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                                          Lingshan Great Buddha

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One of the most awe-inspiring sights in Jiangsu is the Great Buddha at Lingshan, along the shores of Lake Taihu in Wuxi.  The largest statue of the Buddha anywhere in the world, this bronze colossus stands 88 meters tall; its lotus flower pedestal brings the entire structure to over 100 meters. The statue was built only several years ago, but has already become a major tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over China. The Buddha stands on the side of a hill, facing lake Taihu, an ideal location according to Chinese feng-shui.

The statue stands at the end of a long boulevard of many smaller attractions related to Buddhism and the great statue.  First inside the entrance gate is a massive bronze pillar, topped with a huge lotus bud.  The shaft of the column is worked into a wild array of sculptures of looming Buddhist guardian gods, lions' heads, and auspicious symbols, while bronze dragons and other mythological animals crouch in a reflecting pool, all with the great statue of the Buddha looming in the distance.  As impressive as this is, four times a day its is transformed into an extravagant celebration of the birth of the Buddha.  The huge bronze leaves of the lotus bud slowly open to reveal a statue of the baby Buddha, who slowly rotates in a complete circle, while the statues of dragons become fountains, spraying jets of water from their mouths over the open lotus flower.  The lotus flower is a traditional symbol of Buddhism, since it is white a pure despite growing from the mud, just like humans can reach enlightenment despite the troubles of the world.

Midway to the Buddha sits an enormous bronze palm, almost 12 meters tall, identical to the palm of the statue itself.  The largest bronze hand in China, during the building of the statue some workers left the hand sitting alongside the construction site while they worked on other parts of the statue.  However, the attention of local people was soon drawn to the massive palm, and people began burning incense to it and rubbing it to show their devotion to the Buddha.  Seeing its popularity, the administrators left the palm in place, and ordered a new one to be cast for the statue.  The huge hand is still very popular - supposedly walking around it while repeated slapping the bronze brings good luck!

Next to the palm is a large bronze statue of a hugely obese Buddha with a wide smile - Maitreya, the Buddha of the future.  Dozens of babies crawl over his recumbent form, pulling at his earlobes, poking his navel, and otherwise being naughty.  The plump Buddha and the babies are a traditional expression of people's wishes for a happy and prosperous future.

After these statues a grand staircase leads up to the Great Buddha itself. In the middle of the broad stairway are a series of large stone reliefs illustrating scenes from the life of the Buddha - they not only enrich the
atmosphere of the site, but are also remarkable carvings in and of themselves. The closer you get to the Buddha the more its awe inspiring its massive proportions really are.  A set of stairs leads up to the top of the lotus flower pedestal next to the giant toes of the barefoot Buddha.  From here its scale is truly breathtaking - the folds of its robe swoop upward in giant bronze waves, almost too big to be real

Admission Fee: CNY 103
Opening Hours: 06:30 to18:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: One and a half hours
Bus Route: 88,89,91


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