The astounding ancient Buddha statue in China’s Sichuan province is once again open to tourists after six months.
The Lè Shān Giant Buddha is thought to be - and often described as - the world’s largest ancient Buddha, drawing in tourists from around the world who want to take in its incredible scope with their own eyes. The 71-metre statue is so large that the smallest of its toes is about the size of an average person. It overlooks three converging rivers and was originally created with the hope that Buddha would protect boats that pass through the current below.
However, the area was closed for six months and the statue partially covered while local authorities examined it for damage and cracks on the chest and abdomen. They have been researching the statue to come up with a repair plan for the historic structure, which was carved into the rock face in the eighth century. While there is a weather-draining system inside the Buddha aimed at preventing extreme weathering, at roughly 1200-years-old, some damage is expected.
Now that the research is complete, the site has reopened to visitors who want to explore the scenic area around the Buddha. Most visitors start at the top for a look at the massive head, then wander down a winding staircase to take in the view from the bottom. Since the area is frequently busy - and might be even more so after the long closure - visitors may want to consider avoiding visiting on weekends when the staircase and queues can be lengthy.
The Unesco World Heritage Site can be reached on a day trip from Chéngdū, or by stopping on the way to or from Éméi Shān, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist Mountains.