Leshan Buddha – Largest stone Buddha in the world

By Narendra V

Leshan_Buddha

 Leshan_BuddhaLeshan Buddha is the largest stone Buddha statue in the World, located near Leshan city in Sichuan province China. It is the tallest pre-modern statue in the World. It was carved into the side of Mount Lingyun around 1300 years ago.

It is located near Leshan city at the junction of three rivers namely Min, Qingyi and Dadu rivers. The statue depicts Maitreya Buddha who was worshipped between 4th and 7th centuries. The statue is 71 meters tall, head is 15m high, nose is 6m, ears 7m, the statue toe nail can accommodate a seated person.

In the statue carvers incorporated rain water drainage system in the head, ears, chest and collar so that rain water washes away and not cause erosion. That is the reason behind the statue being preserved without much damage through millennia. At the time of carving the statue it was covered by 13 storey wooden structure to protect statue from elements but it was destroyed in Mongol invasion.

The statue is believed to be constructed to calm the river which was turbulent and consuming many ships and lives. In Tang dynasty a monk named Hai Tong decided to carve giant Buddha statue beside the river, he has kept on asking for funds from the government for 20 years, then government sanctioned some funds with which Hai Tong started work in 713 AD, in the half way he passed away then his disciples continued work and finished the statue in 803 AD after 90 years of hard work. As the carved stone was thrown in to the river it deposited beneath the river and altered the course as well as the turbulence reduced. There are small Buddha carvings around the statue throughout the mountain.

Today the biggest threats to the statue are erosion and pollution. Chinese government is spending millions of dollars to keep the statue intact. In 1996 UNESCO recognized Leshan Buddha scenic area as world heritage site.

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