We have seen many rock cut shrines and structures in india, but not many outside china know about this magnificent rock cut Buddha – the largest in the world, sitting facing the west, the Giant Buddha is located on the western slope of Xiluan Peak of Lingyun Hill in Leshan.
The total height of the Buddha is 71 metres (233 feet) tall, the statue depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees. His shoulders are twenty-eight metres wide and his smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person.
It is lofty and massive with a symmetrical scale and with a 10 meter wide head, 5.6 meter long nose, 7 meter long ears, 5.6 meter long nose, 7 meter long ears, 5.6 meter long eyebrows, 3.3 meter long eyes,3.3 meter long mouth, 3 meter long neck, 28 meter wide shoulders and 8.3 meter long fingers, and the height from the Giant Buddha’s insteps to its knees is 28 meters. On its head, there are a total of 1021 hair buns.
Construction was started in AD 713, led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels travelling down the river. Construction was completed by his disciples ninety years later. Apparently the massive construction resulted in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river below that the currents were indeed altered by the statue, making the waters safe for passing ships.
The most amazing aspect of this sculpture is the engineering behind it ( literally) – the area receives abudndant rainfall and inorder to safeguard the Buddha from the effects of flowing water – the top hair buns are so designed to channel the water that falls on his into hidden channels down into holes in his ear and taken to the back of the statue and drained. similarly the water than falls on his body is channeled through canals in his robes skillfully concealed from the back of the Buddha’s neck to its toes. The Buddha rests his feet at the confluence of three rivers, reclines his back on nine hills, overlooks Emei Mountain and dominates the old city, Jiazhou. With a dignified and solemn appearance and grand verve, the Buddha is the largest sitting Stone sculpture of the Maitreya Buddha in the world. ( sadly it been badly scarred by industrial pollution in the recent years)
The sitting pose and the water in front – kind of remind you, of another site halfway across the globe – Abu simbel and its colossal Statue of Ramses. Quite remarkable despite considering the totally different ideals of the two men, one who renounced everything becoming a God to his followers and the other who coveted every possible possession ( wearing the two crowns of lower and upper Egypt) and called himself God.