Leshan Giant Buddha
About 125 km south of Chengdu, the 71m-high Giant Buddha sits in a cliff overlooking the confluence of Min, Dadu and Qingyi River. A local saying goes: "The mountain is a Buddha, and the Buddha is a mountain". Legend has it that an eminent monk Hai Tong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) often saw boats capsize in the turbulent river. Shipwrecks were a common place. Wishing to protect passing boats and calm down the rough river currents, the monk vowed to build a Maitreya Buddha. He made great efforts to collect the funds for the construction.
It is qualified as the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world, while the original second largest Buddha Bamiyan in Afghanistan was only 53m in height, which has been destroyed by Taliban regime in 2002. According to historical records, the project of Giant Buddha was begun in the in the first year of the reign of the Tang Emperor Tang Xuanzong (713 AD), and completed in the 19th year of Emperor Dezong (803 AD), a total of 90 years. The statue is not Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, but the Future Buddha called Maitreya according to Buddhist sutras.
The maintenance project for the Buddha has began since the site was listed by UNESCO as a world cultural and natural heritage in 1996. The local administration of cultural relics employs experts and technicians skilled in up-to-date technology involving sound, light, and electronics to keep a constant check on the Buddha and treat all problems.
A high-tech monitoring system has been installed to guard the world's tallest statue of Buddha in Leshan. The system has not only prevented disastrous fires and floods, but also helped visitors in order and stopped damage to the statue from outside forces.
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