – Min River 岷江, Dadu River 大渡河, Qingyi River 青衣江.
The river used to be a dangerous crossing for villages on both sides of the banks. Scientifically, the debris from the carving of the Buddha altered the currents in the rivers and made it calmer and slower.
The first chisel fell on carving Leshan Giant Buddha in the first year of Kaiyuan in the Tang Dynasty (713 AD), and the construction took 90 years. Four emperors came and went, and three of them sponsored the construction. The preparation and early excavation of the Giant Buddha were initiated by Reverend Haitong 海通和尚 and donations from the public. In the later stage, two government figures, Sichuan Military Officers 剑南节度使 Zhangchou Jianqiong 章仇兼琼 (appointed 745 AD) and Wei Gao 韦皋 (785 AD), presided over the completion together with the disciples of Haitong.
With limited engineering level of the Tang Dynasty, it was a miracle to complete such a huge project. Haitong travelled from Guizhou traveled to Jiazhou (olden name of Leshan) and settled here because of the magnificent mountains and rivers. According to historic records, the Min River was flooding, gushing and furious. He proposed the construction to subdue the raging dragons in the rivers to provide peaceful passage for the people.
Taking a Cruise
The best vantage point to view the buddha is actually on the river, which is peaceful and smooth these days.
From the North Entrance of the Leshan Buddha, walk along the promenade to the tourist carpark. You will come to a quayside called Eight Deities Crossing 八仙渡. You can board one of the river cruises from this ferry terminal.
During the peak season, a ferry departs from here every 30 min and take you on a 45 min cruise around the Min River. It will stop at a photo op position directly in front of the Buddha.
You can see the Lingyun Pathway 凌云栈道 from the river. The zig-zag drop for 70m and the 500m walkway along the river can be clearly seen.
They are building a quayside, I guess, for visitors that have difficulty to get to the feet of the Buddha. I was told that fishermen used to provide portage from opposite side of the river for devotees to pray to the Buddha.
Beside the Lingyun Pathway, you can the Jiuqu Pathway 九曲栈道 under renovation.
With the cruise you can see the guardians of the Buddha up close.
Guardians of the Buddha
On the mountains on both sides of the big Buddha, there are two guardian bodhisattvas with a height of 16m each carved into niches and a giant steele where the words can vaguely be seen. The entire Lingyun Mountain has countless small Buddhist statues, but they are all damaged due to weathering and man-made reasons.
Sleeping Buddha 卧佛
As the cruise goes down the Min River, there’s one more Buddha to see and a bit of your imagination is required.
Discovered in 1989 by a Guangzhou tourist Pan Hongzhong 潘鸿忠, when he took a photo of the mountains in the opposite bank of the river. He wrote an article in a local tourist magazine of his observation that “from the mountain came a Buddha, and the Buddha became a mountain.”
Many could not see the sleeping buddha 卧佛. Buddhists believe in fate 缘分, and it is your fate whether or not you can see the hidden buddha.
About Leshan Giant Buddha 乐山大佛
The Leshan Giant Buddha 樂山大佛 is a 71-metre (233 ft) tall stone statue, built between 713 and 803 AD (during the Tang dynasty).
Due to the large amount of photos, I have divided this series into three parts:
- Going Up and Down – The path going up to the top of hill
- At The Top – Vintage point of looking at the Buddha’s head up close
- By The River – Looking at the Buddha along the river
Visited in Dec 2021