Adventures at Matheran Hill Station
March 13, 2013 – 12:05 am | No Comment
Matheran is a Hill Station located near Mumbai, Karjat.   It is located 800 meters above sea level in the Jambol Forest of Maharashtra.  It was found by Hugh Poynts Malet in May 1850.  It spreads over an area of 8 square kilometers in Sahyadri Mountains.  It is one of the best places to spend a two-day holiday if you are in Mumbai or in the vicinity of Mumbai or its suburbs.  To reach Matheran,  [...]

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Leshan Buddha: A structural wonder

Posted on November 8, 2010 | Travel DestinationsNo Comment

Nestled in the east of Leshan town of the Sichuan prefecture in China, the Leshan Giant Buddha is regarded as the tallest structure in stone, which is of Maitreya who is the Buddha of future. This Bodhisattva appears like a quite fat monk who is shown in a sitting pose with a wide smile. According to Buddhist mythology, Maitreya will come to address religion to reintroduce the faded teachings of the Gautam Buddha. Standing proudly at the junction of three rivers namely, Qingyi, Min, and Dadu; the Giant Buddha of Leshan is sculpted from a cliff face facing the holy Mount Emei. This Leshan Buddha was built by an 8th century monk and that its construction was only over after some 90 years – 713 to 803 A.D. It goes without saying that the statue as well as the mount is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site List. It is worth taking a tour of this most picturesque site of Leshan as the locals claim, “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain.”

As per the backing legend, the idea of forming the Leshan Giant Buddha was of the Chinese monk called Haitong in order to protect the tolerant people who were reliant on the rivers for their livelihood that had reduced slowly because of the violent currents inviting ship wrecks. In those days, it was believed that a water spirit was the main reason behind these disasters. The monk thought that the Leshan Buddha facing the river can dominate over the water spirit and then also the currents. In addition, the fallen debris from the cliff will also alleviate the water force as it will get deposited in the waters.

After some 20 years of fund collection by the monk, the construction began. However, the government who used to give funds was endangered for which the monk gouged his own eyes for confirming his sincerity. Unfortunately he died before the construction was over after which his disciples completed the task. Such a sacrifice does not go in waste and so even today despite the presence of some strong currents; no ship wrecks have taken place.

The Leshan Giant Buddha Statue

Maitreya, in its seated pose, can be seen gazing at the river with lofty eyelids and with the hands on his knees. This Leshan Buddha is so appealing that people from all around the world come to see his giant size as well as the stunning architecture. Starting right from his hairs, each of his parts is well carved. The coiled hair boasts thousands of adeptly embedded buns that adorn his head. Next, take a look at the most unusual feature – the drainage system that holds a few secret gutters as well as channels scattered on the arms and head, within the clothes, and at the rear of the ears. This is the hidden beauty of this Giant Buddha of Leshan that has acted as a protective system for the statue. These channels drain down the rainwater and ensure dryness in the internal parts.

Talking about his ears, they are quite big and are made from wood and that the surface is composed of mud. If you consider the construction technique of those days, the artisans used to find it very tough to link the ears to the stone head. Therefore, their each turns and carving is just admirable every time the statue is revered. Now coming to the shoulders, they are quite broad. The Buddha’s eyebrows are long enough to see it from far. Further, even his smallest toe nail is such apt that a person can sit on it at ease.

The Giant Buddha of Leshan is so vast that one can even see the statue from the tourist ferry. For an alternative look, do explore him from a terrace besides his ear. This one is just awesome! On one side of the terrace, do explore the modern figurine of the monk Haitong. Behind him, the Lingyun Temple Museum is also interesting that houses the different restorations of the statue.

As you pass on the ferry from Lingyun, just have a look to the south of the statue. This is because you can spot the Wuyou Si, a pink monastery that was made here in 742 AD. If time permits, then just do not miss to explore it due to its impressive decorations such as the gate guardians, sculptures of arhats in the Louhan Hall, and paintings on the second wall. The statue visit timings are 9 am to 4:30 pm and it charges the admission fee of CNY 90. However, if you are on a boat trip, the cost is CNY 70.

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