SICHUAN PROV­INCE

Le­shan Gi­ant Bud­dha (Le­shan Dafo)

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - LOCAL'S GUIDE -

Not too far away from Chengdu, the cap­i­tal of south­ern Sichuan Prov­ince, is a cliff carv­ing that sets al­most ev­ery record. The largest, tallest stone Bud­dha in the world, Le­shan Dafo is a 71-me­tre-high in­car­na­tion of Maitreya (a suc­ces­sor to the cur­rent Bud­dha), etched into the moun­tain­side.

It’s be­lieved the Chi­nese monk Hai Tong be­gan work here in 713, with the goal of craft­ing a meta­phys­i­cal be­ing to tame the rivers’ wa­ters. The carv­ing was com­pleted al­most a cen­tury later in 803, fea­tur­ing a so­phis­ti­cated drainage sys­tem to help pre­vent weath­er­ing.

There’s a rea­son Tong chose this part of the world for his sculp­ture, with south­ern Sichuan the home of what UNESCO iden­ti­fies as China’s first Bud­dhist tem­ple, built on the sum­mit of Mount Emei in the first cen­tury AD. More than 30 other tem­ples, pavil­ions and stat­ues now dot the area, en­veloped by an an­cient for­est that ranges from sub­trop­i­cal to sub­alpine.

GET­TING THERE VIR­GIN AUS­TRALIA OF­FERS FLIGHTS TO CHINA WITH ITS CODE­SHARE PART­NERS SIN­GA­PORE AIR­LINES/SILKAIR, HAINAN AIR­LINES AND HONG KONG AIR­LINES. TO BOOK, VISIT WWW.VIR­GIN­AUS­TRALIA.COM OR CALL 13 67 89 (IN AUS­TRALIA).

FROM TOP Le­shan Gi­ant Bud­dha; the statue’s right foot; Zhangji­a­jie Na­tional For­est Park.

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