This stone Buddha, hewn from thesurrounding mountain, is the tallest stone Buddha in the world It took over seventy years or the span of three generations (between the year 713 to 803 BCE) to construct him. He stands 71 metres tall.
Impressive is a feeble word to describe this wonder.
I joined other awestruck tourists making the graduated climb up to the head of the Buddha before descending in single file down the sheer cliff to the feet of the mighty statue. It was hot, rainy and steamy, I needed to be alert and conscious of where I put my feet. Like anywhere else in the world, the tourists and visitors came for a variety of reasons; some were reverential, others came for more mundane reasons. Perhaps mine were a mixture of both.
After reaching the bottom, I pondered on the reason why the statue was created. The Buddha stands at the confluence of three rivers, where boats of all kinds sailed. After a series of shipping disasters in which many lives were lost, the idea was floated (pardon the pun) to build a huge Buddha to protect the shipping lanes. After he was built, the disasters dramatically lessened but that could have been (perhaps) be the result of the dislocation of earth from such a construction and reshaping of the river bed.
We started the climb to the top and this time I focussed on the crumbling shrines and statues built into the rock walls. At the top I visited shrines to the Buddhas of the past, present and future, lighting incense to honour and give thanks for my ancestors, myself, family and friends and my grandchildren.
And of course gave thanks for this wonderful experience