Continued from here
So while he continued to click I walked behind it to check – and there it was – the most awe-inspiring sight I’ve ever witnessed that simply took my breath away. I gasped and shouted for him to join me. Because behind the statue was, unexpectedly, an endless passage with alluring carvings on either side. It was one of those moments in life that make you wonder how much humans are capable of- what beauty grandeur, skill and scale that moves you with its sheer perfection.
We walked in silent awe admiring each of the carvings- reading up about the monks from Zen history and different stages of Buddha’s enlightenment process.
My favourite here was the one right at the start – Sadgatih– the wheel of reincarnation that takes people through life and death.
And just at the end of the passage we happened on the Sitting Buddha– he had flowing robes and the lights installed created shapely shadows on the wall behind. At this point, we were just entranced by the sights around us and tried to take it all in to savour at a later time.
Another passage later was the most majestic idol of Bodhisattva Skanda – who is considered the guardian of Buddha’s possessions when he entered Nirvana.
Further on are the Four Heavenly Kings– the King of Rain, of The Wind, of Buddhist conversion and the ruler of music.
After this, we happened on more exquisite carvings of heavenly beings and numerous statues of Buddha in varying shapes and sizes.
When finally out into the light, we saw the Sleeping Buddha, surrounded by people.
Just as we got exhausted from the walking, we happened on a shrine with seemingly endless steps at a space called the “Big Buddha Bay“. A lotus-shaped centre piece is the first thing that is seen, and if you look up one will notice a painful looking set of stairs reminiscent of the stairs Po had to face (in Kung Fu Panda), that lead up to another statue of a seated Buddha. Considering how much our feet were aching by now, we almost gave it up- but the previous jaw-dropping scenes egged us on to give it a go. On the railings of the stairs were numerous rusted locks worn out in the rains.
Just as we willed ourselves to reach there- true to our past experience there was actually a passage just to the side of the Buddha.And finally, we got to see the one image that was the only picture other than the Grand Buddha that we had stumbled upon online and that I was determined to see on my visit to Leshan. The Thousand-Hand Kwan-Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, and it was everything I needed it to be. Raw and seemingly made of mud but perfect in its detail- hands in an assortment of postures surrounding a benevolent looking deity. The hands are supposed to represent her many abilities to render assistance.And I was finally satisfied with the trip to Leshan.
We moved on to the Golden Buddha Hall to a few more soothing sights and finally walked back to the entrance.
We entered the shrine there and stopped for a bit at the LingBao Pagoda (It was closed, but we’re not sure if it was the timing or if it’s always kept closed). We then headed out to the railway station a bit early for our train.
Instead of sitting at the station, I suggested we go to the park on the other side of the road to spend the couple of hours we had. We noticed 5-6 people playing something that looked like badminton but was vaguely dance-like. Intrigued we asked Summer and she translated from them that it was called “Tai-Chi-Bo” (my spelling may be incorrect). It was quite a treat to watch their controlled and fluid movements with the racquet and a special ball. As we watched on intrigued, they were kind enough to offer to let us try too. Needless to say, we did try and had a lot of fun but were hilariously awkward at it in comparison to them. A Swedish family also joined in to watch and our group had some interesting conversation with them wrt tourism in Sichuan and the places we loved. And just like that it was time for our train and getting back home after a magical day of discovery- of the Leshan food, of the spell-binding carvings in underground caves and the elegant Tai-chi bo.