On our last day in Sichuan, we took the public bus from Chengdu to Leshan, 130 km towards the south (for a map click here). Visitors from all over China and the rest of the world come here in droves to see the ancient Giant Buddha. However, our bus dropped us at the East Gate from where we had to walk through the Oriental Buddha Park first. This part of the complex houses a collection of numerous statues and carvings (some ancient, some modern), mainly from different areas of East and Southeast Asia. Since there is an extra entrance fee, we originally were not sure whether we wanted to visit the Oriental Buddha Park, but we surely did not regret it! The most impressive sights were the recently excavated tunnels and caverns housing enormous statues!
Eventually, we reached the Minjiang River, but before going to the main sight, we took a detour to the Wuyou Temple with a so-called Fishing Village and the Mahao Cave Tombs on the way. While the walk through the forest was comparatively nice, the sights might be more interesting to serious history buffs only. After another 30 minutes of walking, we finally reached our main goal: the Leshan Giant Buddha! Construction of this 72-m-tall statue of a seating Maitreya Buddha began in 713 during the Tang dynasty and was finished about 90 years later! It is the largest stone Buddha and the tallest pre-modern statue in the world! Partly covered by moss and ferns, it is immensely beautiful! A narrow staircase at the cliff’s edge allows visitors to see the statue from above and below to get a feeling for its enormous size. Definitely, a must-see for visitors in the region!!
In the afternoon, we returned back to Chengdu and the next morning saw us on the flight to Beijing where we would reside another few days before departing home to Germany. After spending most of the last weeks in Tibetan areas where we could speak with a number of locals, we were quite taken aback by the headlines of the newspaper China Daily, which did not really correspond to our experiences of the situation. You may read the articles and think for yourselves.