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Leshan Giant Buddha is the main attraction in Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, which was listed as a World Natural & Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 together with Mount Emei. Located at the joint of Minjiang River, Dadu River and Qingyi River, Leshan Giant Buddha is sitting facing Leshan City across the river and it’s the largest cliff rock carving Maitreya Buddha statue in the world.
In ancient Tang Dynasty (8th century AD), the water at the joint of the three rivers was very fierce and boats were often capsized here. Thus, to slow down the water flow, Monk Haitong recruited craftsmen to build the Giant Buddha. It was first carved from AD 713, and when carving the shoulder of the Buddha, Haitong passed away. After the death of Haitong, the project was suspended for a long time. Few years later, the apprentice of Haitong continued to build the Giant Buddha with the donation of local government officer Zhangchou Jianqiong. The project was suspended again when the knees were just completed. Forty years later, the project was continued again, and after the efforts of three generations, the Giant Buddha was finally completed in AD 803. So, this huge project totally took about 90 years to complete.
The Giant Buddha was carved from the Lingyun Mountain, with its head reaching to the mountain top and its feet standing next to the river. The total height is 71 meters; while the head is 14.7 meters high and 10 meters wide, ear is 7 meters long, nose is 5.6 meters long, mouth and eyes are 3.3 meters long, 28 meters tall between knees and insteps. Its insteps can hold over a hundred people. There are 1021 spiral coils on the Buddha head, and they were all stones inlayed onto rocky head. Two over 16-meter tall Virudhakas stand by side on cliff to protect the Giant Buddha.
The Giant Buddha is sitting in the open air, and the weather of Leshan is humid. You must be curious why the Giant Buddha has been preseved so well under such natural conditions. The secret is its ingenious design. There is a delicate and invisible drainage system which played an important role in protecting the Giant Buddha from corrosion. Among the 18 layers spiral coils on the Buddha head, the 4th layer, 9th layer and 18th layer have one cross drainage; the drainage from the left side in front of the chest is connecting to the back drainage of the right arm; there are cave one the back side (the side near the mountain) connecting the two ears. These caves and drainages have composed the scientific drainage, moisture proof and ventilation system. Besides, the local government will renovate the Giant Buddha statue irregularly to restore the broken parts, clean the Buddha, change materials, and eminilate safety risks.
Besides the sitting Giant Buddha, Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area has many other wonderful attractions.
Lingyun Temple is located at top of Lingyun Mountain, very close the head of Giant Buddha (after walk through Lingyun Temple, traveler will start hiking downstairs to closely watch Leshan Giant Buddha), and thus it’s also called Giant Buddha Temple (Dafo Temple). Built from early Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907), Lingyun Temple has a history over 1400 years and it’s built before the construction of the Giant Buddha. However, the present Lingyun Temple is not the original temple for it had been rebuilt in Qing Dynasty (1644 ~ 1912) after most of the temple was destructed in late Ming Dynasty (1368 ~ 1644) in a war. The whole temple is composed of Tianwang Hall, Daxiong Hall and Depository of Buddhist Sutras, which form a quadrangle courtyard. Travelers will climb over 10 minutes from the North Gate to get to Lingyun Temple. Enjoy serenity and Buddhist culture in this beautiful ancient temple before lining up for hiking.
On the right cliff of the Giant Buddha, there is a crooked plank road built along with the Giant Buddha. From the top to foot, the plank road has nine turns, thus it’s called Nine Bends Plank Road (Jiuqu Plank Road, 九曲栈道). The widest park of the road is 1.45 m and the narrowest part is only 0.6 m, only allows one person poass through at a time, and there are 278 stone steps in total. The road starts from the Buddha head, and tourists can reach to the Buddha feet along the path. Note that during weekend and public holidays, crowds of visitors makes the hiking long and slow, possilly lasts 2 hours to 4 hours. And pay attention to the narrow and steep stairs down to the Buddha toenail.
Wuyou Temple is located on Wuyou Mountain and was built in Tang Dyansty. After getting down to the Buddha feet through Nine Bends Plank Road, keep walking to the left of the Giant Buddha along the 500-meter long Lingyun Plank Road (凌云栈道) and travelers can reach to Wuyou Temple in the west. The temple has seven halls, which are surrounded by bamboo and wintersweet. Comparing with the crowded Lingyun Temple, Wuyou Temple is more tranquil and quiet. Less visitors come here and the air quality is very good. It’s a great place to relax and wash your lungs with the fresh air. No extra entrance ticket is needed.
A few years ago, tourists had discovered that Wuyou Mountain, Lingyun Moutain and Guicheng Mountain behind the Giant Buddha had composed a shape of sleeping Buddha on the water, thus this was called the Giant Sleeping Buddha. No one knows it's a nature wonder or a human creation. The head of the Giant Sleep Buddha is Wuyou Mountain, while the stone, bamboo forest and temple on the mountain have composed the five senses organs on the head. The body of the Sleeping Buddha is the Lingyun Mountain, and Guicheng Mountain is the foot. The whole Sleeping Buddha is over 1300 meters from south to north, with its head in the south direction. The best way to observe the Giant Sleeping Buddha is taking a sightseeing boat and viewing from afar, with a little imagination. Leshan Dock/Port is the best viewing place.
Open to public in 1994, Oriental Buddha Capital is only 1km from Leshan Giant Buddha. Covering an area of over 20,000 m2, Oriental Buddha Capital is a stone carving theme park, which combines religious art, sculpture art and garden art together. The park has modeled over 3000 Buddha statues with different materials, including rock, bronze, clay and jade. The whole park represents the art style of Chinese Buddhism and Southeast Asia Buddhism. The park has a 170-meter-long sleeping Buddha statue, which is the largest and longest sleeping Buddha statue in the world. (Notice: Oriental Buddha Park requires an entrance ticket, ¥80/person.)
Leshan Giant Buddha is located at the east side of Minjiang River, facing the city center across the river. There is no airport in Leshan, and most tourists travel to Leshan from Chengdu or Emeishan after a Mount Emei tour. The Leshan Giant Buddha lies about 10 km/ 30 minutes' driving from Leshan Railway Station (terminal of Chengdu/Emeishan to Leshan high speed bullet trains); about 5 km/ 15 minutes' driving from Leshan Xiaoba Bus Station in the west; about 50 km/ 1 hour's driving from the western Mount Emei; about 150 km/2 hours' driving from Chengdu city center. - Learn more about Leshan transportation >>
Leshan Giant Buddha Location and Transportation Map
Chengdu is a very famous tourist destination often used as the gateway city to travel nearby Leshan, Emeishan and Dujiangyan, even Jiuzhaigou and more farther places in Sichuan. Currently, you can take a high speed train, long-distance bus or use China Discovery's private transfer to visit Leshan Giant Buddha.
▶ By High Speed Bullet Train: Thanks to the Chengdu-Mianyang-Leshan Intercity High Speed Railway opened in 2014, Chengdu to Leshan train travel has been shortened to about 1 hour short. There are nearly 40 train arranged every day. You can take train from Chengdu downtown (Chendgu East Railway Station, Chendgu South Railway Station) or at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport to Leshan Railway Station in Leshan. After arrival, you can take a tourist bus (about 30 minutes) or local public bus (about 1 hour) to reach the Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area. Taxi and private transfer only needs less than 30 minutes.
▶ By Long-distance Bus: Tourists can also take bus from Xinnanmen Bus Station, Chadianzi Bus Station in Chengdu to get to Leshan Giant Buddha directly. The bus ride is nearly 2.5 hours. Some can get off at Xiaoba Bus Station and then transfer to the Buddha.
Notice: Leshan city is rather small, so taking taxi to get around is a good choice.
It's a popular and classic itinerary to travel Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei, two UNESCO Natural & Cultural Heritages together. The transportation between them are simple and convenient.
By High Speed Bullet Train: The Emeishan to Leshan bullet train only takes 14-23 minutes short. There are nearly 10 trains available every day. The trains depart from Emeishan Railway Station and get to Leshan Railway Station. You can take a taxi, local public bus, specilzied tourist bus to get to the scenic area.
By Bus: There are through sightseeing bus and intecity bus (Bus No.601) tourists can take from Mount Emei to Leshan Giant Buddha. You can take the sightseeing bus at Emeishan Bus Station, Baoguo Temple, or take the Bus No.601 at Emeishan Railway Station, Baoguo Temple. Both types of bus journey take nearly 1.5 hours.
Leshan Giant Buddha Tourist Map
There are two ways to see the Giant Buddha. One is hiking up on Lingyun Mountain and watching the Buddha from a very close distance. In this way, traveler will enter into the scenic area, and walk to the mountain top, get to the Buddha head, hike downstaris to feet through zigzag Nine Bends Plank Road. The hiking tour is unique and interesting when you see the huge size of each part, the big head, ear, eyes, feet and toenail, and lots of nice temples and Buddhist relics along the way. Good physical condition and enough time and patience are required. Your time and effort are well worth once you get to the feet, looking at the magnificent Buddha statue. But it could be long and slow when there are huge crowds.
Travel Leshan Giant Buddha by Boat or Hiking
If you want to avoid the crowded walking on the mountain, in a tight schedule or like to see the panoramic view of the Buddha, travelers can take a leisurable boat tour to see the Giant Buddha. There are two ways to take boat. The first and most popular option is to take sightseeing boat at Baxiandong or Leshan Cruise Terminal on upsteam. Wear a life jack on board and you will be taken to enjoy the panoramic front view of the Giant Buddha from the boat. The boat ride ticket is 70CNY per person, and you can take photos with the Buddha by yourself or paid service by the scenic area. The whole boat ride lasts about 30 minutes, and you will back to the departure port. Another cheap way is taking boat at Tieniumen Pier to Sun Island (a little isle 500 meters from the Buddha), where you can see the full view at afar and enjoy relaxing tea time in a local farmhouse. Sun Island is very popular among local people. More details about Visit Leshan Giant Buddha by Boat or Hiking >>
Note: 1.) Baxiandong Cruise Terminal is located about 1km from the Ticket Office on the same side of the Buddha, while Leshan Dock/Port is located across the river facing the Buddha. 2.）You don't need to buy the entrance ticket if taking a boat. 3.) In summer rainny season, water level will rise and the boat tour may be suspended for safety.
The best time to visit is from March to November. Spring is very beautiful for many flowers will blossom during this time and the cloud sea on the mountain top is stunning. May to June have many sunny days, the weather in this time is not very hot and the temperature on the mountain is cooler than the city center. The weather in autumn is very clear and cozy; it’s a great time to see cloud sea, sunrise and sunset on the mountain top.
It’s strongly recommended to avoid the golden weeks in China, including Spring Festival, May 1st to May 7th and October 1st to October 7th. During these times, the scenic spot is crowded with domestic tourists, and travelers usually will have to queue for 4 hours to get to the Buddha feet.
Leshan’s local snacks are very famous and delicious, thus, it’s strongly recommended to taste the local food if you have enough time. Just outside of the scenic spot, there is a 500m pseudo-classic street called Jiading Fang, and tourists can find all kinds of local snacks and local specialties in here. Jiading Fang also has many tea house and bars and it’s a good place to take a rest. For those who have more time or will stay overnight in Leshan, it’s strongly recommended to search delicious local food in the city center, like Zhanggongqiao Snack Street (张公桥), Fujie (府街) and People’s Park (人民公园). Jellied Bean Curd, Malatang, Leshan barbecue and Qiaojiao Beef are all good choices.
In the entrance of Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, travelers can find both Chinese and English tour guide. Normally, the price for one tour group is about ¥100.
Leshan Giant Buddha is located about 2 hours’ driving from downtown Chengdu. Most tourists choose to travel Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei together from Chengdu, for the transportation is very convenient and the natural scenery is distinct, cultural link is profound and impressive. After your Panda tour in Chengdu, you will be transfer to Leshan in the morning. You’re suggested to make a Buddha boat tour within half a day, if your schedule is tight and you plan to visit Mount Emei in the afternoon. Of course, you can choose to hike if there are less visitors and you get to the scenic area very early. When time permits, you may have an in-depth exploration of Leshan Giant Buddha, try the two visiting ways together to enjoy different views and scenery, even go to nearby spots in Leshan, such as experiencing the only existing coal-burned railway in China - Jiayang Steam Train in Qianwei County, etc. Extended Emeishan Tours usually takes about 1 to 2 days, depending on your hiking route, physical condition and length of holiday. >> 2 Days Leshan Giant Buddha Visit with Jiayang Steam Train Experience
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