Le Shan is situated on the southwestern fringe of the Red Basin in southern Sichuan province. The region is world-famous for the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dafo (Great Buddha), which is carved into the red sandstone face of Lingyun Hill overlooking the treacherous confluence of the Min, Qingyi and Dadu rivers below it. It was in 713 AD that a monk named Haitong decided to safeguard passing boats by creating a protective icon – a giant likeness of Buddha carved into the cliffs. When Haitong’s idea was accepted, funds were raised via public subscription and local government contributions from the salt revenue.
The monk lived in a cave behind Dafo’s head. Devoted to his project, he realized the resultant rubble would fill in the shoals, so it was employed in the construction of other temples and linked paths around and adjacent to Dafo. Devoted to his project, poor Haitong incurred the wrath of a local official who threatened to blind him unless he could take a nifty cut of the funds. In response, Haitong gouged his own eyes out to prove his unmoved sincerity to the project at hand. Haitong didn’t live for the completion of his project (after all he couldn’t see it) and a regional governor donated his own salary to have the legs and feet of the behemoth completed.
It is when standing at Dafo’s huge 8m feet that one can really appreciate the scale of one of the world’s largest Buddhas. Talking numbers, his ears droop 7m, his shoulders span 28m and his nose measures a whopping 5.6m. Impressive.
Le Shan is near Chengdu. Listed below are some of our Holidays with Chengdu
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