The Leshan Giant Buddha is one of the top landmarks in China. It defies all expectations of the world’s oldest and largest Buddha statue. The only word that comes to the tourists’ lips when they see the unfathomable immensity is WOW.
This ocher statue glows in the heart of the heavily forested slopes facing the river.
But why was this massive Buddha built in this distant corner of Sichuan? Simply said, three rivers confluence here, and the turmoil of the waters was so powerful that the fishermen of the 8th century were frequently imperilled.
The rocks flooded the river and eased the flow of water by demolishing part of the mountain.
The monk Hai Tong was the one who came up with the idea of carving a gigantic Buddha onto the cliff face so that he could watch over the river’s passage. It took 90 years to complete the Leshan Giant Buddha in the year 803.
On the slope of Mount Lingyun, this statue of Maitreya Buddha was carved from a single piece of granite. Even though the Buddha is shown in a sitting position, this is the world’s highest Buddha statue.
It’s a giant of 71 metres height, pushed by the multitude of people coming on the scene. It is difficult to see the entire statue by standing at the foot of the huge Buddha.
The Leshan Giant Buddha’s limbs are unfathomable in size. To give you an idea of how big this statue is, a person can fit on his toe and a hundred people on his foot, each eye is 3 metres high, and each ear is 7 metres high!
The Statue’s best view
Take a boat over the river and halt for 10 minutes in front of the UNESCO-listed Leshan Giant Buddha to obtain a bird’s-eye perspective.
The awe-inspiring sight formed by the ocher statue surrounded by deep green vegetation is breathtaking.
Please note that I do not recommend it, as you will have to wear safety jackets, and beg other passengers to take a picture.
Also, everyone will stand on one side of the boat. In case of bad weather, the boat will be a bit shaky.
An exciting visit
However, I do recommend doing the walking tour. The latter allows you to explore the entire park, which is incredibly rich.
It subsequently takes half a day to fully appreciate the location and, in particular, to pass in front of the site’s second most stunning monument.
It is less well-known than the first, but it is no less spectacular, and it is well worth a detour throughout your journey.
This 170-meter-long statue depicts a reclining Buddha! This Buddha is so tall that it’s tough to make out everything!
What is the best time to visit the Giant Buddha of Leshan?
I have visited the site in May, with relatively decent weather conditions. Locals advise that the best months are the following: From March to June and from September to November.
How to get to the Giant Buddha of Leshan?
To get to Leshan (where the Budha is located), you need to take a bus from Chengdu Chadianzi Bus Station located in the city center. I got there using the subway from my hotel. The journey costs 46 yuans, for a duration of 2 hours.
Note that the bus doesn’t stop next to the buddha site. So once in Leshan town, I took another bus (Bus 13) for 1.5 yuans, and 20 minutes later, I finally got to the Buddha site.
I advise you to not take taxis to the Giant Buddha as they will charge you a fortune. Once arrived at the site, I paid 90 yuans to get access to the Budha, and the parks around.
From Chengdu East Station, a high-speed train (Bullet Train) travels to Leshan every day. The journey takes around an hour and costs from $9 to $26 depending on the class.
You can book your ticket using this link. Be aware that this train requires a reservation, which I strongly recommend doing well in advance because these trains tend to fill up rapidly.
You may do it at the station (remember to bring your passport in order it to make your reservation) or online using the link above.
The weather in Leshan
I have visited China in spring (May). The weather was dry with temperatures between 18 to 22° C. The weather varies depending on the time of the year.
Generally speaking, The winters are chilly, the springs are dry, the summers are warm, and the autumns are rainy.
Walking close to the Giant Buddha of Leshan
It is possible to avoid using the ferry and instead walk to the summit of the Leshan Giant Buddha.
As a result, while it is feasible to go considerably closer to the Buddha, it is not possible to have a bird’s-eye perspective of it.
After passing the till, I walked up the stairs, and after passing a door, I reached the head of Buddha. It was very crowded that day, and therefore difficult to take some shots.
This walk, which is recommended to individuals with good health conditions, is even more remarkable than the ferry trip. The walker reaches the top of the monument, at head level, and the view is spectacular!
To reach the Buddha’s feet, you must first descend a steep zigzag stairway with nine twists. These nine twists represent the Buddhist paradise nine levels.
So, from the top, I went down the stairs, to get the view from the bottom. Going down the narrow staircase that runs along the cliff to discover the rest of its body. It just looks amazing. The more I went down, the more my jaw dropped.
When I got to its feet, I quickly realised how big the buddha is. It’s the
largest buddha in the world at the end of day.
By its feet, I saw buddha’s worshipers getting on their knees, burning incense sticks. They mainly do it for relaxation and meditation.
Also, at that location you will be at the river level, overlooking the ferries queuing to get as close as possible to the statue and allowing passengers to take pictures for about 10 minutes.
I arrived at the giant buddha’s feet using the left-hand side stairs, so I decided to go back to the top using the stairs located on the right side of the statue.
At the top, I visited few Buddhist temples. Each one had similar decorations: a huge Buddha statue surrounded by guards to protect him.
Incense burners abounded and I was lucky enough to be at one of the temples when a monk was teaching a parishioner how to pray properly.
Is the Giant Buddha worth it?
The landmark is known as the world’s largest Buddha sculpture, drawing pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. It’s also the one that matches with the saying “The Buddha is a mountain, and the mountain is a Buddha“.
In my opinion, the Giant Buddha of Leshan is definitely worth a visit. Its
location, history and the park around it as well as the river makes it such a unique place to explore, and getting an immersion into the Chinese culture and Buddhist traditions.