#66 Teaching at Taizhou Teachers College, China (Dafo, the Great Buddha)


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January 11th 2007
Published: January 11th 2007
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Dafo (the Great Buddha)Dafo (the Great Buddha)Dafo (the Great Buddha)

This enormous 230 ft. Buddha was constructed 1,300 years ago in Le Shan, Sichuan Province of China, near the city of Chengdu. Its creator was the brave monk Haitong.
Located on a sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sichuan Province of China, this impressive 230 foot high Dafo, or Great Buddha, has been carved into the red sandstone hill called Lingyun Hill, where 3 treacherous rivers confluence, the Min, the Dadu, and the Qingyi Rivers in the city of Le Shan, some 3 hrs from Chengdu's Panda Bears.

To safeguard the passing boats, the monk Haitong in 713 AD, (at a time before Charlemagne the Great created the Holy Roman Empire), decided to carve a protective icon into the sandstone cliffs as a public works project. No doubt, he wisely understood, that the resulting rubble would fill in the river-shoals, to calm the often raging waters, taking the lifes of many, and usually threatening the profitable, surrounding agricultural areas of the citizens.

Its construction took almost 100 years and beyond its value as a safeguard for ships, it has become a place of interest, which no visitor to Chengdu, Sichuan, China should miss.

During my visit, I climbed down and up both sides of this masterpiece, and it was as if walking back into history. Handcarved, narrow steps, called the Nine Turns Staircase, wind their way from
The visitors below dwarf in size.The visitors below dwarf in size.The visitors below dwarf in size.

Seen from the river, the sandstone statue can be admired best for its immensity on a boat. It was carved from the beautiful red sandstone Lingyun Hill and changes its hue with the sunlight.
the mountain-top, the site of the Great Buddha's head, 230 feet down to his huge toes, where each foot measures some 26 feet.

It is from this vantage point, that the immense statue can be appreciated most fully. Standing by the Buddha's toes, visitors and pilgrims dwarf in size.

Arthur and I made our journey from the city of Chengdu early in the morning, and therefore could admire and traverse Lingyun Hill and its temples and the Great Buddha (Dafo) without the throngs of tourists, who arrived in their caravans of packed busses a few hours later.

We practically had the site of this wonder to ourselves, whose climb left us both breathless and speechless. For a different perspective, we also hired a boat in the afternoon, to view the Dafo or Great Buddha from a river boat.

Though some smaller carvings into the sandstone, created along the time of the Dafo's (Great Buddha's) construction some 1,300 years ago, were sadly and severly damaged during the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution, the drama of this vista has been deminished little.

For the 230 ft. sandstone statue to have survived the centuries, the remains of
And I thought my head was big.And I thought my head was big.And I thought my head was big.

At this point we started our descend down the torso of Dafo, the Great Buddha. It was one of life's great moments.
an ancient drainage system can be seen, and the statue must be cleaned and restored every 10 years in order to control the decay from pollution and plant invasion.

When the idea of this pious monk Haitong was accepted by the local officials, funds were raised by public bonds and through regional government revenues and taxes on salt. During the construction, the monk lived in a cave behind Dafo's head.

Through our local guide we learned, that when a local official threatened to blind the monk, unless he could collect a bribe and secure for himself a cut of the funds for the project, the monk did the almost impossible. To prove his sincerity and honesty, this pious monk gouged his own eyes out!!!

Both, his story and his accomplishment, will be remembered and revered with admiration and respect for the centuries yet to come, and visitors from around the world will continue to admire in reverence one of the great sight in all of China.









Additional photos below
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Each of the Great Buddha's ears droops 23 ft.Each of the Great Buddha's ears droops 23 ft.
Each of the Great Buddha's ears droops 23 ft.

Long ears have always been considered a sign of intelligence in Eastern cultures.
For a short time only, we had Dafo to ourselves.For a short time only, we had Dafo to ourselves.
For a short time only, we had Dafo to ourselves.

The face of the Great Buddha is graced with a serene and contemplative facial expression.
The Nine Turns Staircase reflects the morning sun.The Nine Turns Staircase reflects the morning sun.
The Nine Turns Staircase reflects the morning sun.

It is from this ancient, handcarved staircase that we descended down the side of the Great Buddha. Thankfully, few visitors are seen early in the morning.
The heads were demolished during the Cultural RevolutionThe heads were demolished during the Cultural Revolution
The heads were demolished during the Cultural Revolution

These ancient and detailed stone carvings lasted throughout the centuries, but were severely damaged during one of China's turbulent histories, only some 40 years ago.
The Dafo keeps his eyes on every visitor.The Dafo keeps his eyes on every visitor.
The Dafo keeps his eyes on every visitor.

As we climb down the narrow stairs, more and more of the Great Buddha's immense size can be appreciated.
The shoulders of the Dafo span 92 feet.The shoulders of the Dafo span 92 feet.
The shoulders of the Dafo span 92 feet.

Down the last few steps, the Great Buddha comes to full view.
At the base of the Great BuddhaAt the base of the Great Buddha
At the base of the Great Buddha

Here, the size of this masterpiece can be more truly appreciated.
Stairs cut into the side of the sandstone hill.Stairs cut into the side of the sandstone hill.
Stairs cut into the side of the sandstone hill.

At Dafo's foot, we look back from where we had come, as more visitors begin the make their descend.
View from the opposite side.View from the opposite side.
View from the opposite side.

Making our way back up the opposite side, and the more recently constructed stairs, we reflect on the ever greater number of pilgrims making their way down the Nine Turns Staircase.
Whether seen from the left or the right side...Whether seen from the left or the right side...
Whether seen from the left or the right side...

...the view is awe-inspiring. Compare the size of the people on the opposite side, waiting to make their descend.
The home of the monk HaitongThe home of the monk Haitong
The home of the monk Haitong

This cave, located behind the head of the Great Buddha, was the home of the monk Haitong, the architect of Dafo.
Pious monk HaitongPious monk Haitong
Pious monk Haitong

The gouged eyes of the monk Haitong are clearly visible on his statue, at the entrance to his cave-home.
Ancient stone carvings have been severely damaged...Ancient stone carvings have been severely damaged...
Ancient stone carvings have been severely damaged...

...through weather and by human hand.
Dragon guarding the water supplyDragon guarding the water supply
Dragon guarding the water supply

The torso of the dragon pushes into the rocks, while the head of the dragon protrudes from the mountain wall.
Buddha's GuardianBuddha's Guardian
Buddha's Guardian

The lion is the symbolic guardian of the Great Buddha, and is a more recent addition to the walking paths.
The great bell on top of the mountainThe great bell on top of the mountain
The great bell on top of the mountain

When struck, the sounds could be heard throughout the valley.


11th January 2007

Hello!
I know it's been a long while since I commented, it's been so crazy for me with solos to prepare and stuff to do for a certain english class of mine! The pics look amazing as does the country. You seem to always have an adventure to go on. How I envy you! Just stopping by to say hi!
21st September 2007

xx
thats place look really gd i wanna go there if i did it will be intesting xx

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