The last 3 days trip to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) is a blast!! We’re tired but still have the energy to walk around Jinli Ancient Street (锦里古街) and have dinner before we retire to bed at our hostel, Lazy Bones hostel.
In the morning, we arrange a trip with the hostel to the Giant Buddha at Leshan (乐山大佛) and Mount Emei (峨眉山). There are five of us in the same van we watched Sichuan Opera a few days back. The weather is cloudy and misty unfortunately, and a little drizzle for the whole day.
Entrance is 90 CYN (50 CYN for student)
There are two ways to see the Giant Buddha at Leshan (乐山大佛), going down the cliff or by boat. We opt to go down the cliff since we have to pay extra to go by boat for only 15 minutes viewing. But we didn’t get to see the two guardians carved on the outer cliffs since they can only be seen from the rivers.
Buddha carvings carved into the mountain
First thing first, Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛; Lèshān Dàfó) is as tall as 71 meters stone statue and carved into the cliff between 713 and 803, Tang Dynasty (唐朝).
During the olden time, the current between the 3 rivers; Minjiang (岷江), Dadu (大渡河) and Qingyi (青衣江) caused dangerous waters and many deaths. A Chinese monk named Hai Tong then led the construction to carve the giant Buddha in hope that the Buddha’s compassion may calm the rivers. Although the project was halt for a while when Hai Tong died, it was continued and sponsored until its completion in 803.
Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛; Lèshān Dàfó) is constructed facing Mount Emei (峨眉山) in the image of Maitreya (मैत्रेय, 彌勒菩薩). It was the largest stone Buddha in the ancient time before modern science. Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛; Lèshān Dàfó) scenic area is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛; Lèshān Dàfó) has 1,021 spiral curls on his head. His head is 14.7 meters tall and 10 meters wide.
Shoulder width 24—28 meters
The view from bellow
My, what a large feet you have
The side cliffs, 9 crooked stairs
The winding steps
From Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛; Lèshān Dàfó), we have an hour drive to Mount Emei (峨眉山). Park entrance fee is 150 CYN and going up with ropeway is 40 CYN.
We hike a little up to Wannian Temple (万年寺). The rain is getting heavier and I’m worried for my camera.
Entrance fee 10 CYN
Maitreya Hall (मैत्रेय, 彌勒菩薩)
Wannian Temple (万年寺) is one of the main eight temples in the mountain at 1,020 meters above sea level.
The ceiling decoration, the flying Apsaras or Apsarasa (अप्सरा, female spirits of clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology) playing the Chinese music instruments. In Indonesia, they are called Bidadari or celestial maidens/angels or muses in greek
The Wannian Temple (万年寺) temple means the “Temple with Thousands of Years of History”. The temple was built in the early Jin Dynasty and previously named Puxian Temple (普贤寺) but was destroyed during the Tang Dynasty. The temple is named Wannian Temple (万年寺) after being rebuilt in Qing and Ming dynasties.
Wannian Temple (万年寺), the Beamless Hall, housed the statue of Buddha Samantabhadra (普贤菩萨, ཀུན་ཏུ་བཟང་པོ, Universal Worthy). It weights 62 tons and 7.85 meters tall. He rides the white elephant, holding a Ruyi (如意) scepter. The statue is made of bronze and copper, dating back to 980 A.D.
The building design is influence by Indian Buddhism with Chinese ideals of the earth is square and the sky is round, “round sky, square earth” (天圆地方, Tiān yuán dìfāng), much like the modern interpretation of Shanghai Museum.
The back of the Beamless Hall
The temple also has a monastery and visitors can spend the night here. Alas, we only have 1/2 day.
The Main Hall with three Buddha statues made of bronze with golden finish; Vairochana (वैरोचन,大日如來), Sakyamuni (गौतम बुद्,ध, 佛陀) and Visvabhu (毗舍婆佛).
On the way down, we stop at one of the tea shop up in the mountain.
Tea produced by the monks and locals
The locals also have this liquor made from 1001 herbs/plants (honestly I didn’t ask WHAT they put in it) with quite a high content of alcohol (30%) and potency. The translator/guide explain that a shot is good for the body and illness such as sore throat and cough. It’s like drinking acid. Well, it did warm me up. Quite a shot.
The ornament on the tea shop roof. Hear the dragon fire.
White Dragon Temple (白龙寺, Bái lóng sì)
The cave and temple was built during the Jiajing period, Mind Dynasty.
The Main Hall, the 3 Huayan Sages (Avataṃsaka, 华严宗): Sakyamuni (गौतम बुद्,ध, 佛陀), Manjusri (Mañjuśrī, 文殊师利) and Samantabhadra (ཀུན་ཏུ་བཟང་པོ, 普贤菩萨)
A lady lighting incense
Legend has it that the White Snake Lady, Bai Suzhen (白素貞, Bái Sùzhēn), from the Legend of the White Snake (from the Hangzhou West Lake) study and practice Buddhism here in the White Dragon Cave (白龙洞, bái lóng dòng).
Even in rainy day like this, this old lady and old man still as cheerful as the sun. She even waves at me.
We go down and down and down until we reach the Double Bridges (双桥, Shuāng qiáo) of Qingyin Pavilion (清音阁, melodious sound).
The top pavilion, not really visible from here is Qingyin (清音, qīng yīn, clear sound) Pavilion and the lower pavilion is Niuxin (牛心, niú xīn, tenacity) Pavilion.
The Niuxin pavilion from the other side looks like a hanging garden with two bridges crossing the rivers, White Dragon River (白龙河, Bái lóng hé) and Black Dragon River (黑龙河, Hēilóng hé). It says that the sound of the water sounds like a Guqin, hence the name of Double Bridges (双桥, Shuāng qiáo) of Qingyin Pavilion (清音阁, melodious sound).
Locals crossing the bridge carrying produce
Scary faces, guardians of the bridge
Hawkers food and souvenirs
Details from the root ornaments using pieces of Chinese porcelains
Zig Zag bridge so ghosts or evil spirit won’t cross
Mount Emei (峨眉山) is also famous for the ebony forest. Legend has it that Bai Suzhen (白素貞, Bái Sùzhēn), from the Legend of the White Snake (read the Legend of the White Snake at Hangzhou West Lake), collected the six divine pillars given by her husband to make a place to help people. The pillars made of ebony then left here when they ascended to the heaven, blessed by the appearance of the Maitreya‘s (मैत्रेय, 彌勒菩薩) image.
Ebony woods or black woods are hard timbers buried under the earth due to natural disaster such as earthquake, floods etc.. The carbonized woods like Chinese red toon or mahogany (Toona sinensis,香椿), nanmu (楠木), qinggang (青杠) or green oak, Chinese wingnut (Pterocarya), camphor tree, rowan etc are carbonized into ebony woods after thousands of years. The ebony wood is treasures as lucky gifts/charm and precious wood said to be more precious than gold.
Going further down we arrive at Wuxiangang (五显岗, Wǔ xiǎn gǎng, Five prominent mound) park/Station and our van is already waiting. Once we go home have hot pot dinner and sleep.
I really love the giant Buddha. I wish we can stay another day or overnight at Mount Emei (峨眉山) and hike up to th Golden Summit and the golden statue of Samantabhadra (Samantabhadra (普贤菩萨, ཀུན་ཏུ་བཟང་པོ), but alas, we have to leave the next day.
Next stop: Lijiang