Dazu Dafuwan Our Trip to Dazu, Sichuan Province, China
4. Dazu Dafuwan

Zhao Zhifeng, a monk well versed in Tantric (Esoteric) Buddhism, launched this last great venture in outdoor religious sculpture more than 7 centuries ago. The work required 70 years to complete. The setting, dramatic enough, occupies a horse-shaped gully a third of a mile long with sheer cliffs towering up to 90 feet high. Known as the Great Buddha Crescent (Da Fu Wan), lies in the folds of misty mountains and terraced slopes below a sleepy village and above a meandering stream. The site is a natural grotto.

Several temples tower overhead. The oldest, Sheng Shou Si, Zhoa Zhifeng built himself in 1179 (and last rebuilt in 1684 during the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi). The temple is still active. We headed down the steep stone stairs into the crescent of cliffs where they completed the carvings in 1249.

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