The Leshan Giant Buddha (Lèshān Dàfó, 乐山大佛) is situated at the confluence of the Min (Mín Jiāng, 岷江) and Dadu Rivers (Dàdù Hé, 大渡河) and was originally built to protect and watch over passing ships in the night.
Haitong, a Chinese monk, began work on the project in 713 and it was not completed until 90 years later. Despite this monk's dedication (he gauged out his own eyes to secure funding) he did not live to see the statue completed. Haitong's work was continued by the monks Zangchou and Weigao, who implemented the successful secret drainage system that protects the statue from erosion, and clothed and wigged the Buddha, too!
The Chinese have a saying that "the mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain." At 71 m (233 ft) tall—and that is seated—ears 6.72 m (22 ft) long, nose 5.33 m (17.5 ft), and eyes 3.3 m (11 ft) wide, this great sculpture is certainly the biggest of its kind in the world. There are numerous perspectives of the Buddha; the most impressive is the view from the ferry as you cross the river.
Watch out however as this is a hugely popular photo shot and the masses of tourists who flock to get a shot tip the ferry slightly! The other inspirational view of the great statue is from above. From the top of one of Buddha's ears, the sight of tourists making their way down the steep Staircase of Nine Turns (Jiǔqū Zhàndào, 九曲栈道) down to the Buddha's feet is awe-inspiring.
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