The Leshan Giant Buddha, located in China’s Sichuan Province, is the world’s largest stone Buddha, and is one of China’s famous landmarks. The statue faces Mount Emei, and is located at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers near the city of Leshan. It measures 71 meters (about 233 feet) high and has 3-meter-long (about 11 feet) fingers. The 8-meter-long (about 27 feet) instep is big enough for 100 people to sit on, and the 28-meter-wide (about 92 feet) shoulder is large enough to act as a basketball court.
Construction on this colossal stone Buddha began in the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty and was finished in the year 803. It took 90 years to carve this famous landmark into the cliffs.
It was said that the river below the statue’s location was very dangerous for ships and many people lost their lives each year. The monk Hai Tong believed that by building the statue, the river gods would be appeased and this would save many lives. In fact, so much stone was removed from the cliff face during the massive project and deposited into the river below that this actually altered the currents and made the waters safe for passing ships.
Hai Tong begged for 20 years to acquire enough funds to carve the statue. According to legend, when some local government officials heard of the large amount of money Hai Tong had acquired, they tried to get it from him. He told them that he would rather remove his own eye than give them the money. The greedy officials did not believe him, so he took out his knife and dug out his eye, which scared the officials into leaving him alone, and so his money was saved. The statue was only half finished when Hai Tong passed awa,y and the work was continued by his two students.
In December 1996, the Mount Emei Scenic Area, including the location of the Leshan Giant Buddha statue, was included by UNESCO on the list of the World Heritage Sites, truly marking this as one of China’s famous landmarks.