Giant Buddha of Leshan

The Giant Buddha of Leshan (aka Dafo) is the tallest stone Buddha statue in the world. It was carved out of a cliff face by an 8th-century monk in southern Szechuan province, near the city of Leshan.

The Giant Buddha lies at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. It faces the sacred Mount Emei (with which it shares its World Heritage status), with the rivers flowing below his feet.

Construction on the Giant Buddha began in 713 AD. It was the idea of a Chinese monk named Haitong, who hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels travelling down the river.

When funding for the project was threatened, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. The massive construction project was finally completed by his disciples 90 years later.

The construction resulted in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river below that the currents were altered by the statue, making the waters safe for passing ships as the monk had hoped. There are still some vicious currents where the three rivers meet - but none that threaten the tourist ferries.

The "Mount Emei Scenic Area with Leshan Giant Buddha" was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Unfortunately it's hard to see the Buddha with Google Maps...
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